Letters to the Editor: The Levitt must stop, and Election 2017
Updated 10:07 am, Friday, October 20, 2017
To the Editor:
I was shocked when I learned that one of the conditions of approval for the Levitt Pavilion was that its sound system should “not create any nuisance to surrounding properties.” For years, the Levitt has flagrantly violated that condition, as well as others, disturbing residents from as far away as Compo Parkway, Evergreen Avenue and on up to Wilton Road near the Merritt Parkway. This must stop!
Decades of ignored noise complaints from residents living in that wide expanse have gone unheeded. It’s clear that neither Levitt management, nor the town, ever intended to honor that basic commitment to its neighbors. If my experience with angry and rude Levitt representatives this past summer is any indication, this organization is confident that it can ignore downtown residents with utter impunity.
I can only speculate about the source of that confidence. What I do know for sure is that the taxpayers of Westport have been forced to compete for the peaceful enjoyment of their own properties with the unrelenting intrusive noise coming from the Levitt. It’s plainly wrong.
Many of us have filed zoning complaints — only to discover those complaints mysteriously smothered in bureaucratic silence, with no action taken and no further information available.
Although it’s apparent that the town of Westport considers the misuse of town-owned property to be beyond the reach of the regulations that mere residents must abide by, I’m cheered to see that the issue of nuisance noise has become a topic of discussion as our local election season gets underway.
Perhaps the rights of thousands of Westport citizens to the peaceful enjoyment of their homes will finally be affirmed by way of much-needed zoning reform. And, of course, leadership.
To the Editor:
The Republican Party was primarily responsible for electing Donald Trump who believes in governing by humiliation of colleagues, slogans and angry tweets. The Republican Party has also given us a majority in both houses of Congress whose overriding interests are killing health care for millions of low income and middle class people while, at the same time, creating tax reform to benefit the extremely wealthy.
The only solution for us —Democrats and Unaffiliated voters — is to elect qualified Democrats to every board, commission and legislature in every hamlet, town, county, state and federal office. In November, Melissa Kane is running for first selectman, and she is a qualified Democrat.
Melissa Kane has distinguished herself as a successful businesswoman, public servant and advocate for the town of Westport. She currently represents Westport’s District 3 on the Representative Town Meeting, is co-chair of the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee and successfully introduced a new Downtown Master Plan for Westport.Other leadership roles have included service on the boards of the Westport Library, Green Village Initiative and A Child’s Place.
To the Editor:
How many Connecticut towns wish they had leadership with the foresight to prepare for the fallout caused by the State’s budget issues?
While other communities are forced to open schools late and cut staff, Westport schools were able to open on time with full staff and the resources our families have come to expect of our schools. This is because the Marpe administration and board of finance, of which Jen Tooker is a member, had the foresight to reduce the town budget by $1 million to protect our school’s funding.
In the last four years, the Marpe Administration and Board of Finance have dramatically improved Westport’s financial position. The town’s debt is 27% lower than four years earlier and the town’s employee pension plans have been reformed, resulting in a projected savings of up to $1.3 million per year. All this was accomplished during the last four years while keeping property taxes flat. In light of the State’s fiscal problems, we are fortunate to have leadership with the foresight to protect what makes Westport special while keeping it affordable to all its residents.
To the Editor:
I am a lifelong Democrat, but like so many Westporters — Democrat and Republican — I am extremely disappointed in the tone of our politics at the national level. It seems that partisanship takes precedence over progress, that some of our leaders care more about winning a fight than solving a problem, that bipartisanship and collaboration are things of the past. It feels like we are experiencing a leadership vacuum. Fortunately, Westport has, in First Selectman Jim Marpe, someone who understands what it means to be a leader. Jim is honest, intelligent, thoughtful and experienced. He is collaborative and a good listener. He is respectful of all others and their points of view. He cares more about the solution to a problem than he does about who gets credit for solving the problem.
We face so many challenges in our nation today that sometimes it is tempting to talk about all of them instead of focusing our efforts where we actually can make a difference. And therein lies part of Jim Marpe’s extraordinary value to us. Jim knows where and how, as first selectman of Westport, he can make a difference in our lives and then, each and every day, he sets about doing just that — making a difference whenever and wherever he can.
