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Steinberg drops out of first selectman race as parties move to endorse slates

Published 12:14 pm, Thursday, July 11, 2013

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  • State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-136, has decided to withdraw from the contest for this year's Democratic nomination for first selectman in advance of the party's nominating convention July 18. Photo: File Photo / Westport News

    State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-136, has decided to withdraw from the contest for this year's Democratic nomination for first selectman in advance of the party's nominating convention July 18.

    Photo: File Photo

 

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State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-136, has decided to withdraw from the race for first selectman this year.

Steinberg told the Westport News on Thursday that he will not enter his name for consideration at next Thursday's meeting of the Democratic Town Committee, when candidates to boards and offices will be formally endorsed for this November's municipal election.

Republicans will officially endorse a slate of candidates Tuesday.

"I'm dropping out, I'm not going to put it to the test next week," Steinberg said. "It became clear I wasn't going to prevail and I didn't see any real benefit to going through with a vote when the outcome was pretty much established."

Longtime Board of Finance member Helen Garten was recommended in May by a search committee of the Democratic Town Committee to be the party's first selectman candidate in the fall election against Republican Jim Marpe, the expected GOP nominee. The town's top job is open this year since First Selectman Gordon Joseloff announced that he would not be a candidate for a third term.

Melissa Kane, a District 3 delegate to the Representative Town Meeting, is expected to receive Democrats' backing to be Garten's running mate as the selectman candidate, and Avi Kaner, the current chairman of the Board of Finance, has been recommended to join Marpe atop the GOP ticket in the selectman's slot.

Steinberg also said he will not challenge the town committee's nominee in a September primary.

"I think I'd have a good shot in a primary, but I didn't want to cause an expense for the town. I didn't want to make it harder for the (Democratic) candidate against what will be a difficult opponent in the fall," he said. "So it just seemed like the right thing to do at this point."

Steinberg, a former member of the RTM, said he was frustrated by the lack of support among Democrats.

"I really wanted it, and it's hard to accept sometimes that you can't always get what you want. Maybe that's OK, but it takes some getting used to," said Steinberg, who added that he intends to run for re-election as a state representative next year.

Republican and Democratic search committees have officially recommended candidates for town boards and offices, but officials from both parties declined to identify all of the contenders in advance of the respective nomination meetings.

"Whether it's Republicans or Democrats, that's something that's done that night and voted on by state law at a convention," said DTC Chairman Jim Ezzes. "So those names are released at those conventions."

The Board of Education is currently controlled by the Democrats, 4-3. Two Democrats, Elaine Whitney and Brett Aronow, are up for re-election. Two Republicans, Mike McGovern and Jeannie Smith, are up for re-election and expected to run again. The GOP needs one more candidate for the board, said RTC Chairwoman Desiree Soli, as current Board of Education member Jennifer Tooker is expected to contend for the Board of Finance.

The Board of Finance is currently controlled by the Republicans, 4-3. Kaner is not running again and the GOP will need a replacement candidate, who will most likely be Tooker. Democrat Brian Stern is up for re-election, and the Democrats will also need to name two more candidates, including one to replace Garten.

Republicans will retain control of the Planning and Zoning Commission, as they hold a 4-3 advantage and all four GOP commissioners have two years remaining on their terms. Democrats will be putting forth three candidates to replace Ron Corwin, Howard Lathrop and Nora Jinishian, all of whom are stepping aside.

The political parties next week will also be endorsing candidates for other town boards and offices, including Zoning Board of Appeals, Board of Assessment Appeals and Probate Court.