Weston is once again fortunate to have an abundance of qualified candidates willing and able to serve the town on its various boards and commissions.
These are the people who will shape Weston over the course of the next two years, making tough decisions about money, education, safety and security, and available services. They will make decisions that affect what people can do on their property and what the town will do with its publicly owned land and facilities. They will continue to shape the future of Weston’s economic well-being, as well as the quality of its children’s education and life experience.
The caliber of the candidates makes it difficult to choose the right ones in races that are contested in the election being held at Weston Middle School Tuesday, Nov. 5. After weighing vast amounts of information and much unbiased observation, The Forum endorses the following candidates.
For 14 candidates, winning the election is a done deal, as the “races” for their seats are uncontested. Many of them are incumbents who have already proven they can get the job done. Those stepping up are well qualified for the posts they seek; all deserve to have votes cast for them as a show of support.
The top of the ticket is one of those uncontested races, with all three selectmen returning for another two-year term on the board. First Selectman Gayle Weinstein has worked well with her fellow Democrat, Selectman David Muller, and Republican Selectman Dennis Tracey. The current and future Board of Selectmen has worked together in a decidedly nonpartisan and productive manner, steadfastly leading the town through natural and tragically man-made disasters, economic upheaval, and decisions on town properties, policies, and government. The town is lucky to have this board returning intact for another two years.
On the Board of Assessment Appeals, the terms of both Republican Ryan Cornell and Democrat Marina Coprio are expiring; while voters can choose only one of them, both are seasoned and knowledgeable incumbents. Thankfully, both will regain their seats.
The same holds true on the Zoning Board of Appeals, where veteran members Frederick “Nick” Noyes, a Republican, and MacLeod “Cleody” Snaith, a Democrat are running unopposed — although voters can, and should, vote for both of them. Voters may also vote for both incumbent Republican John Moran and newcomer Don Scarborough, a Democrat, who are running uncontested as ZBA alternates.
Republican James Carlon was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Planning and Zoning Commission and is now running uncontested to fill that seat for the two remaining years of the term.
Four candidates are guaranteed seats on the Police Commission, which has its work cut out for it over the next several years, overseeing the expansion of the police force, construction of a new police station, and continuing security concerns, particularly in the schools. Three are incumbents: Democrat Jeff Eglash lends his law enforcement expertise to the commission, and Democrat Susan Moch her legal acumen. Longtime member Republican Peter Ottomano ensures a continuity of institutional knowledge. They will be joined this year by Republican Woody Bliss — new to the commission but certainly not to Weston government. His hallmark willingness to work cooperatively will be an asset to the commission.
Republican Hillary Koyner was an alternate on the Board of Assessment Appeals before recently being named to fill a vacancy on the board. Her Democratic challenger, Rob Nordlinger, has the qualifications to serve, but Ms. Koyner’s experience on the board and commitment to serving as an intermediary between the taxpayer and the assessor in a nonpartisan manner make her the best choice.
Judge of probate
Weston voters will join Westport voters in choosing between two candidates who are looking to fill a vacancy for the regional judge of probate post. Democrat Kieran Costello is a college professor of probate law and an actively practicing attorney specializing in it for two decades. His pro bono and volunteer work and the compassion he has shown throughout his career, combined with his knowledge and experience, give him a slight edge over the nonetheless impressively credentialed Republican candidate, Lisa Wexler.
Voters will have to choose three people from a pool of four candidates for open seats on the Planning and Zoning Commission. P&Z incumbent Republican Britta Lerner, always a voice of reason, is the standout choice. Incumbent Democrat Sally Korsh has not served long (she was appointed to fill a vacancy), but has served well, contributing her legal and land use expertise, and Republican Tom Failla, having served for years on the Conservation Commission and as a town representative to SWRPA, will add his considerable land use knowledge to the commission. Their talents will be an asset to the complex workings of this commission and give these candidates the slight edge over Democrat Howard Aibel.
Board of Education
Three seats are up for grabs on the school board. Democratic incumbent Denise Harvey is an easy choice, as her calm demeanor and legal expertise have been invaluable during her last four years on the board. Democrat Sara Spaulding has served for a few months, filling a vacancy, and has proven herself to be attentive, responsive, and someone who works well as a liaison between the community and the school administration. As the board looks ahead to many more fiscal, educational, security, and facilities challenges, Republican Elise Major, a former PTO president in two schools and an active volunteer, will combine a fresh perspective on the board with her extensive community experience. Republican newcomer Christopher Moore’s focus on finding innovative ways for the district — and taxpayers — to save money is commendable, but his message lacks a clear commitment to putting Weston’s children first.
Board of Finance
If changes to the town charter pass next year, this will mark the last time finance board members are elected to a six-year term. Voters should opt for experience in making this most important choice. Incumbents Patty Kopas, a Republican, and Melissa Koller, a Democrat, are often on opposite sides of a decision, but both bring a passion, expertise, and unique viewpoints that give this board a needed balance. They have been valuable contributors and always have the best interests of all Westonites in mind. The same may be said for Democrat Richard Bochinski. He was recently named to fill a vacancy, but he has served on the finance board in the past — as well as on the school board, the ethics board, the Charter Revision Commission, and the Board of Selectmen. The institutional knowledge of these three candidates and their tested ability to serve the town with distinction outweigh the considerable qualifications Democratic candidate Allan Grauberd certainly possesses.
Polls are open at Weston Middle School in the gym (enter through the back of the building) from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 5.