Tag Archives: Westport League of Women Voters

Remembering Jackie Heneage

Jacqueline Heneage — Westport’s 1st female 1st selectman — died October 3. She was 96 years old.

A former president of the League of Women Voters, her election over incumbent John Kemish in 1973 marked the first time a Democrat had won the top spot since 1948. She was 3 more times, serving until 1981.

Jackie Heneage, 1979

As noted in Woody Klein’s history of Westport, she hired a grantswoman who obtained nearly $2 million. It was used to convert Bedford Elementary School into Town Hall, and for open space acquisition, a youth center (now the Gillespie Center), elderly housing, the Police Department and beautification projects.

Heneage extended long-term projects like flood control, and sewers and road improvements. She believed the town had enough commercial zoning, and pushed for reduced building sites, increased setbacks and the elimination of Design Development Districts.

Westport’s school population declined sharply during her tenure. In addition to the Bedford Elementary School conversion,  Hillspoint Elementary School became a childcare center; Greens Farms Elementary became the Westport Arts Center, and Saugatuck Elementary on Bridge Street became elderly housing.

Heneage also oversaw the construction of the transfer station on the Sherwood Island Connector, extension of sewers on Post Road East and in many residential areas, and the move of fire station headquarters from Church Lane to its current Post Road location.

Jackie Heneage in 2002 with Ted Diamond. He served as her 2nd selectman.

She entered into long negotiations with Baron Walter Langer von Langendorff, who owned 32 acres of land on the Post Road East/Compo Road North corner. In 1979 the RTM voted to appropriate $3,48 million for the purchase, but postponed giving her condemnation authority if the baron refused to sell. After her administration, the land became Winslow Park.

Heneage also oversaw Westport’s participation in the nation’s bicentennial celebration in 1976. Over that July 4th weekend, Main Street between the Post Road and Elm Street turned from 2-way traffic to a 1-way street.

But Jackie Heneage was more than a groundbreaking first selectwoman. Her daughter Audrey sends along this remembrance.

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Our mother, Jackie Heneage was a dynamo. During our childhood she worked part-time, volunteered in many civic organizations, played tennis and still found time to put a hot meal on the table every night (despite not being a domestic
goddess)!

Saturday mornings we woke up to Broadway tunes or classical music blasting in the living room and our list of chores. It was always: clean your room and another space, plus mow one side of the lawn in summer. But after that we were
free to do whatever with whoever until dinner.

Summertimes we were shipped off to Beach School or Longshore every day for swim lessons and general tanning. This regimentation may have felt onerous to us, but it allowed my mom to continue being herself and not drown in family life.

There was no guilt on her part and no lasting damage to us kids. In fact, the structure was just what we needed.

Winter vacations meant a visit to our grandparents in Hanover, New Hampshire where she taught us all how to ski on her old equipment on the golf course behind her house, which had a rope tow in winter. She threw us into all the activities she had loved as a child. We were always outside riding bikes, skating, swatting at tennis balls. While only one of us became an athlete (Cynthia). the exposure was not a waste. She supported Cynthia in every sport she wanted to try — swimming, figure skating, skiing, gymnastics. She became proficient at all of them, although Mom finally told her she had to focus on one because she didn’t have time to drive her to the various practices.

Our mother planned fantastic trips and outings for our family. After Cynthia brought home several books on the national parks, she planned a 1-month trip out west. In summer 1966 we visited 7 different national parks and Mexico.

Jackie Heneage (seated) with her daughters.

The ’60s were the time of her increasing involvement in the Westport League of Women Voters, eventually becoming its president. The League’s study of town government prepared her for her first political campaign for a seat on the Zoning
Board of Appeals, and her later successful campaign for First Selectman.

As first selectman she was busy at work all day, and at town meetings every night. She took speechwriting very seriously and labored over each one, reading them aloud for our feedback.

On weekends, the police chief called her to report various disturbances around the town, many which her youngest daughter had attended (but never as a troublemaker)!

Her 8 years in office coincided with her parents needing increasing care in New Hampshire. Every holiday she and our father Peter traveled to give the caregivers their time off, never taking the holiday for themselves.

Jackie Heneage, reading the Westport News.

She retired from First Selectman in 1981 and went on to further corporate and government jobs. In 1983 she became a grandmother and doted on her grandchildren.

After her retirement in 1992 she and Peter delighted in taking them on excursions and extended trips, in between their own travels. She continued to play her favorite sport, tennis, until she was 80 years old. She was eventually blessed with 5 great-grandchildren she loved to see.

