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Monday, September 23, 2013

Save Westport Now Booted from Ballot

By James Lomuscio

For the first time since its inception in the 1980s, Save Westport Now (SWN), an environmental and preservation advocacy group, will not not have a line on the Westport ballot in November due to a filing glitch.

Founded by book publisher and seller Sidney Kramer to save Gorham Island from development, a bid that failed, SWN has typically endorsed and nominated Democratic candidates for the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z), although last election it endorsed Republicans.

This year the Democratic candidates for P&Z—newcomers Andra Vebell, David Lessing and Alan Hodge—will only appear under their party’s heading unless there is a reversal by the Secretary of the State’s Office or a court order.

According to Town Attorney Ira Bloom, it all is because of a technicality due to a 2011 state law “which made some technical changes to the certification filing process for third party candidates.”

“It specifically required signatures of the candidates on the forms which were due at the Town Clerk’s Office by September 4,” Bloom said. “Apparently, through an oversight, those signatures were not provided at that time.”

The matter, as it did in a number of other towns throughout Connecticut, came to the attention of the Secretary of the State’s office, “and consequently, the Secretary of the State’s opinion was that that those candidates could not be on the ballot under the third party,” Bloom said.

“SWN has been fielding a list of candidates in Westport for many, many years, and they understandably want their own line on the ballot,” Bloom said.

At the same time, a new third party, Coalition for Westport CFW), apparently did all of the new diligence and will have its three P&Z candidates on the ballot. 

They are David Press, a former Republican now unaffiliated who served on the P&Z from 2003 to 2011; Denise Torve, a Democrat and former executive director of the Westport Historical Society and First Night, and Glenn Payne, CEO of Switch Energy in Norwalk, who is unaffiliated.

None of the four Republicans is up for reelection on the P&Z, where they hold the majority on the seven-member commission.

According to Michael Nayor, CFW chairman, the new party’s philosophy is quite different from SWN. He has said CFW wants a P&Z “that is proactive in creating a master plan for commercial and residential areas, so that developers can be guided to work within a framework that is optimum for the town.”

Meanwhile, Bloom said the town is “still trying to work this out with the Secretary of the State’s office.”

“They do appear as Democrats, but nevertheless, Save Westport Now wants its own line,” Bloom said, “and the town is working to correct what we feel was an inadvertent oversight, and we will continue to work on it this week.”

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Posted 09/23/13 at 10:00 AM  Permalink



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