Andra Vebell, David Lessing and Alan Hodge were nominated by the Democratic Town Committee at an Aug. 15 special meeting. They replaced three placeholder candidates who were put forth at the party's July 18 convention, when internal disagreements prevented the party from formally nominating a slate for the zoning commission.
"We couldn't be more pleased with the cross endorsement from Save Westport Now," said DTC Chairman Jim Ezzes. "They've cross-endorsed three exceptional and diverse candidates."
Kramer, whose citizens group has been endorsing zoning candidates since the 1970s, said in a statement: "We interviewed candidates for seats on the Planning and Zoning Commission election.
"Our interviews confirmed the fact that the candidates we chose -- David Lessing, T. Alan Hodge and Andra Vebell -- are in general agreement with our purposes. They are well qualified, successful in their business lives and will make a substantial contribution planning Westport's future ..."
"The three seats that are open are open only to independents and Democrats and we thought our nominations coinciding nicely with the Democrats' choice would benefit us both and ,most importantly, Westport.
Vebell is a lifelong Westport resident and a commercial broker for Cushman & Wakefield in Stamford. Hodge, a native of Great Britain, is a lawyer who was inspired to become a United States citizen following President Barack Obama's political ascension, said Ezzes.
"The three of them are incredibly talented candidates who bring three very different and valuable perspectives to the commission," Ezzes said. "Everything changes, but it's how you manage the change that counts. And these are the three people who we felt were going to manage the change the best."
Republicans have control of the seven-member P&Z and none of their four commissioners are up for re-election. Under the charter the GOP cannot now hold any more of the P&Z seats, so they are not running candidates in the Nov. 5 election.
However, challenging Vebell, Hodge and Lessing will be three candidates from an upstart political group called Coalition for Westport. The group's candidates are David Press, a former Republican P&Z commissioner who officially dropped his GOP registration in April; Glenn Payne, an unaffiliated voter; and Denise Lassman Torve, a Democrat.
Howard Lathrop, a Democratic P&Z commissioner and former chairman, is Coalition for Westport's treasurer.
After eight years on the board, Lathrop decided not to seek re-election because of the time commitment he said the job requires. Coincidentally, neither of the other two Democratic commissioners -- Ronald Corwin and Nora Jinishian -- are running for re-election, either.
"It's a coalition of both Democrats and Republicans," Lathrop said recently of the new party. "We're trying to take the politics out of the planning and zoning arena and go back to addressing the issues that are before us, and trying not to be so dogmatic and ideological."
He said the Coalition for Westport also supports the Downtown 2020 Committee's attempt to create a long-term master plan for the town's central district.