Steinberg Declines ‘Third’ Selectman Seat; Questions Arise Over Filling Post

Nov 3, 2021 | Government, Politics | 8 comments

A disappointed state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg addressing supporters Tuesday as election results indicated that he lost his race for first selectman. / Photo by Jarret Liotta

By Gretchen Webster

WESTPORT — State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, a day after his narrow loss in the race for first selectman, said that he will not take a seat on the Board of Selectman.

Jennifer Tooker, the Republican who won the town’s top job by an unofficial margin of 69 votes over Steinberg, and her running mate, Andrea Moore, will take office Nov. 16. They will be the first two women from the same political party comprising Board of Selectmen majority in Westport’s history.

Democrat Steinberg, contacted Wednesday afternoon, said he does not wish to serve as the board’s “third” selectman, as would be the usual case under Westport’s election laws.

‘Third wheel’ status not appealing

“I am a six-term state representative and the chairman of a large committee [in the state General Assembly]. Why would one give up a large job for a tiny one?” he said. 

Steinberg said the third selectman, as the board’s minority party representative, essentially functions as “a third wheel” on the board, a position he does not relish.

Steinberg is in the midst of serving his sixth two-year term representing the 136th Assembly District in Hartford.

He is the House chairman of the legislature’s Public Health Committee.  He also serves on the Energy and Technology, and the Transportation committees.

Steinberg said he would have relinquished his legislative seat if he had won the first selectman’s post. But, he added, he would not leave the legislature for the third selectman’s seat, although he could have held both posts.

Attending meetings both in Hartford and Westport would be too difficult, he said. The third selectman also sits on several other municipal panels, such as the Water Pollution Authority, and must attend those meetings as well as Board of Selectman sessions.

Updated election returns: Recount not expected

Although the election results were not “official” as of early Wednesday afternoon, Town Clerk Jeffrey Dunkerton said remaining tabulations to be completed before the official winners are announced are not expected to change the outcome of the vote. 

In updated returns from Tuesday’s election, filed by local election officials with the Secretary of the State’s office Wednesday, Steinberg and his running mate Candice Savin lost to the Tooker/Moore team, 4,237 votes to 4,168. Libertarian TJ Elgin and his running mate, Louis D’Onofrio Jr., received 64 votes, according to the latest tally.

Although the size of Tooker’s victory is slender, the numbers remain outside the margin — one-half of 1 percent — that Steinberg would need to call for a formal recount of the returns, Dunkerton indicated.

Dunkerton also said that he will research town election procedures to gauge the next steps in the process of filling the last seat on the Board of Selectmen since Steinberg does not plan to serve.

Researching next steps to fill selectman seat

The victor in the first selectman’s race is determined by the candidate for first selectman with the highest number of votes taking the top job, and that candidate’s running mate filling the second spot. In Westport, the first selectman and running mate are a team listed on the same ballot line and are not voted on separately. The next highest vote getter, usually the first selectman candidate from the opposing party, is then appointed to the third selectman seat.

But with Steinberg out of the picture, the question arises over who will take the third spot on the board. 

Dunkerton said that position would likely go to Steinberg’s running mate, Democrat Candice Savin, who currently is the Board of Education chairwoman. But there was also another candidate in the first selectman race, TJ Elgin, who ran on the Libertarian line, although he received only 64 votes.

Savin could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

8 Comments

  1. Janet renowksi

    TJ for Third Selectman! Ah-woo, werewolf of Westport!!! ❤️❤️❤️

    Reply
  2. Brandon

    Does this mean TJ Elgin is possibly eligible for 3rd select person?

    Reply
    • Brenda bodeb

      It does! Let’s go!

      Reply
  3. Charlie Haberstroh

    I was appointed to the Westport Board of Selectmen to replace Gavin Anderson, who was “3rd Selectmen” when Gordon Joseloff was 1st Selectman. The political party that Gavin represented, the Republican Party, chose his successor (me), subject to the affirmative vote of the then 1st and Second Selectmen, in that case Gordon and Shelley (Kassen). So I suppose the DTC could choose Candice Savin or I believe they could choose anyone else, subject to the affirmation of Jen Tooker and Andrea Moore. The 3rd Selectman position is essentially a volunteer position, but it is not a position that should be denigrated in any way. I ran a company while serving as 3rd Selectman for 3 years and did not have to resign from my company in order to do so.

    Reply
    • Diane Johnson

      Charlie, thank you for your selfless, years-long and ongoing service to our town. We have all benefited from your thoughtful contributions and volunteer service. Well done you!

      Reply
  4. Paul Greenberg

    Not classy at all. A real carpetbagger attitude. Duly noted when Mr. Steinberg come up for re-election.

    Reply
  5. Bart Shuldman

    Now Westport really gets to see what Steinberg is all about. It is never about Westport or helping Westport. Remember he voted in Hartford to cut $2.2 million in state funds towards Westport education. It’s about an angry person who thinks of himself first and his friends in Hartford.

    Reply
  6. T.tessie

    Beyond his terrible record, Mr.Steinberg lost because the fact is he’s the least friendly person in our entire town. He struggles to smile, has a condescending demeanor, and always appears angry as others have already mentioned. There’s nothing “mayoral” about him and Jennifer Tooker and Andrea Moore reflect the welcoming and friendly town that Westport is. Westport has spoken and everyone is now aware of how Steinberg went along with more than 2 million in state funding cuts to Westport schools. I think the clear next step is to elect someone who will represent Westport’s interests in Hartford—not his own.

    Reply

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