GOP backs candidate slate aiming to hold majorities
Updated 11:12 am, Wednesday, July 22, 2015
A slate of candidates for the Nov. 3 municipal election was unanimously endorsed Tuesday night by the Republican Town Committee, with party officials hoping to hold the GOP majority on both the Board of Finance and Planning and Zoning Commission.
The nominations were approved during a meeting in Town Hall.
Two Republican members of the Board of Finance — John Pincavage and Tom Lasersohn — have decided not to seek re-election. The finance candidates fielded for November will be incumbent Michael Rea, with Clarissa Moore and Iain Bruce.
“These are three outstanding candidates. They are very strong,” said Tim Wetmore, the RTC chairman, adding he is confident the GOP would retain its majority on this board.
“It’s not easy to do what we’ve been doing,” said Pincavage, who recently resigned as chairman of the board, with fellow Republican Jennifer Tooker taking his place.
Losing two valuable teammates is somewhat daunting, Wetmore told Tooker, who was one of several dozen people at Tuesday’s meeting. But, he added, he is confident the new GOP team will be equal to the task.
Following is the slate of candidates endorsed for the November election by the Republican Town Committee:
Board of Education: Paul R. Block
Baord of Finance: Michael Rea, Iain Bruce and Clarissa Moore
Planning and Zoning Commission: Chip Stephens, Cathy Walsh, Jack Whittle and Al Gratrix
Board of Assessment Appeals: Garson F. Heller Jr.
Zoning Board of Appeals: William R. Harris Jr. (Tim Wetmore and Karen Hess, place holders)
All four Republican members of the Planning and Zoning Commission — Chairman Chip Stephens and Cathy Walsh, Jack Whittle and Al Gratrix — have agreed to run again and were all unanimously endorsed by town committee members.
“It’s been an interesting four years,” said Stephens, adding he and other commission members are pleased by the support they’ve gotten. “It’s good for the party,” he said, adding there are a lot of challenges ahead for the P&Z.
“I can’t stress the importance of maintaining our majority” on the finance and P&Z panels, said First Selectman Jim Marpe, the town’s GOP chief executive who is at the midpoint of a four-year term. He listed what he called some of the Republican majority’s recent accomplishments, including a tax rate increase for the new fiscal year that is “effectively zero” and preventing construction of a large housing development at the Westport Inn site.
Wetmore congratulated the P&Z for asking applicants or neighbors to work out a problem before coming back before the board for a ruling. “That’s unusual and I give them high marks for that,” he said.
Wetmore and Karon Hess will serve as place holders, or de facto candidates, for two other seats on the ZBA until September. “We don’t plan to run,” Wetmore said of himself and Hess.
Elizabeth Wong, a ZBA member for 18 years, decided not to seek re-election. “I was willing to run again, only if uncontested,” she said, adding she had projects to complete and didn’t have time to campaign.
Wetmore congratulated Wong for her service. “It’s not a high-profile board,” he said. “It’s tough to lose her.”