In the coming years, as Westporters grapple with challenges regarding development, finance, education, environment and myriad issues, we need a person at the helm who has the leadership, experience, judgment and wisdom to help us move forward. Based on personal experience with Helen Garten, I believe she is without doubt such a person.

Helen's leadership as Board of Finance chair and her work during the financial crisis got us through a difficult period without any major tax increase while preserving Westport's triple A credit rating. The town's finances are in good shape thanks to her work -- Helen's track record speaks for itself.

My initial contact with Helen dates back about a decade when Westport faced the issue of access for dogs to our town's recreational facilities, a controversial and emotionally charged subject. Helen played an instrumental role in helping to diffuse the conflict and arrive at a compromise by calmly analyzing the situation and taking the initiative to work with groups with differing views. Helen's ability to successfully tackle a potentially divisive situation and arrive at a workable solution was exemplary. That is leadership.

In subsequent years, it came as no surprise that Helen continued to apply her analytical skills and sense of fairness in dealing with important issues, always thinking ahead, anticipating future needs and challenges.

For these reasons, I wholeheartedly support Helen's candidacy for first selectman and unreservedly encourage everyone to do the same.

Daniel Souza