Published 1:03 am, Friday, October 23, 2009
Fortunate for Stern
As a life-long Republican, it pains me to vote for a Democrat. But having spent time with Brian Stern when he was with Xerox, I was totally impressed with his competence and energy. We will be fortunate to have him serving us on the Board of Finance.
Make your voice heard
I would like to thank the League of Women Voters for going all out on Saturday to raise awareness to get the vote out for the upcoming municipal elections.
It seems strange to me that 90 percent of us in town will turn out to vote in a presidential election the result of which, in this state, is generally a foregone conclusion, yet we have turn outs as low as 35 percent for municipal elections (47 percent in selectmen election years), the results of which impact our lives on a daily basis.
The quick math here is as follows: there are approximately 18,000 registered voters in Westport. If 35 percent of them vote, that comes to about 6,300 people. In a closely contested race about 3,150 people (half of those voting) or only 17.5 percent of all registered voters, will be making the decision for everyone else to live by.
I will definitely be casting my votes for the various boards, commissions and RTM on Nov. 3 and I strongly urge all of you registered voters to get out and make your voice heard.
A man who knows
what to do
Gordon Joseloff is a man of distinction and a visionary who was optimistic and believed in the future of the town of Westport during one of the worst recessions since The Great Depression. There were many neighbors and patients who lost their jobs, as we all felt the difficulty of the times. While governing as first selectman, he created a strong financial management and continued to obtain Moody's AAA bond-rating and keep a low tax base.
Joseloff has a profound background in world affairs and has studied with the masters in international journalism. As a native of Fairfield, and my wife a native of Westport, we have had the opportunity to watch this wonderful community grow and prosper over a half century.
I've also had the opportunity to see another side of our first selectman, Joseloff, who is a volunteer fire fighter and certified as EMT. It was during a homeland security pre-preparation terrorist disaster drill. He is a man of many talents, and has experience not only as a financial administrator, but is also a man who knows what to do in emergency situations to protect the homeland.
Please let it be known that I am not affiliated with any political party.
Dr. Robert F. Weiss
Awake, citizens of Westport awake! A radical majority of the Board of Education is using the national financial crisis to balance the school budget on the backs of our teachers, thereby wrecking the crown jewel of Westport: the educational system.
Last spring Democratic Chairman of the Board Don O'Day supported the proposal that teachers help balance the town budget by reopening their contracts and forfeiting their paltry raises. He led the democratic majority in a 4-3 vote for a $1.4 million cut in the school budget.
As reported in a recent Staples High School Inklings story and editorial, the same board is playing hardball in negotiations with the teachers union, causing consternation among teachers. O'Day and his colleagues pay lip service, of course, to maintaining the quality of our schools while sharpening the axe that will do the damage.
Republican candidate Avi Kaner proposes that the solution for the schools is a business model, when business created the national financial crisis in the first place. He and others extol Westport's tight budget and low tax burden compared to surrounding areas, apparently oblivious to the possibility that relatively low tax-paying Westporters might be willing to pay a little more to ensure the quality of the schools. Conservatives longing to cut spending on schools turn a blind eye to the property values that rest largely on the attractiveness of the schools and the quality of the teachers.
No one has asked Westport citizens if they would be willing to pay a bit more in taxes to maintain morale at the schools. The board majority simply asserts that deep cuts in education are required because the economy is in trouble.
While we slumber, the Democratic and Republican budget-cutters are hard at work behind a smokescreen of concern for education. If they get away with it, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.
my RTM member
Stephen Rubin is my neighbor and is running for re-election to the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) and I hope all of District 7 votes for him. His dedication of serving oru district and town has been proven over the years. He has a 100 percent attendance record. When we needed a voice for our new covered bus shelter and required safety issues addressed on Post Road, he was there. He is always available to us. Please vote for Rubin for the RTM.
I am writing to correct the misstatements made by Sydney Kramer, chairman of Save Westport Now. His revisionist history of the nomination process is inaccurate and misleading.
This past June, the Democratic Town Committee was in the process of forming a search committee to interview prospective candidates for the Planning and Zoning Commission. On a Saturday morning, Kramer and I had a discussion regarding the process. During this conversation he effectively "threatened" the Democrats and said that if either Howard Lathrop or Ron Corwin were to get the endorsement that Save Westport Now would not only not endorse the two men, but would activity go against them in the press and advertising. I asked why he and co-chairman, Connie Greenfield felt so strongly considering they had not spoken with either Corwin or Lathrop. I was told point blank that because they voted to approve the Y application that they would not be suitable to be endorsed. Although I explained that the Y approval was made after months of public hearings, careful analysis and voted on a bi-partisan basis, Kramer again repeated his threat. This is not the first time Kramer and Greenfield have made threats.
