There are two candidates for selectman on Westport's Nov. 5 ballot.
And though first selectman and selectman candidates from the same party run as team, one will be elected to office without the other.
Democrat Helen Garten, the first selectman candidate, is paired with Melissa Kane, who is running for selectman. On the Republican side, Jim Marpe, the first selectman candidate, is paired with Avi Kaner, is seeking a selectman seat. Voters will cast one ballot for the first selectman/selectman candidates from one party and both either will win or lose, according to Town Clerk Patty Strauss. The losing candidate for first selectman also will become a selectman, she said. The selectman candidate with the lowest vote loses out entirely.
The town candidates for selectman, in alphabetical order, are:
Family: Married to Jonathan Kane, two children
Education: BA Mount Holyoke College
Occupation: Owner of a floral design business, MKK Designs, and a member, since 2011, of the RTM (District 3). I am also the co-chair of Green Village Initiative, a Westport based grassroots non-profit which creates social, economic and environmental change through local action, and a past Trustee of the Westport Public Library.
1. Planning for the future of Westport: We need to provide real leadership, and vision, for the way we grow as a community in order to achieve a balance between staying viable and vibrant and preserving Westport's unique character and its historic and environmental resources. Helen (Garten, candidate for First Selectman and Kane's running mate) and I are dedicated to making sure that the community's voice --with all of it many facets -- is represented as we plan for the way Westport is going to look and feel. We have a great opportunity in the Downtown 2020 Master Plan to bring together all of the stakeholders -- residents, landowners, merchants, cultural and community organizations -- and lead them in the planning and implementation of a common vision. My experience working at the grassroots level with many different constituencies to build consensus makes me an effective partner to the First Selectwoman. We will ensure that these plans are implemented in a timely and transparent way that reflects the desires of the whole community.
2. Sustainability and resilience: Environmental responsibility and resilience is part of my thinking on all town issues, including land use and how we govern. In order to remain sustainable, Helen and I are committed to preserving our open space, to educating the community on reducing waste, and to attaining greater energy efficiencies for our homes, our businesses, and our municipal buildings. As a coastal community, we need to be more proactive in preparing for and responding to storms, and the impacts of climate change, especially for the most vulnerable in our community including seniors and those who live in low-lying areas. For example, Helen and I will focus on better coordination of our emergency responders, town departments and utilities to assure that critical services are available during disasters.
3. Responsiveness and accountability of town government: A town works best when the government is in a continual dialogue with the community. We need to be responsive, and we need to be available. Helen and I are dedicated to being responsive to the needs and concerns of every Westporter. We are looking forward to bringing back Brown Bag Lunches, improving communication to and from Town Hall and making government easier to navigate for citizens and businesses. As Second Selectwoman my job is to be your advocate and point of access to the town. I want to -- and will make it my business to -- know what your needs and concerns are and help address them.
Family: Wife Liz, three children
Education: BS Columbia University, MBA (Finance) Columbia University
Occupation: Owner of Morton Williams Supermarkets, previously a principal at Booz Allen & Hamilton. Current chairman of the Board of Finance, chairman of all of Westport's pension boards, member pension and OPEB investment committees, and audit committee.
1. Reforming pension and OPEB (retiree medical benefits) obligations: Pension reform, initiated under my leadership two years ago, will continue as union contracts soon reopen. Our conservative financial discipline will ensure we're in a solid position to prioritize needed infrastructure improvement. A key initiative will be the implementation of long-range strategic financial planning.
2. Enhancing property values while preserving Westport's character: Initiatives will focus on increasing our property values and Westport's desirability. Young adults have many choices when deciding where to raise their families. While supporting our world-class schools, we'll focus on other town assets that are showing signs of age, including Longshore, Compo Beach, and downtown. Preserving Westport's New England character, small town feel, natural beauty, and vibrancy will be a driving factor.
3. Improving seniors' ability to age in place: Our initiatives renew Westport's commitment to seniors and encourages those who want to age in place the opportunity to do so through senior housing options and innovative programs. The senior housing plan on Baron's South, improved at the urging the Board of Finance, is one piece of that puzzle.