Candidates campaign down to the wire as decision looms in Election '14
It's down to the wire for local candidates vying for the four General Assembly seats that represent Westport this election year. For weeks, they have been campaigning door-to-door, talking to constituents and participating in local candidate forums and debates.
Incumbents on Tuesday's ballot seeking re-election are state Sen. Toni Boucher, R-26; state Rep. Gail Lavielle, R-143, and state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-136. Democrat Philip Sharlach is challenging Boucher, Keith Rodgerson is the Democrat opposing, and Republican Brandi Briggs is taking on Steinberg.
There is a total of 16,195 of registered voters eligible to cast ballots Tuesday, according to Registrars of Voters' statistics Thursday morning. Of that number, 5,730 are registered as Democrats, 4,433 as Republicans, 5,914 unaffiliated and 118 registered with other parties.
In the 28th Senate District race, Fairfield legislators -- state Rep. Kim Fawcett, D-133, and state Rep. Tony Hwang, R-134 -- are vying for the seat left vacant by Republican John McKinney. McKinney, state senator since 2007, decided not to seek re-election earlier this year to seek his party's endorsement for governor, but was unsuccessful.
The ballot next week is topped by the closely contested race for governor between incumbent Democrat Dannel Malloy and Republican Tom Foley, a rematch of their tight contest four years ago. Ballots also will be cast for the statewide constitutional officers.
Also on the ballot is the contest in the 4th Congressional District, between incumbent Democrat Jim Himes, who is being challenged a second time by Republican Dan Debicella.
Probate Judge Lisa Wexler, a Republican, is running unopposed.
Not only have the legislative candidates been hitting the campaign trail, their respective town committees are also working to support their nominees.
"We have been making phone calls and canvassing on the ground to get our message out," said John Hartwell, the Democratic Town Committee chairman. "Overall, we're feeling really good about and are anticipating a very good night," he said about the voting results.
He said Democratic leaders are confident Steinberg will be re-elected and that "there's a good chance" of taking one of the two state Senate seats representing the town. "There's never been a Democrat in either one in recent memory," he said, adding he wouldn't predict which of the two Democratic candidates has the best chance of winning.
While jobs and the economy are the main issues statewide, locally it's transportation, in particular Metro-North Railroad and the problems that railroad has struggled with over the past year, he said. Hartwell said that regardless of who is elected, all local legislators need to work as a group "to get the money to fix the railroad and get it back on track."
Hartwell said in the gubernatorial race, "it appears the momentum is with Gov. Dannel Malloy," but, he admitted, "It will be close." He said they are still working to get out the vote in that race, as well.
Republican Town Committee Chairwoman Desiree Soli said the GOP has a "terrific slate of candidates who we feel are the most qualified to represent Westport" in Hartford.
In particular, she feels that Briggs has a good chance to unseat Steinberg. "She's run a good campaign and has made a number of good, compelling points," Soli said. One is that the "one-party rule in Hartford is not good for the state."
As for Hartwell's statement about Democrats having a good chance of taking one of the two Senate seats, Soli said Boucher is a strong favorite to be re-elected, and that her party has a good chance to retain the seat held by Republican McKinney.
"We also know that all of these races are competitive, so we are working very hard on behalf of our candidates," she added.
"A top priority of Westporters," she said, is the state's "broken transportation system," an issue that has been raised at a number of candidate forums. She said another top priority is dealing with the "sky-high taxes that are making Connecticut unaffordable."
In the governor's race, Soli said it's "unfortunate that Dan Malloy has run an extremely negative campaign because he can't run on his record of failed policies."
"We believe Malloy's distasteful tactics will turn off Westport voters," she said. "On the other hand, we are very excited about Tom Foley and his plan to restore pride and prosperity to Connecticut. We know Ambassador Foley will be an excellent governor."
More InformationWESTPORT VOTES
Tuesday, Nov. 4
6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Polling stations (by RTM district):
District 1: Saugatuck Elementary School gym
District 2: Saugatuck Elementary School gym
District 3: Coleytown Middle School gym
District 4: Greens Farms Elementary School gym
District 5: Greens Farms Elementary School gym
District 6: Long Lots Elementary School gym
District 7: Long Lots Elementary School gym
District 8: Coleytown Middle School gym
District 9: Westport Public Library