Two new candidates enter Weston election

Peter McGinnis and Effie Thieme are running as petitioning candidates for Weston's Board of Finance.

Peter McGinnis and Effie Thieme are running as petitioning candidates for Weston’s Board of Finance.

It will be a crowded ballot in November for the Board of Finance in Weston.

Effie Thieme (pronounced Team-A) and Peter McGinnis, both unaffiliated voters, have announced they are running as petitioning candidates for the finance board.

The candidates submitted a petition to Weston Town Clerk Donna Anastasia on Monday in order to be added to the ballot. The town clerk verified that the petition had 28 valid signatures, the number required to qualify for the petitioning candidate line.

With Thieme and McGinnis in the mix, Weston’s municipal ballot will now have seven candidates for the finance board, which includes incumbent chairman Steve Ezzes, the lone Democrat on the ballot. Republicans are running incumbents Gerald Sargent and Bob Ferguson as well as newcomers Bob Machson and Rone Baldwin.

Weston voters will be instructed to vote for any four of the seven finance board candidates.

Current finance board member and unaffiliated voter, Melissa Koller, is the campaign manager for Thieme and McGinnis. Their campaign treasurer is Leona Peiffer, a Democrat.

Both Thieme (38), and McGinnis (49) are originally from Hamden.

Thieme is the great niece of former Weston Schools Superintendent Tom Aquila. She has a law degree from George Washington University and is a former litigator. She also has a masters in teaching from Sacred Heart University, and is a part-time substitute teacher. She has four children and is married to Lukasz Thieme.

Peter McGinnis is a director with Equifax and leads the company’s capital markets group. He graduated from Colgate University with a degree in political science and has an MBA from Fordham’s Gabelli School. He is married to Melissa Chesman. The couple has three children.

Why?

Koller said there are a number of reasons why she encouraged Thieme and McGinnis to run for the finance board.

“Both are parents with school-aged children and since the school budget makes up 80% of Weston’s total budget, there should be more representation on the finance board by Weston parents with school-aged children,” said Koller.

Koller said the majority of candidates running for the finance board have grown children. Only one, Steve Ezzes, has a young child, a three-year-old, she said.

Thieme and McGinnis will offer good representation of the town, Koller said.

Koller also said it was also good for unaffiliated voters to get the opportunity to run for public office. Both Democrats and Republicans are running candidates only affiliated with their parties.

The upshot, Koller, said, is that a “lot of good people are closed out of running for office.”

In fact, there are currently slightly more unaffiliated voters in Weston than Democrats or Republicans.

As of July 18, the registrars of voters lists a total of 6,440 registered voters in Weston. There are 2,295 unaffiliated voters (no party declared), 2,287 Democrats, 1,777 Republicans, and 81 registered as other (such as The Green Party).

“With so many unaffiliated voters in Weston, it’s time their voices were heard,” Koller said.

While gathering signatures for the petition at Peter’s Market last week, Koller said there was overwhelming support for the unaffiliated candidates.

“For the most part, people were happy that it might not be politics as usual on the ballot in November,” Koller said.

The required number of signatures on the petition, 28, is based on the total number of votes for finance board in the last election times 1%. In 2015, Bob Ferguson (R) and Sarah Schlechter (D) ran to fill a vacancy on the board. Ferguson got 1483 votes, Schlechter got 1217 votes. The 28 required votes represents1% of the total vote.

Koller, a former Democrat, said she changed her party affiliation in 2015, because she wasn’t satisfied with the party representation on the finance board.

“Political parties do a disservice to the town. For some reason there is an idea that Republicans want to cut the budget and the Democrats want to tax and spend until we’re broke. Neither is the case. I think the Board of Education has done a very good job of taking partisanship out of Weston. But on the finance board there seem to be directives for each party — Republicans must oppose any spending and it doesn’t make sense. If you look at all the Republicans in town, they don’t believe that, but the ones on the finance board do,” she said.

Koller also had some choice words for Weston Democrats. “The Democrats should not ignore every expense. They should be tough on the police station plan (with a multi-million dollar cost estimate) and review what should be spent there. I am not arguing the merits of improving the police station, just arguing that both sides need to look at what taxpayers can spend,” she said.

To learn more about Thieme and McGinnis visit their Facebook page — Families for a Nonpartisan Weston.

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  • BFerguson

    The BOF has been surprisingly (and pleasantly) non-partisan for the few years that I’ve been on the board. Most budgetary votes have been unanimous, with the exception of one that I recall being 6 to 1, with only M. Koller in dissent. That sounds pretty “non-partisan” to me! Those six members of the board, regardless of party affiliation, honestly care about protecting Weston’s financial position, maintaining a strong school system and spending taxpayer dollars wisely. Anyone can claim to be “non-partisan” by changing their party to “unaffiliated” but actions speak louder than campaign rhetoric.

  • NonPartisanMeansNonPartisan

    Wow! I see from Ferguson’s comment exactly what Koller is talking about. Here is a Republican so desperate for a partisan wrangle that he actually accuses an unaffiliated Board member of partisanship for having dared to disagree with him — once! Apparently, Ferguson’s idea of non-partisanship is doing things his way 100% of the time!

    • Melissa Zales Koller

      Dear NPMNP,nnThank you so much for your support. It’s gratifying to see someone stand up the bullying tactics that unfortunately defined the 2015 campaign.nnWith the objective of full transparency, I’m hoping that anyone who comments during our campaign will post under their real names rather than pseudonyms. nFor readers following the comments, knowing the identity of the commentator adds credibility. nAnonymous comments, while protecting privacy, can also be suspect. nnFor the record: Families for a Nonpartisan Weston will ONLY be posting under this title.nOur candidates and campaign committee will be always disclose their full names when posting, and we respectfully request the same of our supporters (as well as those who may disagree with our positions).nnAgain, thank you for your passionate defense.nMelissa Koller

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