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Wednesday, February 21 News

Letters to the Editor: Endorsing Suggs, Support for Kane...

To the Editor:

It’s my pleasure to endorse John F. Suggs as an independent candidate for First Selectman.

In his decade of service as an elected member of Westport’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM), John has gained a deep understanding of the challenges we face as a town and has developed thoughtful and innovative ways to address a number of pressing issues. He’s consistently advocated for school funding, worked with colleagues to address affordable housing proposals, and, most recently, led the initiative to preserve our iconic Cribari Bridge.

John is a true scholar, who takes the time to educate himself fully on every subject before forming an opinion on it. For most of his adult life, he has been a consistent advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves. He is passionate about the town he loves, and he is always seeking ways to preserve the town’s unique character as it grows.

I have two young children, and my top priorities are maintaining our excellent school system, addressing traffic congestion, and assuring that Westport remains attractive to local businesses. As John has clearly demonstrated with his weekly policy papers (including his most recent one on affordable housing), he understands the town’s issues, and has applied creative thinking to address them.

Many people feel uncomfortable by the current partisan rhetoric and are looking for someone who is plain-spoken and not beholden to special interests or party politics. This November, for a change, let’s vote for the person and not the party. Let’s elect John F. Suggs, as our independent voice.

Greg Kraut


Editor’s note: Greg Kraut is a candidate for the RTM, District 5.

To the Editor:

I wholeheartedly support Melissa Kane for First Selectman. A long time Westport resident and active member of our community, Melissa exhibits an effervescent passion for Westport and its future. She has been connected to the town since childhood when her family spent summers here. She is a member of the RTM and served as the chair of the Downtown Steering Committee and is currently the Co-Chair of the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee. She has also served on the boards of the Westport Library and of the Green Village Initiative. Melissa understands the needs of our community, she has the ability to envision its prosperous future and the drive and leadership skills to take us there.

Melissa will be an effective leader for all Westporters. She has an uncanny ability to engage absolutely everyone. She connects with people immediately with her smile, her poise, and her genuine interest in whomever she is speaking to. Melissa is truly open to everyone.

And Melissa is passionate. This passion was best on display in the wake of the presidential election. Melissa immediately acted and rallied everyone around her to the cause of protecting our democracy. As one of the organizers of the Women’s March CT Melissa led us to raise our voices in Washington.

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Melissa Kane is the right leader for Westport now.

Candice Savin


To the Editor:

As the campaign for First Selectman heats up, I wish I could sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk with each and every Westport resident and discuss why John F. Suggs, the Independent Candidate, is the right person for the job.

I wouldn’t dwell on the issues. Suggs’ “Common Sense Solutions” platform speaks for itself (visit his website suggs.org). His ideas are wise, logical, and well thought out. Rather, I would talk about heart. I would tell my fellow residents about the kind of guy John is, and always has been. He is straightforward and easy to talk to and stands up for what is right and good. He’s a supporter of women’s rights. He took his 14-year-old daughter Rachel to the historic Woman’s March on Washington last January 21st. (Or as he happily described it to all of us back in Westport afterwards: “It was Rachel and me and 1.2 million of our closest friends.”) He has been a strong supporter and proponent of anti-bullying programs like Kool2BKind (SkateMovement.org) long before bullying became a “hot topic.” As a life-long supporter of human rights issues, he was the founding Executive Director of Los Angeles’ Homeless Coalition. He also established a school for homeless children, leading to the first conference in the country on educating homeless children.

John has a wealth of experience from his 10 years serving on the Westport’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM) for his District. His track record and voting history demonstrate that he is steadfast in his beliefs and tenacious. He will nurture a compassionate culture in Westport, rise above the partisan bickering and finger-pointing, prioritize education, and preserve the history and charm of our town. John is a grounded, honest, genuine, gem of a guy—Westport would be lucky to have him lead the way. I urge you to vote for John F. Suggs for First Selectman in November!

Jill Johnson Mann


To the Editor:

I am writing to urge members of Westport’s District 3 to vote Lyn Hogan for RTM. Lyn and I first met at the YMCA in 2003 when she was just beginning the process of adopting her daughter Anna from China. She approached me asking advice when she realized I too had adopted my daughter from China. We instantly bonded and became fast friends as did our daughters when Lyn and her husband brought Anna home from China in 2006.