During that conversation I told him that in my opinion both men had done an exceptional job over the four years and even though people might not agree with a particular decision, ultimately a person and their performance are based on their entire record. Taking that into consideration, I informed him that I would recommend to the search committee that both receive the nomination from the Democrats. He again repeated his threat.
Kramer's claims that both men had been considered by Save Westport Now is not accurate. Neither man received a call to be interviewed. Corwin called him and requested a time to meet and discuss their concerns. Lathrop was never called nor did he contact either Kramer or Greenfield. Nora Jinishian was indeed contacted and interviewed. During that process she explained to them that they would be running as a team and that without an endorsement for all three Democrats that she wouldn't accept their endorsement.
The candidate they chose to endorse agreed to their rigid and uninformed agenda. They of course have the right to endorse anyone they choose. However, the concern is that should that person be sitting on the Commission the Save Westport Now agenda would prohibit an impartial, unbiased and educated decision. They have used misinformation, a distinct lack and misunderstanding of the regulations, buzz words and scare tactics to attempt to achieve their goal. That approach does not serve the residents of Westport well or fairly.
Equally disturbing is Kramer's suggestion that voters in Westport "bullet vote" for one candidate. It is of concern that a political party, even a minor party in the case of Save Westport Now, attempts to unduly influence any voter not to exercise their constitutional right to vote for the full slate of candidates who might sit on any board of commission. I ask that you exercise your right to vote and elect all three of the Democrats to the P&Z.
Vote for Liz Milwe
in RTM District 1
District 1 voters have the opportunity to vote for one of Westport's true leaders to be their representative on the Representative Town Meeting (RTM). Liz Milwe combines passion and commitment to make a positive difference in the lives of all Westporters. She has worked tirelessly to protect and improve our environment, and she is a great supporter of education in our town. Milwe has been a great representative for District 4, and indeed for all of Westport. District 1 voters, please vote for Milwe as your RTM representative. All of Westport will thank you.
Garten has grasp
of town's finances
Nobody running for the Board of Finance has a greater grasp of our town's finances than Helen Garten. She has repeatedly shown her talent for effectiveness as well as bipartisan leadership and has earned reelection.
As the first chairman of the board's audit subcommittee, Garten led the effort to define and then fill the position of internal auditor, a reform that had long been talked about but not realized.
As vice chairman of the board, she played a leading role in this year's zero tax rate increase, finding the right balance between the need to keep costs under control and the importance of funding our schools and essential town services.
The rating agencies recognized the quality of our town's finances in awarding our municipal bonds with a coveted "AAA" rating. Garten deserves a good deal of the credit for securing that rating.
Garten's running mate, Brian Stern, can be counted on to support Garten's disciplined approach. His long experience as a senior executive at Xerox and more recently as an entrepreneur will provide valuable expertise in finding and executing efficiencies in government operations.
I am confident that our town's finances will continue to be well-managed under the guidance of Garten and Stern.
Chairman, Board of Finance,
Zappi = experience
Bob Zappi is a needed addition to the Board of Finance because of his financial expertise and experience. However, Zappi will bring much more than that to the board: he will bring creative vision and practical, actionable solutions to the problems our town is facing due to its lack of effective management.
Zappi's experience in business and many other volunteer organizations proves he is a person who strives for excellence and achieves great results, something that has been lacking in this town for a long time. These difficult economic times call for astute business experience and expertise. We will find these qualities in Zappi.
A vote for Zappi is a vote to insure fiscally responsible solutions to the problems we now face in Westport. It's time for business experience -- not business as usual.
Save our town
and our country
This letter is to serve as a rallying cry to all Republicans and Independents. It's time to take back our town and our country!
There are several strong Republican candidates who embody our core Republican and Independent principles of fiscal responsibility, homeowners rights and love of this town over fiscally irresponsible Democrats and greedy out-of-town developers that want to turn our town into Norwalk or Stamford with excessive unrestrained development.
I strongly support Desiree Soli for Planning and Zoning. She is a Republican who is supported by Save Westport Now for her approach to responsible change and measured growth. If Soli wins her seat, the "Affordable Housing" text amendment will be defeated and homeowner's rights in Westport will remain intact. If the Democrats retain control of P&Z they will push through this text amendment and developers will have free reign in Westport for excessive development all along the Post Road, Riverside and Saugatuck. Why do Democrats Ron Corwin and Howard Lathrop support greedy out of town developers' rights over Westport homeowners' rights?
It is imperative that Republicans take over the Board of Finance and Bob Zappi and Avi Kaner are two long time residents and independent business owners that want to serve out of love for this town and will bring back fiscal responsibility to this board. After 12 years and a financial meltdown the Democratic majority supposedly agree that it is time for fiscal discipline. A vote for Zappi and Kaner is a vote for fiscal responsibility and a vote to keep taxes down.
