Westport filled its open selectman seat and made local history in the process

WESTPORT — The town made local history this week with the recent selectwoman appointment, making this the first time all three of Westport’s selectmen seats are filled by women.

First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker and Second Selectwoman Andrea Moore officially appointed Candice Savin as Third Selectwoman at a special meeting Tuesday, filling the open seat that had sparked controversy in town over who it belonged to.

“I am so pleased to be serving in this role and I’m looking forward to doing good work with Jen Tooker and Andrea Moore on behalf of the town,” Savin said. “I can’t wait to get started.”

Savin said there are many female leaders within Westport and with all three selectmen positions filled with women and other boards like the planning and zoning commission headed by women she is sure that “it will be a huge asset to the community.”

“We have a lot of great talent in Westport,” Savin said. “There are a lot of women leaders in our community and that is a good example for all of our kids.”

The decision to appoint Savin to the seat came after about three weeks of controversy that questioned the town charter, state statute and who should be the rightful candidate. The decision even sprawled out into in-fighting amongst the Democratic Town Committee and a lawsuit filed by Libertarian First Selectman candidate TJ Elgin, which has since been withdrawn.

The conversation surrounding the third selectman position started after Jonathan Steinberg, the Democratic first selectmen candidate who ran with Savin, almost immediately declined the third selectman position after election night. He instead decided to stay in his current position as the state representative for Westport.

His refusal of the position led Elgin to believe he was the rightful candidate to get the seat since he was the next first selectman candidate in vote totals 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.

Elgin was unable to be reach for comment on the status of his lawsuit.

Town Attorney Ira Bloom had said that due to the vacancy caused by Steinberg declining the seat, Tooker and Moore had to appoint a member of the same party as Steinberg to be third selectman.

The DTC then met last week to nominate a candidate for the open seat.

Joe Strickland and Jenneifer Johnson were also nominated along with Savin at that meeting to be the Democratic nominee. 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.

Savin was ultimately selected by the DTC with a final vote count of 49-0, with one abstention by Sheri Gordon, Savin.

Savin was sworn in as selectwoman on Tuesday, just in time for the new board’s first meeting on Wednesday morning.