Garten's skill needed

to ease pension burden

I enthusiastically endorse Helen Garten to be the next first selectman of our great town.

I have worked with Helen for four years on the Board of Finance and know well that she is bright, articulate, hard working and gets things done. Specifically, I witnessed her tirelessly work as the advocate for the town's successful, and breakthrough, contract arbitration that, for the first time, eliminated "defined benefits" for new employees. The new contract is now the template for all future bargaining unit discussions.

Pensions and benefits obligations for town employees are extremely burdensome for Westport's fiscal future. These obligations have doubled in the past five years, and in 2012 totaled $26 million, or 25 percent of the town's budget. Importantly, the next four years will see more of these contract negotiations, and we need someone who understands the issue and is primed for another successful outcome. Pension problems are not solved, but thanks to Helen, we are on the correct path.

Please join me in supporting Helen as the advocate we need for Westport.

Brian Stern