And last but not least I support Michael Calise for Zoning Board of Appeals. Calise truly embodies what a dedicated public servant should be. He is one of the most knowledgeable candidates that has ever run for ZBA and strongly believes the "Affordable Housing" text amendment should be defeated. A vote for Calise is a vote to protect our town and protect home owner's rights.
Vote for Soli, Zappi, Kaner and Calise on Nov, 3 and take back our town. Now that's change I can believe in!
Anderson/LaFleur -- Proven capabilities
The indoor air quality problem at Kings Highway Elementary School was the result of years of maintenance neglect notwithstanding constant complaints from parents and staff. Yet a recent letter to the editor by a supporter of Gordon Joseloff misstated the facts. Our first selectman claimed no authority to respond to complaints about the indoor air quality from parents and staff due to the town charter yet somehow had authority to act when the problem rose to the level of public outrage. What was also not reported was that the town had a contract dispute with hygiene firm selected by the first selectman over performance, the firm failed to attend scheduled meetings with the town, failed to deliver a final report and was replaced by another hygiene firm.
Our youth was placed in harm's way due to neglect. Then selection of a hygiene firm to identify and recommend solutions was bungled. Our elected official reacted to a crisis created due to a failure to act earlier. We do not have in office a first selectman with the business acumen, talent or experience to handle a variety of current Westport problems. This is only one example. He has also not worked with or attended meetings of the Board of Education to help resolve critical issues which affect our children and grandchildren, our most valued asset.
Did the first selectman roll up his sleeves to personally work to resolve the crisis at Kings Highway? No. He sought the help of and appointed Gavin Anderson to resolve the crisis. Anderson worked with parents and Board of Education staff over a period of months and resolved the immediate problem at Kings Highway. Anderson is now seeking election for First Selectman. His business executive experience at Colgate, involvement for years in Westport Town matters, service for years on the RTM and Board of Finance makes him the ideal candidate for the office of Westport first selectman with Kristin LaFleur, candidate for second selectman. LaFleur has significant professional business experience; has served for years on the Board of Education and will be an advocate for our school children in Town Hall.
Westport faces other critical problems that require resolution. We should need no more encouragement to vote on election day nor to vote for the Anderson/LaFleur team for selectmen.
Burton T. Fried
Soli will stand up
Desiree Soli understands the importance of preserving the nature of our town and especially the integrity of our single family neighborhoods. Her commitment, combined with her experience in the field of real estate and land-use related laws, can bring a resource and an asset to our Planning and Zoning Commission.
She is endorsed by Save Westport Now, the first Republican in memory to receive that group's endorsement. Save Westport Now has long advocated for the protection and preservation of the character of our town, including our residential neighborhoods. That she meets their standard speaks volumes.
Soli will stand up for preserving our town and controlling the impact of any changes. She will have my vote on Nov. 3, and I hope that she'll have yours, too.
I'm writing in support of Judy Starr in her bid for re-election to the RTM to represent District 1.
She has been working hard for the district and for all of Westport. In fact, it is due in large part to her perseverance over the past six years that the town's sewer system is finally, after decades of waiting, being extended to Saugatuck Shores. This will be a great benefit not only to the hundreds of families who will connect to the system, but also to Long Island Sound and everyone who cares about the quality of its waters. Our beaches and clamming areas will no longer be at risk of closure from pollution by failing septic systems near the shore.
As co-president of our neighborhood association I have always relied on Starr to keep us informed of all relevant local issues and have found she works tirelessly in this regard.
I wholeheartedly endorse Starr's re-election on Nov. 3 and recommend her candidacy most highly to all District 1 voters.
I have been a Westport resident for 40 years and have raised three children in this town. I have been acquainted with Liz Milwe since I moved here. Because of my deep appreciation for this town, I served on the RTM for 4 years. For my second term, Milwe was my colleague in the 4th district. This year, she is in a contest to maintain her position on the District 1 roster. My connection with Milwe over the years has been both personal and professional and it is from this vantage point and experience that I urge residents of District 1 to keep Milwe on the RTM as your advocate. She is a person of great integrity who loves this town and is dedicated to work hard towards ever improving the quality of life that you seek for yourself and your children.
support for Corwin
In the 20+ years that I've known Ron Corwin, I've never had a "political" discussion with him. I've talked about kids' broken bones, back-to-school night, high school dances, ski trips, our various work situations, and how we both appreciate the town we live in. Until I recently read his campaign literature (Corwin is running for re-election to Planning & Zoning Commission), I would not have known if he is a Democrat, Republican or Independent.