To the Editor:
How can you not vote for Jim Marpe? A sound mill rate, funded and supported school system, AAA bond rating, continual improvements to our infrastructure and recreational facilities.
Let us not forget, unlike Hartford, collectively bargained contracts with our employees that will keep our pensions fully funded.
Running a quarter of a billion-dollar business like Westport takes leadership and experience. Jim and his running mate Jen Tooker have it. Jim and Jen have both served on the Board of Education. Rather then talking, Jim and Jen have worked to create a cohesive relationship with the Board of Education and the town that didn’t exist four years ago.
While Hartford has let companies leave, Jim has used his corporate experience and management skills to sit down with companies like Bridgewater to keep them in Westport. Moves like this are reasons why our tax base continues to be low compared to neighboring towns. More commercial tax dollars equals more money for our schools.
To the Editor:
I write this letter as an endorsement of Melissa Kane for first selectman of Westport. I have known Melissa for the past 10 years as we worked side-by-side on many initiatives to benefit the town of Westport, and beyond. As co-founder of Green Village Initiative, I was fortunate to have Melissa’s support and energy as we worked to build 25 school gardens and an urban farm in Bridgeport. Melissa came to many of the garden builds, always working diligently with community members to make a real difference in their neighborhoods.
Melissa acts selflessly and purposefully in all initiatives. She would also add her own personal flair for design whenever GVI hosted fundraisers or events. At our “ground breaking” event at Reservoir Community Farm in Bridgeport, Melissa dug in, literally, to build dozens of garden beds with fellow volunteers. Whenever there was work to be done Melissa pitched in without hesitation, inspiring all of us with her boundless energy and positive spirit.
I have the utmost respect for Melissa’s calm positive manner that says ‘yes we can, together, and with a smile.’ I know that Melissa would make an incredible first selectman for Westport, giving completely of herself for the good of all.
To the Editor:
I am writing to express my full support of Melissa Kane for first selectperson of Westport. Many others have written about Melissa’s qualifications as they relate to her clear ability to manage the needs of this town. I know that to be true, but I have gotten to know Melissa in another capacity. I know Melissa first and foremost as an activist.
Melissa is one of those rare people who not only has the vision, energy, and intelligence to manage this town, she also has the qualities that I believe are so important for our community right now, at this very unnerving time in our history. Melissa is not afraid to speak out. She is not afraid to ask for what is right, without waiting to see if the political consensus is going to agree with her. She will not wait and see what is politically expedient, and she is not afraid to let you know when she believes that something is unjust and unfair.
Melissa has worked tirelessly with Pants Suit Nation, Common Ground for Common Good, DefenDemocracy, Indivisible, Emerge America, and so many other activist groups that have been energized since last November. She has shown up for all of these groups, not because she is looking for a photo op, but because she truly and passionately believes in what the democratic process is supposed to look like, and she is willing to fight for that.
What Melissa understands is that it is critical for the future of this town, this state, and our country, to harness this new found energy and bring people into the democratic process. In fact, she has done that at the local level by reaching out and bringing so many new Westporters into the DTC. She is an ingatherer. She is a listener, a motivator, and role model.
To the Editor:
Under Jim Marpe, Westport has been an oasis of relative calm amid the turmoil created by Hartford’s fiscal storms. When Hartford’s dysfunction threatened our school funding, Jim didn’t distinguish between “town” issues and “school” issues. He focused on Westport issues and prioritized and solved them with a town wide perspective. I don’t know if it’s his years of management experience, or perspective as a dad with a child who went through the Westport schools or experience as Chair of the Board of Education or just his concern for his neighbors after so many years in town, but he did what we all hope a First Selectmen would do: what’s best for the town.
During her years of service on the Board of Education and the Board of Finance, Jen Tooker has shown this same commitment to “do the right thing” and willingness to apply her management experience to solve problems for all of Westport. Among people considering moving to Fairfield County, Westport has increasingly become the first choice town, certainly because of what we offer, but also because we have our fiscal act together. Fiscal discipline today means we will be less buffeted by likely turbulence from Hartford tomorrow.
