Brian Stern has resigned from the Board of Finance, 21 months before his current term ends. / File photo

By John Schwing

WESTPORT — Local Democrats are seeking applicants to be considered for appointment to the Board of Finance, where a vacancy was created by the resignation this week of veteran member Brian Stern, who criticized what he calls a change “for the worse” in Westport’s “collegial management and governance culture.”

Since he finds “working in this environment has made my individual effort far more difficult and professionally frustrating,” Stern wrote in his Feb. 16 resignation letter that he made the “painful” decision to step down immediately — nearly two years before his current term ends in November 2025.

Stern, a Democrat who served as the finance board’s chairman from 2015-21, was first elected to the panel in 2009.

“In the past,” Stern wrote, “my work on the board has been made easy by colleagues. They have been cooperative and constructive. Information and analysis flowed freely without bias and free from pre-determined conclusions. Decisions were made with open access to the all the facts and with folks genuinely listening to each other.”

Now, however, “the environment of openness in the town that allowed for that constructive work has changed. The collegial management and governance culture has evolved for the worse,” he continued.

“Finger pointing, personal animosities, habitual complaining, data replaced by anecdote and decisions by crowd noise have become the norm. Working in this environment has made my individual effort far more difficult and professionally frustrating.”

In the letter, Stern refrained from giving specific examples that led to his frustration, writing “that would likely make matters even worse.”

Democrats currently hold a 4-3 majority on the seven-seat Board of Finance.

To fill the remaining 21 months of Stern’s term, the Democratic Town Committee is asking registered Democrats interested in being appointed to the seat to email a resume/biography and explanatory letter to Michael Gordon, chairman of the party’s nominations committee at: mgordon906@gmail.com.

The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25.  Applicants will be contacted and should expect to be interviewed sometime either Monday or Tuesday, Feb. 26-27, according to the party’s announcement.

Once the town committee endorses a candidate, that person’s name will be forwarded to the finance board where the remaining six members will take the deciding vote on Democrats’ recommended appointee.

John Schwing, the Westport Journal consulting editor, has held senior editorial and writing posts at southwestern Connecticut media outlets for four decades. Learn more about us here.