Westport race subdued, but pointed
The race for Westport first selectman pits incumbent Democrat Gordon Joseloff against two challengers, Republican Gavin S. Anderson and independent John Izzo, in what has been largely a low-key, friendly race featuring three men familiar with town government.
Joseloff has touted a no-tax-hike budget enacted this year and the town`s AAA bond rating. As further accomplishments, he has cited the hiring of additional firefighters, the placement of security cameras at the town`s rail station; the launch of a reverse 911 system; and the use of technology to provide more open and more communicative government to town citizens.
Anderson has chastised Joseloff`s flat mill rate budget this year as an election-year budget, one that has put off hard choices until after the election. Anderson has promised to institute more effective long-term budget planning and stronger fiscal management, citing his lengthy career in the financial services industry.
Anderson also has said he will work to improve the availability of affordable senior housing in the town.
"This is now an urgent priority because successive administrations have done little else but talk about it -- nothing has been achieved," he told the Westport News.
Izzo, a write-in candidate making his third bid for the job, has urged the protection of the town`s open spaces; called for across-the-board budget cuts in town departments; and pledged to expand the town`s senior-citizen tax abatement program.
Perhaps the most vigorous clash between the Anderson and Joseloff has come on the issue of affordable housing.
Anderson has said that text amendment language now before the town`s Planning and Zoning Commission in response to state affordable housing rules not only might be ineffectual but might block citizens from appealing decisions on where such housing should go.
Joseloff defended the proposed amendments, saying they would allow the town to place affordable housing in "logical transition areas" and prevent developers from invoking a provision in state law that voids local zoning rules if a municipality has not made sufficient progress toward the creation of affordable units.
"Unfortunately, our Republican opponents in the closing days of the campaign are using fear-mongering and scare tactics to make people believe that somehow hundreds of new housing units would be built under these regulations," Joseloff told the Westport News.