I am actually embarrassed that Jim and Jen have to ask for my vote. Their continued service is so valuable to me and all of Westport that voting for them really is the least I could do. More important, I want to say thank you to them for their leadership and commitment to Westport. We are so lucky to have them.
To the Editor:
I moved to Westport 41 years ago with my mom, who was looking for a place to raise me and my brother where she could thrive as an artist and kids could be kids. I grew up swimming in the sound and playing kick-the-can with my neighbors. I came back to teach in the same schools I was fortunate enough to attend as a child. I am raising my kids here with my Westport-born husband.
I met Melissa Kane at one of these schools, A Child's Place - which had been my own elementary school decades earlier. Melissa was engaged, communicative, and interested in people's stories. To use a townie expression, she was a "bubble-popper," which means she got you out of your bubble and made you feel connected and listened to. In a town where many of us get stuck in our bubbles, this is a welcome characteristic.
We've seen our share of Selectmen. Some led from the front, some led from behind. I am supporting Melissa Kane because she is the kind of proactive, experienced leader we need. Rather than hide and cut people out of town discourse, she invites us to be a part of that conversation. She doesn't confuse ribbon cutting or photo opps with work and active leadership. Melissa knows and loves Westport as much as we do, and she is in it for the long haul.
This is not a time for cutting people out of the conversation. Please join me in supporting Melissa Kane and Rob Simmelkjaer as they put their experience and energy to work for us, to build a community that includes us all.
To the Editor:
I am writing to humbly ask the voters of Westport’s District 3 to re-elect me to the Town’s RTM on Nov. 7.
I am running for my third term on the RTM because I really care about this town and the people who call it home. I want to continue working diligently on everyone’s behalf. (To learn more about where I stand on the issues, visit www.lynhogan.com ).
My husband, Steve Diorio, and I have lived in Westport’s District 3 on Cross Brook Lane for 18 years. We started our family in Westport. My son Rob (now a junior at Staples High School) and my daughter Anna (a 7th grader at Coleytown Middle School) have benefited so much from being raised in this wonderful town and attending our schools starting in kindergarten.
I have worked diligently during my 6+ years on the RTM on issues that matter most to Westporters: cost-effectively improving the town’s education system so the schools remain competitive and maintain their excellence; helping the town’s seniors “age in place” and supporting Westport’s senior center; working to make sure the planned Compo Beach improvements are and will continue to be implemented; consistently voting to prevent over-development and maintain the town’s history through preservation; fighting to improve daily quality-of-life issues such as adding sidewalks when and where feasible (and the fight goes on!); and providing the Westport Fire and Police departments with the resources they need to stay safe while they keep us safe.
I am also an active volunteer. I care about the people in this town and the issues and causes most important to them. I have served on the Town’s Fire Station Strategic Planning Committee and the Westport Town Planning Implementation Committee after being appointed to both by the First Selectman.
I am in my sixth year as a Westport Girl Scout leader. I have been a PTA volunteer since my first child started kindergarten. I am active in Westport’s Assumption Church and I even attended the "Fireman for a Day" training provided by the fire department at which I learned pretty quickly how physically and mentally tasking it is to be a first responder. When I first moved to Westport I was on the boards of Project Return and New Neighbors. I have also cooked meals for the Gillespie Center for the Homeless, packed Thanksgiving and Christmas food boxes for Al’s Angels, and raised funds over the years for various causes inside and outside of Westport including the Hole in the Wall Gang Summer Camp, Save the Children, and the Cesar Batalia School and Family Resource Center in Bridgeport among others.
Please go to the polls on November 7 and vote. If you live in District 3, I hope I have earned your support. Regardless, please participate in our wonderful democracy and exercise your right to vote! District 3 votes at Coleytown Middle School. To find your polling place, go to http://www.westportct.gov/index.aspx?page=646
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.
To the Editor:
My support for Lauren Soloff comes in two forms:
First, Lauren and her family have been our neighbors for the entire 17 years my family has lived in Westport. They are good neighbors who care about our community.
Second, Lauren has been involved with numerous community organizations, including vice chair of Homes with Hope, SES PTA and TCS Synagogue. In addition, as an attorney and a business owner, she knows the importance of sound business practices.
