Editor’s note: Following is a statement issued by Save Westport Now on this year’s municipal election campaign.

Save Westport Now Endorses Two for P&Z 

(Plus, a Note on Other Races) 

Save Westport Now is delighted to announce that it is endorsing two outstanding candidates for the Planning & Zoning Commission: 

Paul Lebowitz, who is running on the Democrat line, and Michael Calise, who is one of four Republicans running. 

Mr. Lebowitz is the current vice-chair of P&Z and has served on the Commission for 8 years. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role. We have been especially impressed by his fair-mindedness and his willingness to ask tough questions, insisting that applicants address concerns and offer sound reasoning to justify requests. We believe that Mr. Lebowitz will act as an excellent steward as the Town continues to grapple with controversial zoning applications. 

Mr. Calise is a new candidate for P&Z and a true local treasure. A lifetime Westport resident, Mr. Calise has unsurpassed institutional knowledge about our community and appreciates the importance of planning for smart, sensible growth. At the same time, he has always been a zealous advocate for the environment and especially for open space. We believe that his knowledge of the zoning regulations is unsurpassed and he will play a critical role as Westport plans for the future. 

Both Mr. Calise and Mr. Lebowitz have demonstrated — through deed and word — that they are forward thinkers, committed to providing full and fair hearings for applicants while also planning for the future and protecting residents’ quality of life. Please join us in voting to elect these two outstanding individuals to the P&Z. 

We believe that land use issues will play a critical role in shaping the town in the years ahead, and we applaud and appreciate all of the candidates in this race for their willingness to serve the town in this important way. We note that, although Save Westport Now is only endorsing two candidates, there are 4 open seats on P&Z this year. We encourage Westport residents to review the positions of the other candidates and to vote for 2 more candidates whose ideas most closely align with your vision for Westport.

For those who are new to Westport elections, the seven-member P&Z commission, by town bylaws, can have no more than four members from one party, which is why there are four Republicans and only one Democrat running this year (three of the four sitting Democrat- nominated members of the commission are not up for re-election this year). We encourage Westport residents to review the positions of all six candidates running for the four P&Z seats and, most importantly, to vote! 

A Note About Other Races 

Although SWN is not endorsing any other candidates in any other races, two related matters merit attention: 

Board of Education: For the first time in recent memory, Westport has a write-in candidate for Board of Education. This is an unusual development, and we salute Ms. Jill Dillon for offering to serve our town as a member of the Board of Education. 

Four more than 40 years, Save Westport Now has been a voice of non-partisanship in town, recognizing that national party affiliation generally has little to do with a candidate’s ability to solve local issues. As such, we have supported both Democrats and Republicans for the P&Z over the years. This year marks the first time in recent memory that any candidates for local election seem more driven by national political issues than local ones: Specifically, the Republican candidates for BOE seem to us to be far outside the norm of sensible, locally oriented governance we’ve come to expect of individuals nominated by town Democrats and Republicans. It’s for that reason that we salute Ms. Jill Dillon’s write-in candidacy for Board of Education, without which there would be no moderate option for filling the third open seat on the BOE. 

The RTM: We are gravely concerned by the recent vote by 29 members of the RTM to interpret the Town Charter as granting their Moderator the unilateral right to decide which public petitions will be heard. The RTM’s decision runs counter to the plain language of the Town Charter and violates one of the fundamental principles of a “Representative Town Meeting” form of government: namely, to provide broad access for public participation in a democratic process. We would strongly encourage all Westport residents to check their RTM members’ voting records and/or positions on this issue before heading to the polls. 

Please. Get out and vote!

Sincerely, Save Westport Now