Good things happen to good people.
Charlie Haberstroh is one of the genuinely good people in Westport. The 60-year-old, 2-decade Westporter — a 2-term Board of Finance member, former RTMer, longtime Rotary leader and sports volunteer — is the Republican Town Committee nominating committee’s choice to fill a vacancy on the board of selectmen. If approved by the full RTC, and then the 2 Democratic selectmen, Charlie would replace Gavin Anderson, who resigned for health reasons.
Charlie was not looking to leave the finance board — especially not during budget season. But 7 years is a long time. I can’t begin to fathom what all those loooong meetings — filled with mind-numbing numbers and interminable speeches by passionate yet repetitious town officials and common citizens — does to the human brain.
Board of selectmen meetings may be quicker and less contentious, but they are just as important as Board of Finance gabfests.
“I’ve run my own asset management firm for 10-plus years, and was a manager for most of the 30 years I worked for other finance firms prior to founding my own,” Charlie told “06880.”
“The Town of Westport has many challenges over the next few years, including increasing pension and medical obligations, as well as anemic economic revenue growth at best.
“I can help try to rationalize expenditures, and look to try to make government work more efficiently. I know the Westport school system well, and may be able to help integrate like functions.”
Charlie knows there is no magic wand. The key is “hard work to try to do more with less.” The other option: “Westport runs the risk of turning into the other very high-taxed New York metropolitan suburbs.”
Selectmen are frequently caricatured (okay, by me) as dealing solely with stop signs. Most Westporters know the selectmen only as proclamation-proclaimers. Though the duties of the 2nd and 3rd selectmen (the former runs for office on a ticket with the 1st selectman; the latter is the loser with the most votes) are to advise the 1st selectman on all aspects of town government, and approve town contracts, the value of the 3rd selectman depends on the willingness of the 1st selectman to use his or her expertise. The 3rd selectman’s status as the lone representative of the other party ensures that chances for dramatic votes are slim.
“I have every confidence that the (current) 1st selectman has the intellect and confidence” to use the 3rd selectman’s skills and expertiese effectively, Charlie says diplomatically.
So what about running for 1st selectman himself, in 2013?
“I have no political ambitions,” Charlie says. “I run my own firm, and do not believe that will change in 3 years. I can only do the best job I can for the town as 3rd selectman.
“Westport has been very good to my family during the 20-plus years we’ve lived here. During that time my wife (Westport Department of Human Services coordinator Patty) and I have tried to give back to the community in any way we can.
“My goal has been to leave whatever organization I am involved in in better shape than when I began with it. If I can do that in the 3rd selectman position, I will be very satisfied.”
Gavin Anderson leaves some big shoes to fill. Charlie Haberstroh is one man who can step right into them.
Fortunately, the Westport board of selectmen is not the United States Congress. Gordon Joseloff is not Harry Reid; Shelly Kassen is not Nancy Pelosi.
And — though he loves to golf — Charlie Haberstroh is most definitely not John Boehner.
“06880” looks forward to Charlie’s quick approval next Tuesday by the Republican Town Committee, and soon thereafter by
Harry and Nancy Gordon and Shelly.