Please vote for Lauren Soloff for RTM District 9 this November.
To the Editors:
My support for Velma comes primarily from working with her in her capacity as chair of the RTM Education Committee. Velma always has the best interests of the children and Town in mind and does an excellent job in balancing the two.
Velma’s background in education, as a retired Westport Principal, Vice Principal, K-12 Director and teacher have given her the skills to know what she talks about.
Please vote for Velma Heller for RTM District 9 representative this November.
To the Editors:
The team of Marpe/Tooker is prepared to take on the challenges that we face in Westport impacted by the political process in Washington and Hartford. More than ever before we need experience and leadership as well as proven history of performance. They will effectively address issues which affect our community, maintain and improve our quality of life and financial health of our Town and assure us of the continued excellence in education. Success on these issues require experience and leadership.
There is not enough space in this article to list the achievement of Jim Marpe in just a few years as First Selectman. His efforts have improved every aspect of our lives including our quality of life, the economic vitality of our Town, the quality of education of our children, services to our senior community and Town finances. For details take a few minutes to look at www.MarpeTooker.com . Jim has served the community by departing from the norm. Rather than making appointments to Town boards and commissions from one political party he chose the best, the most knowledgeable, the most experienced with a history of performance notwithstanding political affiliation. It has worked. Jen Tooker brings a history of service to our community in areas of finance and education, as a current member of the Board of Finance and former member of the Board of Education, together with a successful 22 year history as a business executive. There is much she has done and will continue to do for our community.
You can assure our Town of continued leadership, performance and excellence by re-electing Jim Marpe and voting for the Marpe/Tooker team.
To the Editors:
We will be voting for Lyn Hogan for RTM District 3 and we urge others to do the same. We first met Lyn 12 years ago when our sons played Westport soccer together and we have been friends with Lyn and her husband Steve since.
We know Lyn as a good mom to her son and daughter and as an active Westport volunteer. We only learned later of Lyn’s Washington, D.C. background and work experience that is very relevant to the RTM.
Lyn was the White House associate director for welfare policy in the Clinton Administration after working on Capitol Hill and for a public policy think tank. She also helped start a nonprofit, the Welfare to Work Partnership, that put more than 500,000 welfare recipients to work in 10,000 businesses nationwide. In Connecticut Lyn worked for Yale University’s Center in Child Development & Social Policy.
Lyn is an active volunteer. She currently serves on the RTM after originally being appointed in 2013 to fill Hadley Rose’s open seat. She has served as secretary of the Westport Democratic Town Committee and is currently involved in the PTA, Girl Scouts, and Assumption Church. Lyn attended Columbia University and earned M.P.A. and M.S. degrees.
Please join us in supporting Lyn for the RTM in District 3. She will continue to be a great asset to the RTM and the town of Westport.
Ken and Ellen Greenwald
To the Editors:
I can't say enough about Andrea Moore and Vik Muktavaram who I am urging you all to join me in supporting for election to the Board of Finance. As a 3 term RTM member I have had the pleasure of working with both Andrea and Vik.
Andrea Moore has been a friend of mine for over 35 years. Andrea's financial background along with experience on the RTM and being a Past PTA President, will only help in dealing with the funding issues coming down from Hartford.
Vik Muktavaram is a former member of our Board of Education who also has an extensive professional finance background. Like Andrea, both care deeply about our school system and town. Both will work hard to keep up the fair balance we've had over the past 4 years of funding our town and schools while keeping our AAA bond rating and low mil rate.
While others continue to try and bring "Washington to Westport," Andrea and Vik will continue to keep the "W" in Westport First.
To the Editors:
I endorse the candidacy of Melissa Kane for First Selectman. I have known Melissa for close to fifteen years and have worked with her on issues relating to Westport’s many assets, including the Westport Library and our downtown area. Melissa is intelligent, diligent, dependable, and always kind. She has worked hard for Westport in a variety of different roles, including on the RTM. Melissa has consistently demonstrated strong leadership skills, leading the way, for example, in developing a plan that makes our downtown more accessible and tackles worsening traffic problems. Melissa is ready and able to take on the role of leadership of our town as Selectman.