Peter and Jackie moved to Sedona, Arizona in 2018. Always active, Jackie made a friend who took her to meetings of the Sedona League of Women Voters and out to lunch. Jackie maintained her sense of humor and upbeat attitude to the end, becoming a favorite at Sedona Winds Assisted Living. But when she reached the age of 96, the age of Peter at his death, she decided it was time to check up on him, and off she went. We will miss her dearly

Candidates’ Voter Guide: 2021

Before every local election for years, Westport’s League of Women Voters distributed a Voters’ Guide. Filled with biographies of candidates for every office — and, more importantly, their responses to very direct questions about key issues — they helped many Westporters decide who to vote for.

Back in the day, nearly every Westporter got those guides through the Westport News. The paper is still printed, but the guide is not.

Fortunately, the LWV Voters’ Guide is now online.

So if you want to know where the candidates for selectmen; the Boards of Education, Finance and Assessment Appeals; Planning and Zoning Commission, and the Zoning Board of Appeals, plus all 9 RTM districts, stand — as well as where to vote, get absentee ballots, even how to register — click here.

It took a massive amount of work to prepare. It’s well worth taking the time to download. (NOTE: It is the only literature you’re allowed to bring into your polling site.)

And — on November 2 — don’t forget to vote!

Roundup: Flu Shots, Voters Guide, CLASP Concert, More


There is no COVID vaccine yet. But — uh oh — flu season is near. And the Westport Weston Health District is offering flu shots.

Clinics are set for Wednesday, October 21 (9:30 to 11:30 a.m.); Wednesday, October 28 (2 to 3 p.m.), and Monday November 16 (1 to 4 p.m.).

There are no walk-ins. All appointments must be scheduled in advanced. Click here for details.

The WWHD accepts Medicare, ConnectiCare, Cigna, Aetna and HUSKY insurance, as well as credit cards, checks and cash.

Questions? Call 203-227-9571, ext. 231.


For decades, voters have relied on the League of Women Voters’ Westport Voters’ Guide. It was delivered with the local newspaper.

It’s here now, and more available than ever: The Guide is online.

It’s packed with answers to policy questions by candidates for president, Congress and the state legislature.

There is also a map of polling places, sample ballots, and absentee ballot information.

Click here for this great resource. Questions for the LWV? Call 203-293-7687.


The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has sponsored a great — and welcome — series of outdoor concerts this year.

The last of the season is next Thursday (October 15, Imperial Avenue parking lot). Part of the Chamber’s support for people with special needs, it’s a safe, fun, family-friendly evening called “Flashback to the ’80s and ’90s.” Band Central will play — and the very entertaining group is donating their time.

The event is a benefit for CLASP Homes. For half a century they’ve created and supported family environments for people with autism and intellectual disabilities.

Tailgating begins at 4:30 p.m. The show kicks off at 6. Click here for tickets ($150 per car; 70 car limit in the lot).


And finally … it’s a weekend in mid-October. Time to go pumpkin picking!

 

LWV Offers ABCs On Election Ballots

If you’re confused about when and where to vote this November: You’re not alone.

COVID-19 — and a nationwide move toward mail ballots — make this election different for many Connecticut voters.

Westport’s League of Women Voters won’t tell you who to vote for. But they’re happy to tell you how.

First, there are 2 options. You can vote in person on Tuesday, November 3 (6 a.m. to 8 p.m.). Click here to find your polling place.

You can also vote by mail. Every registered voter will receive (by mail) an application to request an absentee ballot. They’ll be sent within the first 2 weeks of September. If you don’t want to wait, click here to request an absentee ballot.

Fill out the absentee ballot application, then mail it ASAP to Town Clerk, c/o Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT 06880. Alternatively, you can put it in the official Connecticut drop box behind Town Hall (see photo below).

The Town Clerk’s office will mail out absentee ballots beginning October 2. Or you can make an appointment with the office to receive your ballot in person; call 203-341-1110.

Fill out your ballot, then mail it ASAP to Town Clerk, c/o Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT 06880. Alternatively, you can put it in the official Connecticut drop box behind Town Hall (see photo above).

The ballot must be returned to the Town Clerk’s office no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day (November 3). The drop box behind Town Hall will be open until 8 p.m. that day.

If you mail your absentee ballot via the US Postal Service, or deposited it in the drop box, you can click here to track it.  If the ballot was not received, contact the town clerk (tclerk@westportct.gov; 203-341-1110).

Of course, none of that can happen unless you’re registered to vote. Click here to learn how.

(For the Town Clerk’s web page — with even more details on voting — click here. For more information on Westport’s League of Women Voters, click here. You can follow them on Instagram [@lwvwestport] and Facebook [Westport League of Women Voters. Hat tip: Nicole Klein)

 

Election Day Is November 6. Here’s What You Need To Know.

Westport’s League of Women Voters has been — as usual — hard at work preparing for Election Day. (It’s a week from Tuesday: November 6.)

For one thing, they’re sponsoring a debate tomorrow (Monday, October 29, 7 to 9 p.m., Town Hall auditorium), for the state legislature candidates in the districts that include Westport.

