Tag Archives: Westport League of Women Voters

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:




We all deserve better.

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

(Hat tip: David Webster)

Miss The LWV Voters’ Guide? Find It Here!

Every local election year, Westport’s League of Women Voters publishes a Voters’ Guide. Many voters rely on it as a comprehensive view of candidates for every office, from selectman* to dog-catcher.**

This year’s guide was distributed through the Minuteman. Unfortunately, with a recent switch in distribution, the paper failed to deliver the Guide to most Westporters.

LWV my town my voteNot to worry. The 2015 Voters’ Guide — highlighting candidates for the Board of Education, Board of Finance, Planning & Zoning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, Board of Assessment Appeals and RTM — is available on the LWV website (click here).

You can also pick up copies at the Westport Library, Senior Center and town clerk’s office in Town Hall.

The League of Women Voters is non-partisan. It includes men too.

It’s a fantastic organization. They’ve worked hard on this year’s Voters’ Guide. Check it out now!

*not running this year

* * not a real position, but always good for laughs


LWV Rocks “My Town/My Vote”

Last November, 15,223 Westporters went to the polls. That’s 83% of all registered town voters.

The year before, turnout was 6,306: just 37%.

The difference, of course, was that last year Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were on the ballot. In 2011, Westporters voted for candidates for the Boards of Education and Finance, and the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Not nearly as glamorous. But, one could argue, local elections affect us far more than national ones.

LWV my town my voteTo amp up enthusiasm, the League of Women Voters has relaunched its My Town/My Vote campaign.

Through Back to School Nights, a Facebook page and a train station blitz, they tell Westporters that 1) there is an election soon, and 2) every vote counts.

Of course, voters need more info than a jillion road signs to make up their minds.

On Facebook (Westport: MyTown My Vote), the League has posted information on voter registration, polling places and absentee ballots.

This coming week, the League will post its annual Voters’ Guide (click here). Candidates for first and second selectman; the P&Z; Boards of Finance, Education and Assessment Appeals; the Zoning Board of Appeals — and all 47 candidates for the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) — will describe their approaches to land use, property taxes, schools, recreation, security, quality of life and more.

Copies will appear in Thursday’s Minuteman, and be available at the library, Senior Center and Town Hall.  A MyTownMyVote team will hand out extra copies at the train station Friday morning.

The guide is the only election-related material that voters can bring with them to the polls on November 5.

Then again — despite the barrage of road signs, mailings and advertisements — it may be the only info anyone needs.

A League Of Its Own

In 1949, Westport stood on the brink of change.

No one knew what the 2nd half of the 20th century would bring — but the town had already begun moving toward something different, modern and new.

A group of women wanted to influence the future.  They were smart and energetic — and, despite their many responsibilities as housewives and mothers, they found time to work for Westport.

That year — sitting around a tea set in Mrs. Wolcott Street’s Myrtle Avenue home — they formed a chapter of the League of Women Voters.

Over the next 6 decades, the organization grew — in numbers and influence.  The LWV helped determine the structure of the nascent Representative Town Meeting (RTM); later, the League made sure there was open space on the Post Road, and led the crusade to “green” it.  Look at the Post Road today in Westport — compared to neighboring Norwalk — and you’ll see the lasting effect the LWV has had on our town.

League of Women Voters members, 1966.

Two years ago John Hartwell — an LWV member (it’s not just for men anymore!), who was taking video production classes at Norwalk Community College — was asked to tape a coffee celebrating the Westport chapter’s 60th anniversary.  Four former LWV presidents were scheduled to speak.

A detached retina forced John to cancel.  To make amends, he promised to interview the 4 ex-presidents in their homes.

The stories he heard — and the careers the LWV launched — amazed and inspired him.

Julie Belaga

For example, after her League presidency, Julie Belaga served in the Connecticut Legislature, ran for governor, served as New England director of the EPA, and was appointed by President Clinton to the Export-Import Bank.

Jackie Heneage went on to serve 2 terms as first selectman — the 1st woman ever elected to the post.

Pat Porio had a long career after her service as president.

By the time John interviewed the 4th woman — 5-time LWV president Lisa Shufro — he realized there were many more voices to be heard.  He vowed to direct a video — and asked Lisa to produce it.

Sixteen more interviews followed.  There were visits to the house where the League was founded.  Hours and hours of footage — and hundreds and hundreds of stories — had to be edited down to the final 43-minute product.

