Selectman Candidates Debate at Staples

On the evening of Oct. 24, around a hundred students, teachers and local politicians shuffled into the cafeteria to watch the debate for the position of first selectman. The candidates were heavily focused on the future of Westport and the students who would one day inhabit it.

“Seventeen years ago, Main St. was more beautiful than it is today,” Republican Avi Kaner said. “The town’s assets are deteriorating.”

Democratic candidate Helen Garten also compared the Main Street of today to the one she grew up in, citing fresh, young companies and the success of arcades and movie theatres in the area. Meanwhile, Republican Jim Marpe discussed opening up access to the whole town through public transit and improving traffic flow.

The Republican party has set its sights on the improvement of the town since the Democrats have held the selectman position for over eight years. The candidates appealed very much to the interests of students. Aside from debating the future of Staples students, the conversation shifted to the involvement of students in local government. Marpe suggested that students should be represented further.

“As first selectman, I would like to establish a role for a student representative on the table,” he said. “I think a number of boards would benefit from it, and it would spice things up.”

Garten agreed with this emphasis, calling the debate “a great start” to the students’ voice in the town which she hopes to continue.

Regardless of the winner, both parties emphasized that every citizen should cast his or her vote as this could be an important election to the livelihood of everyone.

“A local election like determines our taxes, how our schools are funded and even our roads,” Democratic Town Committee chair Jim Ezzes said. “A local election like this can be more important than a federal one.”