I cannot think of a better person to elect to town office than Lyn. Ever since I have known her, Lyn has been committed to her children, their schools and the wonderful town in which we live. Both our daughters attended Kings Highway Elementary School together and are now at Coleytown Middle School and our sons both attend Staples High School and are both part of Staples soccer team.

Lyn brings a wealth of knowledge to the job of RTM. In her professional life, she has worked for the Clinton White House Domestic Policy Council, then-Senator Edward Kennedy’s Education Committee, and for Yale University’s Edward Zigler Center in Child Development & Social Policy. But I think more impressive is her work early on as a drop-out prevention counselor in the New York City public schools and as a family preservation social worker in the Red Hook Housing Projects in Brooklyn. Coupled with her local volunteer work over the years for the PTA, her church, and now the RTM, I can’t think of anyone better for the job.

Please join me in voting for Lyn Hogan for District 3 RTM.

Michelle Didner


To the Editor:

Westport needs Jennifer Johnson on the Planning and Zoning Commission. For the past few years, our community has lost opportunities, failed to properly plan for its future, and has left development to the vagaries of the market place. It is critical that voters change the makeup of the P&Z to include Jennifer. She will bring to it a common sense, well thought out perspective that has been sorely missing. I strongly urge your readers to support the Coalition for Westport’s candidate, Jennifer Johnson.

Ken Bernhard


To the Editor:

There are a lot of new RTM candidates on the ballot this November. But, if you live in District 9, there’s one choice easy to make: vote for Lauren Soloff.

Lauren epitomizes what makes Westport volunteers a real asset to our community. She’s served on the elementary school PTA and the board of her synagogue and is currently Vice Chair of Homes with Hope.

She’s also a businesswoman, running a manufacturing business, so she has the experience to analyze problems and make good decisions. Lastly, she’s a lawyer with expertise in labor and employment law, a skill set we could really use on the RTM.

Most importantly, Lauren has demonstrated true commitment to the task at hand. She will do her homework on the RTM, listen to others’ point of view, and forge solutions through her collaborative style.

We could really use Lauren on the RTM. Please vote for her on November 7.

Jonathan Steinberg


To the Editor:

As a mother of two school-aged children, I am deeply concerned about Connecticut’s budget crisis and how this may affect Westport’s schools and property values in the future. I believe now is the time to elect the most qualified, experienced candidates to lead Westport forward. There is only one team running for Board of Selectman who has the proven skills and a plan to deal with the challenges we face — Jim Marpe and Jen Tooker.

I have known both Jim and Jen for several years, and I have been continually impressed with their dedication to our community, their positive, non-partisan style of governing, and their record of delivering results for our Town. Both Jim and Jen have served on Westport’s Board of Education and are strong supporters of the schools.

As Westport’s successful first selectman for the past four years, Jim Marpe has worked closely with Jen Tooker on the Board of Finance to strengthen Westport’s fiscal outlook, hold property tax rates flat, and safeguard the quality of our schools and town services. There are simply no other candidates in the race that even come close to matching the experience, skills and track record of Jim Marpe and Jen Tooker.

With so much at stake for our town, we simply cannot afford to gamble on inexperienced, unproven candidates. We must re-elect Jim Marpe and elect Jen Tooker to the Board of Selectmen and ensure Westport stays strong for the future.

Karen Hess


To the Editor:

I am writing to convey my support for Rob Simmelkjaer as Westport’s next second selectman. I have known Rob for many years both professionally and personally. Having worked through some complex and delicate negotiations with him at work, I can attest not only to his tenacity but also his intelligence and sense of fairness. In the end, our business dealings always led to a mutually beneficial result. Rob’s ability to see two sides of an issue and craft solutions for all the involved parties will serve Rob well as Second Selectmen.

I have also gotten to know Rob personally and have spent time with his family. Rob has two children in the Westport schools and not suprisingly he is committed to funding our schools and maintaing the educational excellence that Westport residents expect. Equally important, Rob has shown a committment to fighting intolerance and hate through his involvement with the Anti-Defamation League. In these divisive times, his type of measured leadership will serve Westport well.

I should note that Rob’s running mate for first selectman, Melissa Kane, and her family, are close personal friends of mine and I think the world of Melissa. She is smart, caring and the right type of person to lead Westport in these tumultuous times.