In the State Senate, that’s Toni Boucher and Will Haskell (District 26), and Tony Hwang and Michelle McCabe (District 28).

State Legislature candidates include Jonathan Steinberg and Greg Kraut (District 136), and Stephanie Thomas and Gail Lavielle (District 143).

The debate will be televised on Public Access Channel 79 and Frontier Channel 6020.

In addition, the LWV has published its very comprehensive Voters’ Guide. It’s the only material that can be brought into the polls during voting. Click here to see it; click here for a printable PDF version.

The LWV also reminds Connecticut residents that the deadline to register to vote is this Tuesday (October 30). That includes name or address changes to existing registrations. Click here for more information.

Election day registration is available for new voter registration at Westport Town Hall on Election Day, starting at 6 a.m.

Need to check your polling place? Click here.

LWV Wants Your Candidate Debate Questions

With Connecticut teetering on the brink of financial disaster — and education, housing, transportation and infrastructure issues clamoring for attention too — the stakes are high in next month’s election.

So besides sponsoring their usual candidates’ debate, Westport’s League of Women Voters is taking one more step to ensure citizen involvement.

The October 29 event (7 p.m., Town Hall auditorium) will include questions from community members — and they can be emailed ahead of time.

To ask State Senate candidates Toni Boucher, Will Haskell, Tony Hwang and Michelle McCabe, and House hopefuls Gail Lavielle, Stephanie Thomas, Greg Kraut and Jonathan Steinberg anything, email LWVWestportct.org.

Screeners — 1 Republican, 1 Democrat and 1 unaffiliated League member — will ensure that all questions are nonpartisan.

Can’t be there? The debate will be televised live on Cablevision Channel 79 and Frontier channel 90, and posted thereafter on the town website.

Whether you ask questions, attend the debate or miss it complete, don’t forget to vote! Election Day is November 6.

(The League of Women Voters is co-sponsoring this debate, with the Westport PTA Council.)

Maker Faire Adds Governor Candidates

On Saturday, downtown Westport will teem with more than 12,000 Maker Faire-goers. Intrepid, curious, creative and resourceful, they’ll listen, ask questions and learn all about technology, arts and crafts, food, robotics, art, transportation and a whole lot more.

Curiosity is also a hallmark of the electoral process. Already, 31 people have filed to run for governor of Connecticut this fall. That’s a huge number — and it mirrors interest across the country in the upcoming midterm elections.

Eighteen of those candidates will be at the Maker Faire. From 12:30 to 2 p.m. at Town Hall, they’ll share their visions and dreams for the state. The Gubernatorial Forum is sponsored by Westport’s League of Women Voters, in conjunction with Maker Faire.

Hopefuls include Democrats, Republicans, independents and unaffiliateds. They come from all across Connecticut.

Two of the 31 candidates are from Westport. Marisa Manly (unaffiliated) will have the shortest trip of anyone. Republican Steve Obsitnik could also have walked there, but has a conflict and can’t make it.

The forum is free, and open to the public.

Every year, Westport’s Maker Faire gets bigger. This year it reaches all the way to the governor’s mansion.

League of Women Voters’ Guide: Corrected Edition

The Westport League of Voters’ Voters Guide is an invaluable resource for Westporters. Every candidate for every office — from 1st selectman to RTM — gets his or her name, photo and positions in front of everyone who cares to click on a simple link.

Unfortunately, the Guide that was published recently — and linked to here on “06880” — contained errors.

Click here for the corrected version.

And then vote!

 

Candidates’ Voter Guide: 2017

Before every local election for years, Westport’s League of Women Voters distributed a Voters’ Guide. Filled with biographies of candidates for every office — and, more importantly, their responses to very direct questions about key issues — they helped many Westporters decide who to vote for.

Back in the day, nearly every Westporter got those guides through the Westport News. Recently, they’ve been distributed with the Minuteman. Unfortunately, most of us have asked — with varying degrees of success — for that paper to stop littering our driveways.

Fortunately, the LWV Voters’ Guide is now online.

So if you want to know where the candidates for selectmen; the Boards of Education, Finance and Assessment Appeals; Planning and Zoning Commission, and the Zoning Board of Appeals, plus all 9 RTM districts, stand — as well as where to vote, get absentee ballots, even how to register — click here.

And — on November 7 — don’t forget to vote!

 

Sign Vandals Strike Again

There are very few political signs planted around Westport this election year.

But that hasn’t stopped at least one partisan from making his views known. These were all spotted today at the train station:

hillary-sign-1

hillary-sign-2

hillary-sign-3

We all deserve better.

Especially the League of Women Voters, Westport Young Woman’s League and Saugatuck Nursery School.

(Hat tip: David Webster)