My support of Corwin for P&Z is not politically driven. Instead, I base my endorsement for his campaign on his character, his respect for his neighbors and the applicants who have come before the commission, and his desire to make Westport a better town for all its citizens.
Corwin is a calm and measured voice on P&Z today. He understands our town's regulations. He is able to ask questions of applicants without being hostile. He is able to clarify issues among fellow commissioners without being strident. We long-time residents as well as our newer neighbors are fortunate that Corwin has dedicated the past four years to P&Z (two as chairman) and I wholeheartedly support Corwin for re-election to Westport's Planning & Zoning Commission.
Anderson-LaFleur: Time to look
to the future
The world is changing. The economy, financial markets and our views about what makes for fiscal responsibility are no longer the same. One thing that hasn't changed is our desire to preserve the quality of life that brought us to make Westport our home. The question that we need to address this election is whether we risk maintaining the status quo or do we take on new leadership that is looking to the future. Gavin Anderson and Kirsten LaFleur have put forward a new plan to focus on bringing operational efficiencies to our town. Go to their Web site. They have dedicated themselves to making sure that the various agencies and town boards will work together to maintain our high quality of services in a transparent, fiscally responsible manner. For Westport, this is a more critical election then most have realized. A change in how our local government approaches its business is necessary today for us to move forward. That is why I support the Anderson-LaFleur ticket.
Neil J. Wessan
As a long-time resident of Westport (will be 20 years during the next Board of Finance term), I do not believe we have ever faced such an important period in the fiscal management of our town. As a CFO by profession, I am acutely aware of the difficulties of making funding decisions in the face of declining revenues, and am very appreciative that Avi Kaner has decided to seek reelection at this important time.
As a past management consultant and a business owner, Kaner is experienced facing such difficult decisions. As a father of three children attending all of the school levels in our town, he is personally connected to the strong school system that brings value to all the towns' residents. As a Little League coach and constant sideline parent, he is available and seeks to understand our concerns and opinions during our busy days. As a voluntary religious leader in his community, he has demonstrated the compassion we want of someone facing the difficult financial choices ahead.
Having known Kaner for close to 15 years, I was not surprised to one day personally experience his dedication to the town. I spoke very late in the evening at a town hearing about the school budget. I was one of the last speakers from the audience and even the RTM members were getting pretty sleepy. When I got back to my seat I received a text message from Avi who had been watching this hearing of a board is not even on at home.
We are fortunate to have such volunteers as Kaner in our community and I urge you to use your position of influence to endorse him for reelection to the Board of Finance.
Selectmen can be proud of first term
Gordon Joseloff and Shelly Kassen have much to be proud of as they complete their term as first and second selectman. In four short years they have delivered on so many promises that have tangibly enhanced the Westport community. Joseloff's commitment to strengthen public protection has resulted in a long desired increase in firefighting personnel that complies with industry standards. Kassen's hard work to bring the farmer's market to Westport has provided support for local growers and highlighted the benefits of healthier eating. Their expertise in the financial area has insured a continuation of the town's AAA Moody's rating. Most significantly, their skillful budgeting in response to the recent global financial crisis spared taxpayers a tax increase this year -- all the while maintaining excellent municipal services.
They have not hesitated to make tough decisions. In difficult economic times, debates over spending priorities are a natural occurrence -- in every community. One thing Westport residents can be assured of is Joseloff's and Kassen's deep and abiding support of Westport Schools. As parents and citizens they have volunteered countless hours in support of our schools; as members of the RTM and Board of Finance they led in providing funding for our schools' programs and infrastructure.
Westport is indeed fortunate that Joseloff's and Kassen's remain committed to the hard work required to keep Westport a special place. Their stewardship these last four years has been exemplary. Their continued leadership through a second term assures a bright future.
Diane Farrell was the Westport First Selectwoman from 1997--2005.
I wouldn't change
When Kassen and Joseloff began their term four years ago my husband and I were new to Westport. We had moved for my husband's work and didn't know anyone. Our teenagers were not happy. They had never been to a public school or lived in the north. I couldn't imagine living in a town where there was no farmer's market.
The real estate agent assured us that the schools were terrific and Westport was a place where we would could get involved and make a difference.
Four years later the youngest has graduated from Staples High School and started college. I can say with out hesitation that her experience was every bit as rich and challenging as her older sister's boarding school education.
Four years later we have the best farmer's market in Fairfield County.
Neither one of these would have been a reality with out Shelly and Gordon's support and dedication to making this community the best it can be. I have seen their strong leadership skills first hand in my work with the farmers and markets. But I have also seen them consider matters from the downtown merchants to our carbon footprint. Each question is approached carefully and wisely with the interest of everyone in the community. I wouldn't change a thing on November 3rd. I hope you agree.