Spencer Brown


To the Editor:

I support the Coalition for Westport and urge all to vote for its candidate Jennifer Johnson. She will bring fresh, dynamic thinking to the Planning & Zoning Commission, which is sorely needed. Westport needs a commission that can take matters into its own hands without waiting to be nudged into action.

Jennifer Johnson is the only choice for the future of Westport. She has expertise on transportation planning and will provide solutions for our traffic choked streets. She is committed to upgrading aging infrastructure. She can balance new ideas with respect for Westport’s history. She will be a positive influence on a commission which has created a hostile and negative environment for applicants.

Vote for Jennifer Johnson — the Coalition for Westport line

Michael A. Nayor


To the Editor:

My family moved to Westport in 1963. In the 54 years since then, Westport has had more than a dozen first selectmen, three of them women.

The most successful of these have shared three qualities, activism, involvement and future orientation. Melissa Kane is defined by these qualities. This is one reason among many others that I will vote for Melissa Kane in November.

Melissa has been actively involved in community and town affairs. She has served on the boards of the Westport Library, the Green Village Initiative and A Child’s Place. She is a member of the RTM. As chair of the Downtown Steering Committee, Melissa has shepherded the creation of the Downtown Master Plan for Westport.

Melissa recognizes the need for carefully formulated goals for Westport’s future. She has pledged to work to: Ensure seniors can remain in the community they helped build: Support continued excellence in our schools: Preserve & improve beaches and parks: Fix traffic problems & dangerous intersections: Better manage town services, and improve communications so our governmental process is more user friendly.

Please go to the polls on Nov. 7 and vote Row A for Melissa Kane for first selectwoman, Rob Simmelkjaer for second selectman and the entire Democratic team.

Martha Aasen


To the Editor:

I left Westport for a couple of years for Manhattan. I realized that the big city was not for me.

Should I go back to Westport, or maybe New York or New Jersey? So many things didn’t add up elsewhere. Property taxes were so high while the quality of living was not great. I decided to come back to Westport. Wow, Westport, is better than ever, and the costs are so advantageous. Marpe knows how to give the citizens of Westport a great value for their money. Amazing

For most Westporters, their home is their most valuable investment. In the midst of poor financial management within our state government, Westport has been able to maintain a triple AAA financial rating. Taxes have stayed flat for four years; our Grand List has increased and Westport’s long-term debt has been reduced by 25 percent. All this has occurred while we have provided increased budget funds to our schools.

This has not happened by accident. It is the direct result of the strong management skills, daily hard work, focus and fiscal conservatism of the first selectman. There are very few, if any, towns that can match Westport’s record of excellence over the last four years.

Jim Marpe goes about trying to make the town better every day. He does this in a manner that is consensus oriented, efficient with little partisan divisiveness. Westport has been run so well run that I am afraid many citizens assume anyone could do it.

This is far from true, things could quickly turn south without Marpe. Why risk switching from an experienced successful management team to novices with no government management experience? Town management should not be a partisan issue, but rather one of competency. Protect your investment. Vote your self-interest. Vote for Marpe/Tooker.

Nitzy Cohen


To the Editor:

I am writing to endorse Velma Heller for RTM District 9. I had the pleasure of serving with Velma for several years on the RTM including on multiple committees. Velma is a model of what one looks for in an elected official: thorough in her fact finding, inclusive in her deliberations and civil in discussion.

The RTM has been served with distinction for many years by Velma in particular in her roles as committee chair, deputy moderator and now, moderator of our town’s legislative body. I strongly urge those in District 9 to return Velma for another term to the RTM.

Bob Galan


To the Editor:

I am so grateful that Andrea Moore and Vik Muktavaram are offering their time and talent to Westport’s Board of Finance. Westport would be lucky to have these two experienced, practical, and community-minded people represent our interests. I’ve known Andrea for more than 30 years, since our days at Staples High School. She is smart and kind and has both the financial and leadership skills to keep Westport strong.

Vik’s experiences as a finance executive, education advocate and local volunteer also speak to his dedication and results. The two as a team offer even more benefit. Westport has the choice to invest in our future quality of life and fiscal security by electing Andrea Moore and Vik Muktavaram to Westport’s Board of Finance this November. I hope we all act on that opportunity!

Suzanne Tager


To the Editor:

There is simply no comparison between Jennifer Johnson and all the other candidates for P&Z in terms of expertise, experience and demonstrated commitment. Westport is fortunate have such a candidate. She will be a breath if fresh air on the commission.

Larry Weisman