The voters have spoken.
Well, some of them.
With just over 8,400 of Westport’s 19,811 eligible voters casting ballots, Republicans retain Town Hall. Control of the selectman’s office has ping-ponged between parties ever since the 1970s, when a 25-year stretch of Republicans ended.
This will be the 3rd straight term for Republican leadership. But this is Westport, not Washington or many other places in America.
We’re a blue town, in a blue state. And we’re a town. We’re neighbors. We see our new selectwomen — and, notably, this is the first time in our history the top 2 slots are filled by females — everywhere. The market, the beach, doctor’s offices — they’re part of our community.
Jen Tooker and Andrea Moore are Westporters, through and through. Tooker has lived here for many years; Moore is a Staples graduate.
Both have extensive experience. Tooker is the incumbent 2nd selectwoman; Moore serves on the Board of Finance. They know this place. They know us. They will guide our town with wisdom, strength, compassion and care.
Tooker and Moore won the election with substantial support from Democrats and independents. Both groups represent the bulk of Westport voters.
Tuesday’s election was hardly a Republican wave. Democrats continue to control all boards and commissions. They outpolled their opponents — in some cases, substantially — in races that were both contested, and uncontested.
Planning & Zoning — one of the most important bodies in town — saw the re-election of 3 Democratic incumbents.
The Board of Education — another crucial body — was humming quietly along, with 2 candidates from each party “vying” for 4 seats. A late write-in candidate plastered the town with signs, but drew less than 5% of the vote.
Suddenly — less than a week before Election Day — one candidate slammed his own Republican Party, for failing to take a stand on the Critical Race Theory debate, and alleging it had stopped him from campaigning.
The resulting extensive publicity did not seem to matter. Both Republicans drew nearly the same number of votes; at around 21%, both trailed their Democratic rivals, who were around 28%. All 4 now make up the majority of the new Board of Ed.
One of the big stories of this election was the number of uncontested races. The Board of Finance and Zoning Board of Appeals had the same number of candidates as open spots; so (without the write-in candidate) did the Board of Ed.
Six of the town’s 9 Representative Town Meeting districts did not have competitive races.
Combined with the low turnout, that raises a crucial question: How much do Westporters really care about our town government?
Kudos to the men and women who stepped up this election season. Thanks to all who ran, whether they were opposed or not.
You will run our town well. You will put in countless hours, read mind-numbing reports, attend endless meetings, and hear from many residents, with ideas, insights and complaints ranging from very valid to ridiculously absurd.
Some of them may have voted for you. Some of them may have voted against you. Some may not have voted at all.
That’s the reality of democracy. We get the government we deserve.
Or, in Westport’s case, sometimes it’s even better than we deserve.