Candidates work for votes in 11th hour
An event where children dress up as princesses and Star Wars characters while seeking candy would typically be considered a non-partisan event. Yet, as October draws to a cold and rainy end and the Nov. 3 election approaches, a torrential downpour forced the Westport Halloween parade -- and candidates campaigning -- inside to Town Hall on Wednesday.
Many of the trick-or-treaters used plastic pumpkins to hold all the candy, but a number also used free reusable bags that were distributed by representatives from Republican selectman candidates Gavin Anderson and Kristin LaFleur campaign. Democrats, including first selectman Gordon Joseloff, were also present at the event -- though none of the candidates were in costume.
`Tis the election season.
Joseloff and his running mate Shelly Kassen, the incumbents, and Republican challengers Anderson and LaFleur are gearing up for the final days of their campaigns and hoping that voters turn out in high numbers on Tuesday.
"If I reflect on the campaign, I think most of the objectives I set for myself and we set have been achieved," said Anderson. "I hope it`s been a fair and decent campaign and we presented to Westport our positions."
He added, "The biggest hope, and the one thing I can`t control, is that people will actually come out and vote. That`s the biggest worry -- that people will be occupied [and not vote]."
Joseloff said that he thinks the election has been run very well, and he echoed Anderson`s concerns.
"We`re very encouraged," Joseloff said. "I think the real trick is to get people out to vote. Don`t be complacent."
Finance records obtained from the Town Clerk show that from Oct. 1 to Oct. 20, the candidates have been spending fast and soliciting donations in order to catch the public`s attention. This time period is the most recent finance records for the candidates that can be obtained before the election.
In that time period, the Joseloff-Kassen campaign spent $16,490.19 and raised $6,855. The biggest chunk of money -- $6,660 -- went toward mailers. On the other side, Anderson and LaFleur spent $8,085.41 of the $8,294.20 raised, on such items as stamps ($1,260) and signs and stickers ($3,510.85).
On Thursday, Anderson had awoken at 5 a.m. to meet possible voters before they caught a train to work. In the days leading up to the election, he has also been telephoning people before they head to the polls.
"Basically, a week before the end everything you can do is done," said Anderson."Now, it`s a case of organizing in the last minute and polishing up what we`re doing. We got a great team and they`re doing all the hard work."
Joseloff said he also met some people at the train station and has been making calls.
"We feel very good about the election," he said. "We`re getting a lot of positive feedback. I think some of the mudslinging that has gone on has not stuck."
Anderson wasn`t present at the Halloween festivities at Town Hall, while Joseloff greeted the costumed children as they came inside. Anderson`s wife, Kendall Gardiner, was manning a table, and their grandson, Ethan, was campaigning as he trick-or-treated. Anderson said that his grandson was telling people to vote for his grandpa, and that he helped hand out customized M&Ms.
"It`s gratifying when little ones get to learn that Halloween is fun and, during election time, Halloween is especially fun," said Anderson.
He added, "I love it when I see parents bringing children to the polls because that`s the beginning of teaching them about what our system is all about and that`s important."