Elgin, D’Onofrio look to stop Westport’s COVID restrictions if elected

TJ Elgin, 31, of Westport, recently announced his candidacy for the 2021 Westport first selectman's race.

TJ Elgin, 31, of Westport, recently announced his candidacy for the 2021 Westport first selectman's race.

TJ Elgin/Contributed

WESTPORT — Libertarian candidates, TJ Elgin and Louis D’Onofrio, plan to stop COVID restrictions, address traffic concerns and add environmental initiatives if elected first and second selectman.

Elgin, 31, said the number one thing that he wants to do is stop the COVID restrictions and mandates.

“I’m fearful at what’s to happen if this continues,” he said.

He said they’re approaching two years of children wearing masks and worries about the potential physical, psychological and health damage it will accrue.

“I understand there’s some discrepancy of having mask or no mask, but I just feel like if it’s that much of a safety concern why are we sending all of these kids under one roof?” he added. “If masks continue, I don’t think students should be taught from school.”

Elgin, a Westport native, grew up within the school district and first became interested in politics in high school. He began educating himself about local government, volunteering and then ultimately became a part of the Westport Democratic Town Committee.

He said he was frustrated with how the committee was run and sought real change, so he decided to leave and run as an unaffiliated candidate for first selectman in 2017. Elgin said the experience taught him so much, and this time he wants to run on the Libertarian ticket.

“I learned a boatload,” Elgin said. “The difference with me is that I am for the people not the party. That’s why I get a long with both sides. I talk to Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Green party. We all have similar ideas. It’s really just bringing us all together.”

During the first election in 2017, Elgin went at it solo, however, this time he decided to team up with D’Onofrio.

D’Onofrio, 35, is a nurse practioner and the former director of community health for the Westport Weston Health District. He filed a lawsuit against the district and the executive director this summer, claiming his First Amendment rights were violated when he raised alleged safety concerns in the office.

Elgin said the two met when D’Onofrio reached out to him. D’Onofrio told he was frustrated with how the town reacted to a possible corruption case at the health district and wanted to see change. After meeting several times to talk about different situations, Elgin asked D’Onofrio to run with him.

“Frustration with the political system got me into running,” D’Onofrio said. “There is a lack of transparency. There are a lot of issues in the town of Westport that we need to address and correct it.”

Elgin said the different backgrounds between himself and D’Onofrio is a great benefit because it adds different skillsets and an added reason as to why they decided to run together. He said D’Onofrio was the one to call for the first COVID testing in the state and began testing the area’s first responders.

“His thing is that it’s people before anything,” he said. “He has gone above and beyond throughout this whole crisis so that’s why I believe him next to me is something that is needed for the town. I think we are a great duo.”

Elgin said his own experience will help with other areas.

“With my business expertise and my farming background and agricultural knowledge, I really feel like I have the skills to make the town greener, make the town more efficient and make things more transparent,” he added. “There’s a lot of things we can do to clean up the town really well.”

D’Onofrio said Elgin “is a man of action.”

“We need people to take action in this town,” D’Onofrio said. “We don’t want people to promise things and then not follow through, he is a man of action.”

Elgin and D’Onofrio said they want to address traffic concerns. Elgin said Westport needs to do more to captivate the drivers passing through.

“We should be promoting more checkpoints in Westport. All main roads, all roads that have establishments, restaurants, plazas and shopping centers,” Elgin said. “We should have solar panel stands that have the restaurants names and little markers that say at this point you are expected to wait an hour or 45 minutes sitting in traffic.”

“I feel like not only will that alleviate some traffic, but it would also push people towards establishments,” he added. “A lot of people don’t notice the small businesses around because they’re upset and bothered by the traffic, but like I said it works on the highways, why wouldn’t it work in town?”

Elgin and D’Onofrio also said they want to put solar panels on top of all of the government buildings. They also want to reduce the town’s plastic waste and add water refill stations throughout town.

“We have the budget for it,” Elgin said. “There’s towns bigger than us with half the budget doing it.”