Melissa has smart and implementable ideas for making Westport an even better place to live. She understands the economic issues facing the town and the challenges of maintaining and improving our school system, our infrastructure, our public facilities and institutions, our environment, and our quality of life. She is both compassionate and intelligent, a perfect combination for coming up with solutions that will help make Westport the best town it can be.
Melissa, along with her wonderful running mate Rob Simmelkjaer, are preparing an economic development plan that details innovative initiatives to save Westport money. On schools, they will work in concert with the Board of Education and Superintendent to protect funding; already this year Melissa has worked for support of critical programs.
For seniors, Melissa and Rob will work to ensure that seniors finally have access to affordable, centrally-located housing or that they have the tax relief and assistance they need to remain in their homes. Melissa and Rob will take on the issue of affordable housing, by creating a plan that is designed to provide housing not only for our senior citizens, but also for teachers, firefighters, and police.
Melissa and Rob understand the qualities and values that make Westport special. They will work hard to make Westport the best it can be.
Please join me to elect Melissa Kane and Rob . The best choice for Westport, and Westporters.
To the Editors:
I am a life-long Democrat, but like so many Westporters — Democrat and Republican — I am extremely disappointed in the tone of our politics at the national level. It seems that partisanship takes precedence over progress, that some of our leaders care more about winning a fight than solving a problem, that bipartisanship and collaboration are things of the past. It feels like we are experiencing a leadership vacuum. Fortunately, Westport has, in First Selectman Jim Marpe, someone who understands what it means to be a leader. Jim is honest, intelligent, thoughtful and experienced. He is collaborative and a good listener. He is respectful of all others and their points of view. He cares more about the solution to a problem than he does about who gets credit for solving the problem.
We face so many challenges in our nation today that sometimes it is tempting to talk about all of them instead of focusing our efforts where we actually can make a difference. And, therein lies part of Jim Marpe’s extraordinary value to us. Jim knows where and how, as First Selectman of Westport, CT, he can make a difference in our lives and then, each and every day, he sets about doing just that—making a difference whenever and wherever he can.
I have known Jim for more than 25 years and on November 7, I will cast my ballot for Westport First Selectman for my friend Jim Marpe. Jim is the leader we need. He will do the right thing for us and he will do it the right way.
To the Editors:
As a 20 year resident of Westport and a registered independent voter since 1997, I am delighted to recognize the First Selectman Platform of John Suggs.
Mr. Suggs truly represents a unique position offering solid plans with deep solutions. His constructive views and his real deal communication typify the message that is needed for our community today. Sharp thinking with relevant knowledge of the trajectory of our town NOW has driven me to sound my voice in Community Politics once again.
Not since Diane Farrell, have I seen a more critical thinker and spot on messaging for what is important to our community and its’ needs. Blown out spending over the last decade on projects that have not shown an ROI have been disconcerting to this local resident and appreciate the value and spend Mr. Suggs has rolled out which will enhance our Town and conserve our budget. Of particular note, it is worthy to recognize his rejection of a 42M package from Washington and Hartford to rebuild the Saugatuck Cribari Bridge which would only drive more off line traffic from I-95 and strain communities adjacent to Greens Farms Road from Westport to Southport - our “Miracle Miles”.
Having raised two wonderful sons in the Westport school system and lived in three different homes on Compo Beach Road and now in Greens Farms, my family and I have watched the footprint of downtown shift, change and grow. Our downtown and beloved coastal shoreline, rolling hills and stonewalls make our community unique to our Fairfield County neighbors and an important footprint to preserve and behold.
It is with great interest and excitement that I throw myself back into the local political arena and help with the organic growth of John Suggs for First Selectman.
To the Editors:
Westport needs Jennifer Johnson on the Planning and Zoning Commission. For the past few years, our community has lost opportunities, failed to properly plan for its future, and has left development to the vagaries of the market place.
It is critical that voters change the makeup of the P&Z to include Jennifer. She will bring to it a common sense, well thought out perspective that has been sorely missing. I strongly urge your readers to support the Coalition for Westport’s candidate, Jennifer Johnson.