Westport DTC nominate candidate for open third selectman spot

Westport Democratic First and Second Selectmen candidates Jonathan Steinberg and Candice Savin.

Westport Democratic First and Second Selectmen candidates Jonathan Steinberg and Candice Savin.

Contributed Photo

WESTPORT — The Democratic Town Committee voted to recommend Candice Savin for the vacant third selectmen seat, following a heated conversation this week.

Savin had been Jonathan Steinberg’s running mate for second and first selectman respectively. Their ticket got the second most votes behind Republicans Jennifer Tooker and Andrea Moore, meaning Steinberg would become the third selectman. He declined to take the seat though.

What was believed to be the Democrats’ popular opinion of Savin’s nomination turned contentious after DTC members Joe Strickland and Jennifer Johnson were also nominated by other members heading into Wednesday night’s meeting.

Ultimately, Savin was selected to be the DTC’s nominee for the seat with a final vote count of 49-0, with one abstention by Sheri Gordon.

“I am very honored by the unanimous support of the Democratic Town Committee,” Savin said. “I was also very moved by the many complementary and supportive narratives about me that were shared by many members. It meant a lot. I’m honored to have their support.”

Savin said that while she is happy with how the vote turned out, she admits that since the DTC conducts their business in public at times it can be “messy.”

“I think that everyone had the opportunity to speak and be heard and at the end of the day, there was a very strong consensus among the members of the DTC,” she said.

Who takes the third seat has been a point of controversy in town.

Per the town charter, the first selectman candidate who comes in second assumes the third selectman seat.

TJ Elgin, the Libertarian first selectman candidate, has filed a lawsuit claiming he should get it since he got the next highest amount of votes for first selectman behind Steinberg.

Republicans Tooker and Moore received 4,237 votes. Steinberg and Savin received 4,168 votes. Elgin and his running mate Louis D'Onofrio received 64.

Town Attorney Ira Bloom said due to the vacancy caused by Steinberg declining the seat, Tooker and Moore have to appoint a member of the same party as Steinberg to the remaining seat.

Within the DTC’s nomination process, Strickland, who was not in attendance during the meeting, was nominated by Johnson. Johnson herself, was nominated by Sal Liccione, but ultimately withdrew her name from consideration prior to the final vote.

Liccione said the in-fighting between the group didn’t have anything to do with Savin, but more about the DTC in general.

“We love Candice, Candice is great,” Liccione said. “It was nothing against Candice. If Candice is sworn in as third selectman, I as an elected official in town and as a DTC member can support that, I also think that the party has to look within themselves.”

Liccione said that at this point it is up to Tooker and Moore to decide.

“Having a discussion can always take time, but it’s best to air these things out,” Savin said. “In this case, fortunately we agreed on the end result and that’s the most important thing.”

Now that the DTC candidate has been officially chosen, the group is awaiting word from the town on what the next steps will be.

Tooker and Moore will ultimately make the decision for who to appoint as third selectman, however, with Elgin’s recent lawsuit, there is no timetable on when the position will be filled.

Town Clerk Jeffrey Dunkerton declined to comment because the lawsuit is in litigation.