Several Westport races still too close to call

WESTPORT — While most candidates were able to celebrate their wins on election night, several races remain too close to call.

As of Thursday morning, the Registrar of Voters office was recounting ballots for several of the Representative Town Meeting races and determining which Republican candidate will sit on the Board of Education.

“It was a very busy ballot,” Town Clerk Patty Strauss said of Election Day. “It takes time to study each one of these to make sure the calculations are accurate.”

SIGN UP here to get daily Westport News and alerts on breaking news.

Due to several races still being close, Republican Town Committee Chairman Joseph Sledge said he would reserve comment until an official statement is made by the town clerk, but noted this was an election of issues, not party.

“Obviously there’s community concern about what’s happening at Coleytown Middle School. I think there has been a lot of issues revolving around land-usage in town as well,” he said.

On the Board of Education, Democrats retained control with newcomers Youn Su Chao and Lee Goldstein filling the seats vacated by Democrats Mark Mathias and Neil Phillips. Currently the race between Republicans Vik Muktavaram, an incumbent, and Liz Heyer for the third open seat has been too close to call with 3,481 to 3,452 votes, respectively.

Though votes are still being recounted, Heyer said she was proud of the campaign she ran alongside Muktavaram.

“I believe that by engaging the community and bringing forward new ideas, we have contributed in a positive way to advancing the educational conversation in Westport,” she said. “I look forward to remaining active in our community and to ensuring the new board delivers on its commitment to unify our district and make decisions that are in the best interest of all of our students and residents.”

Regardless of the final outcome, Heyer said her decision to run for BOE was never about wanting to obtain a seat in place of Muktavaram.

“It was always about believing that both of us together could effect change,” she said.

While it appears Muktavaram will retain his seat, he said it still felt like a loss.

“Liz and I ran on a platform to fundamentally change the way the Board of Education governs and to ensure that the Board works for all of Westport,” Muktavaram said. “Having said that, the day after the election is a beautiful day in Westport as we move forward as a town together.”

“As a community we are stronger today as we celebrate Democracy and the privilege of exercising our right to vote,” he added. “Congratulations to Youn Su Chao and Lee Goldstein and to all the candidates this election.”

Democrats also maintained control of the Planning and Zoning Commission with Democratic nominee and incumbent Paul Lebowitz keeping his seat. Republican nominee Jon Olefson beat out Republican incumbent Al Gratrix for a seat on the commission as well as Coalition of Westport nominee Joe Strickland.

“I’m thrilled to be elected to a full-time position on the commission,” Olefson said, adding he has served around three years as an alternate.

“I also think this election is an affirmation of the work the commission as a whole has been doing,” he said, noting almost all incumbents were re-elected. “That to me is a pretty big affirmation of the current commission’s bipartisan efforts to steer the town through some difficult decisions.”

The Board of Finance also remained largely unchanged. Incumbent Democratic candidates Sheri Gordon and Nancie Dupier were re-elected alongside Republican candidates James Foster and Jay DesMarteau in an uncontested race.

For the RTM, District 3 had one of the closer races with Jimmy Izzo leading with 397, votes according to unofficial results from the Secretary of the State’s office. For now, the race has not been officially called due to one vote separating Ross Burkhardt and Arline Gertzoff, with 292 and 291 votes respectively.

District 5 also has a close race for the final seat between Peter Gold and Nicole Klein, with 379 to 359 votes respectively.

In District 1, all four incumbents kept their seats while challenger TJ Elgin fell short. District 2 and District 8 were both uncontested races with the top vote-getters being Christine Meiers Schatz and Lisa Newman, respectively.

Newcomer Candace Banks came out strong as the highest vote-getter in District 6 with 478 votes. Meanwhile, Kristan Hamlin led District 4 with 384 votes and Lauren Karpf led District 7 with 520 votes.

In District 9, incumbent Sal Liccione won his first official election after previously running twice before.

“Third time’s a charm,” Liccione said on Tuesday. “I’ll represent the district with pride and dignity.”

The newly elected officials will take office on Nov. 19.