WestportJournal.com Asked the Candidates for First Selectperson a Few Preliminary Questions …

Aug 2, 2021 | Government, Politics | 1 comment

Democrat Jonathan Steinberg

By comparison, why specifically are you a better candidate? 

I’m a decisive leader with a proven track record, both in Hartford and in my years on Westport’s RTM, where I served as Deputy Moderator. As Chair of the Public Health Committee, I was intimately involved in the State’s pandemic response, and I’ve led the fight on critical healthcare and energy legislation.  As a leader of the House Democrats Moderates Caucus, I played a central role in working across the aisle to establish a bipartisan budget, which led to the critical financial controls, improving the State’s fiscal position.

I’ve developed invaluable relationships with municipal and business leaders across the state, as well as those in state government, and can draw on their expertise. I’m not afraid of taking on tough issues, regardless of the political costs, to do the right thing.

I’ll bring this open, engaging approach to Westport so we can take advantage of longstanding opportunities to make Westport better than ever. So, in summary, I bring Westport an assertive voice, and a record of consensus-building and getting things done.

In this day of intense political rifts at the national level, how significant is your party affiliation for Westport and how does it reflect on this role as First Selectperson?

I’m proud to be a Democrat because our party reflects the best of Westport’s values and is dedicated to doing the right thing. But I also have collaborated successfully with those across the aisle, as a leading moderate in the Legislature.

Voters in Westport have traditionally not focused solely on party affiliation in selectperson races, but I do wonder whether the events of the past four years have changed that. Let’s just say it’s a lot easier to be a Democrat! I’m confident that, if elected, I can represent ALL Westporters well and I’m committed to listening to everyone’s viewpoint, regardless of affiliation.

For several years now town officials have placed a high value on commercial growth, yet our town is inundated with traffic and construction. Are we even moving in the right direction by encouraging more new business and commercial development, or might it be better for the community to ultimately rely more on our substantial residential tax base and significantly reduce spending instead?

A robust commercial sector in Westport is generally good for all of us. So many local businesses are innovators, which improve people’s lives and create new jobs.

I agree that traffic is one of the biggest issues facing the town and I will focus on solutions as First Selectman, but I wouldn’t say that commercial development is primarily responsible for the current situation. There are many factors involved, which makes it complicated.  Overall, Westport has struck a good balance between our commercial and residential sides, preserving much of our small town character while offering a great ecosystem for businesses to thrive.

Republican Jennifer Tooker

By comparison, why specifically are you a better candidate?

The job of Westport First Selectman is, fundamentally, an executive management job. The First Selectman has 15 direct reports and oversees all Town departments, including about 300 employees. It is essential that our Town’s chief executive is a proven leader. With my extensive management experience in both the private sector and in public service, I believe I am the most qualified person for the job.  

Additionally, my service on the Westport Board of Finance, the Board of Education, the Conservation Commission, as well as my role as the current Second Selectwoman of Westport, makes me uniquely prepared to take on the job of First Selectman.

This is an amazing town where we enjoy an excellent quality of life. For 10 years, I have been a critical part of the leadership team in Westport which has worked tirelessly, especially during the pandemic, to ensure this is a great place to live and work.  Judging by all the new residents who have moved here in the last 18 months, we’ve done a great job. I’m qualified, I’m prepared, and I can’t wait to serve this wonderful town as your next First Selectman. 

In this day of intense political rifts at the national level, how significant is your party affiliation for Westport and how does it reflect on this role as First Selectperson?

Westport voters are very savvy, and they understand that choosing their next First Selectman is about electing the best, most qualified person for the job — not voting for a party label. This is not — and should never be — a partisan position. The First Selectman has a responsibility to lead the entire community by pursuing priorities that are important to all Westporters. Working with our residents and other elected officials, listening to all viewpoints, and finding common ground to advance those priorities, is how things get done in Westport.

The tone is set at the top by the First Selectman.  Having the right temperament to lead in a constructive and thoughtful manner is potentially more important now than ever before.  I am proud of the temperament I have displayed for the last 10 years as an elected official serving this community. Ensuring Westport continues to be the best place to live and work is my focus — there is nothing partisan about that.  

For several years now town officials have placed a high value on commercial growth, yet our town is inundated with traffic and construction. Are we even moving in the right direction by encouraging more new business amd commercial development, or might it be better for the community to ultimately rely more on our substantial residential tax base and significantly reduce spending instead?

Westport has maintained a critically important balance of commercial and residential tax bases that few other municipalities have been able to achieve. This, along with effective, coordinated financial management between the First Selectman and the Board of Finance, has been key to Westport’s strong fiscal position and our ability to deliver world-class schools, town services and recreational amenities for our residents while keeping our mill rate steady. Indeed, without a strong commercial tax base, the burden on residential taxpayers would be unsustainable.   Achieving this balance has been no accident. The Marpe-Tooker Administration has made a focused effort to engage our business community to better understand their needs and goals, along with continuing to invest in our infrastructure to meet the changing demands.  Importantly, our administration will be proactive and flexible in response to the post-pandemic lifestyle changes our residents will make.

1 Comment

  1. Tj

    Hello, more then two candidates for first selectman.

    Tj Elgin here, votewestport.com

    Reply

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