Two themes emerge from “A League of Their Own.”  One is how the LWV empowered so many women.  For example, Martha Aasen went on to become the national organization’s official observer at the UN; she then worked full-time there.

Ann Gill was a major force on Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission for years.  The list goes on and on.

From left: Marty Hauhuth, Ann Gill, Barbara Butler, Mary Jenkins, Jacqueline Heneage -- LWV members, and accomplished women all.

The 2nd major theme is the impact the LWV had on Westport.

The video debuted at the League’s annual meeting in June.  It was shown at the Westport Library in September, and Senior Center earlier this month.

Always, the feedback was the same:  Wow!

Women interviewed for the film were impressed how well their stories were told.  Other viewers remarked how much they learned about the League — and Westport.

Seeing and hearing about women who have gained so much from the LWV — and in turn have given so much back, to their town and country — brought tears to the eyes of some.

You can watch the film now:  click here.

Or you can go to the Westport Historical Society this Sunday (October 30), for a showing.  Afterward, 2 of the League’s living legends — Jackie Heneage, and Selma Miriam (a leading proponent of Project Concern, and the founder and longtime owner of Bridgeport’s Bloodroot restaurant and bookstore) — will talk, and answer questions.

The video’s title is a pun on the League of Women’s Voters — and the 1992 film about women’s professional baseball — but it aptly describes the role of this organization in the life of our town.

For 6 decades, Westport’s LWV has been in a league of its own.

A screenshot from "A League of Its Own."

Ballot Questions

Westporters love national elections.  So many of us vote, in fact, we’ve won awards.

Local elections — not so much.

“Very poor” is the way Katy Goldschmidt — a former League of Women Voters president — describes turnout in non-presidential years.  Slightly less than 50 percent in years (like this one) with a first selectman race, it dips to the mid-30s every 4th year, when even that office is not up for grabs.

Perhaps attractive models in t-shirts would encourage some people to vote.

Perhaps attractive models in t-shirts would encourage some people to vote.

“Everyone has an opinion” about the underwhelming numbers, Katy says. Hers is that voters are “bombarded” with information about national elections — but “it takes extra effort to make decisions about local candidates.  People have to do the digging on their own — but they don’t.”

In addition, she says, “people don’t read newspapers anymore.  They get information in different ways.”  Groups like the LWV, she says, “have to explore how to get information about candidates to voters.”

Katy considers voting “a moral issue.”  Except for selectmen, local officials are not paid.  Voting, according to Katy, “is a way of  saying ‘thank you’  for keeping the town running well.”

And, she adds, “you’re not fulfilling your role as a citizen if you don’t vote.”

The LWV has made a concerted effort to get people to the polls.  A “My Town, My Vote” event received excellent press.  But — perhaps deterred by stormy weather — few voters showed up.

Katy was heartened that, at a recent forum, write-in candidate John Izzo said:  “Even if you don’t vote for me — get out and vote!”

“We try,” Katy said.  “We’ll keep plugging away.”

(Election Day is Tuesday, November 3.  Click here for the LWV’s Voter Guide.)

My Town, My Vote

A year ago, a presidential election loomed.  Westport’s interest was sky high.

This fall, with candidates running for selectmen, RTM and various boards, our enthusiasm seems subterranean.

blog - LWVHoping to jolt us out of our electoral ennui, Westport’s League of Women Voters is sponsoring a community-wide event.  Today, the tongue-trippingly named “Westport — My Town, My Vote” celebration takes place all over town.

From 10 a.m. to noon, League members will man (or woman) tables at coffee shops, delis, hardware stores and (hey, it’s Westport) liquor stores.  They’ll offer information on where to vote, and why you should; answer questions, and provide voter registration forms.  RTM candidates will be on hand to answer questions.

From 1-3 p.m., a Jesup Green rally will include include candidates for townwide office.  The LWV promises the event will be “exuberant,” with music by local bands including Staples’ Sleeping Giants.

National elections are sexy.  But local campaigns have a vastly greater impact on most citizens’ lives.

Education budgets.  Teardowns and building permits.  Assessment appeals.  These are things we’re passionate about.  They’re decided by people we’ve elected.  Or not elected, because we don’t vote.

The LWV wants to educate Westporters about the issues — and the candidates who hope to decide them.  It’s up to us to decide if we want to learn.

(For more information on today’s celebration, contact Lisa Shufro:  203-221-1350; lisa.shufro@gmail.com)