As Contentious Muni Election Races Loom in Greenwich, LWV Voter Guides Feature Candidate Bios

The Nov 7 municipal election in Greenwich is days away. Campaign signs are proliferating along sidewalks and traffic circles throughout town.

The League of Women Voters of Greenwich has a voter guide accessible online as a PDF. VotersGuide2017_Web

The guide features candidates for Board of Selectmen, Town Clerk, Board of Estimates and Taxation (BET), Board of Education, Representative Town Meeting (RTM), Tax Collector, Board of Assessment Appeals and Constables.

The League offers aguides for RTM candidates for each of the 12 districts. RTM Guide_D1_LR RTM Guide_D2_LR RTM Guide_D3_LR RTM Guide_D4_LR RTM Guide_D5_LR RTM Guide_D6_LR RTM Guide_D7_LR RTM Guide_D8_LR RTM Guide_D9_LR RTM Guide_D10_LR RTM Guide_D11_LR RTM Guide_D12_LR

Some interesting contests to be determined on Nov 7 include Board of Education, as there are three Republican candidates for two slots: Peter Bernstein, Peter Sherr and Jason Auerbach.

This summer Peter Bernstein took his opponents to court after they allegedly interrupted his efforts to collect signatures to get on the ballot. (Bernstein is an incumbent but was not endorsed by his party).

Peter Bernstein

The judge ruled Mr Auerbach and Mr Sherr were within their rights to free speech, though their attorney repeatedly described their behavior was obnoxious.

There has been much talk among BOE candidates about being “collegial” ever since the summer incidents and court hearings. In the past week both GFP and Greenwich Time published reactions to a court decision involving Mr. Auerbach and his former employer, Wells Fargo.

Jason Auerbach

According to court records, Auerbach’s former supervisor at Wells Fargo, Edward Thomas, and an employee relations consultant, Julie Miller, testified that Auerbach’s behavior had “created and perpetuated an unhealthy work environment.”  They testified that Auerbach was terminated for misconduct. In an email, Mr. Auerbach said he was not terminated for misconduct. The RTC maintains their support.

This week, three of the five BOE candidates withdrew from a debate that was organized by the Greenwich Coalition for Student Health & Achievement, a group that sprung from Start School Later Greenwich. As a result the organizers canceled the debate.

Chris von Keyserling has served 16 terms on the Greenwich RTM.

In the race for Representative town Meeting (RTM),  several districts have more candidates than slots, which is not the norm.

Organizer of a group March On Greenwich, Karen Giannuzzi, said that after the January Women’s March against the Trump agenda in DC, many Greenwich women wanted to continue the momentum.

March On Greenwich reacted publicly to the arrest of RTM district 8 leader Chris von Keysering for Sexual Assault.

Mr. vonKeyserling, who according to his arrest warrant, said to his victim, a 57-year-old woman employed by the town-owned nursing care center The Nathaniel Witherell, “I love this new world. I no longer have to be politically correct,” before pinching her in the groin.

After the March On group was not allowed to read a statement at an RTM meeting, they learned more about the 230 member group, including that there are seldom more candidates than there are slots. Giannuzzi said the women were surprised to learn that many RTM members are over 65 and the group is dominated by men.

von Keyserling, RTM district 8 bio, League of Women Voters of Greenwich

Christopher von Keyserling, RTM district 8 bio, League of Women Voters of Greenwich

Since then the group recruited 40 to 50 candidates for RTM, predominantly women.

In September the town clerk Carmella Budkins told GFP, “In all my years, I never remember so many petitions coming in.”

In RTM district 8 in Cos Cob, there are 37 candidates for 26 slots.

Mr. von Keyserling’s bio indicates he has served 16 terms on RTM.

Listing 3 issues facing Greenwich today, von Keyserling wrote, “provision of public debate without the fanatical bullying and character assassination of pubic volunteers in the media.”

The People of the State of CT vs Chris Von Keyserling will go to a jury trial, though a date has yet to be set.

Marzullo, Litvack

Drew Marzullo and Sandy Litvack at forum at Round Hill Community House.

In the race for First Selectman, there has been but one debate and it included all four selectmen candidates. Democratic challenger Sandy Litvack focused the importance of developing an economic development plan. Incumbent, Republican, Peter Tesei, vying for an unprecedented sixth term, defended a public relations contract with Lou Hammond Group, partially funded by the town, had been the suggestion of his economic advisory committee. He said a new New Lebanon School and the Byram Pool set to open next year would result in the economic development of the west side of town.

In September selectman Drew Marzullo’s August arrest for shoplifting came to light and his party withdrew their endorsement. On Monday the Democratic team, minus Mr. Marzullo, will hold a forum at town hall to compensate for the limited number of debates this season.

Toner, Tesei

Selectman John Toner (R) and First Selectman Peter Tesei (R) both incumbents, at the selectmen debate at the Selectmen debate on Oct 17, 2017 at Round Hill Community House. Photo: Leslie Yager

On Tuesday, the two candidates for tax collector, Tod Laudonia and Howard Richman sparred in the Cone Room. 

Laudonia and Richman talked about efficiencies in the tax collector office. Laudonia said because of partisan politics his department’s salary budget had been slashed and he’d been forced to lay off two employees. He said the BET mistook cost cutting for efficiency. Richman said that this summer checks weren’t deposited for five weeks, costing the town $70,000 or $80,000 in interest.

WGCH Live Debates added: Oct 30 and 31

On Monday, Tony Savino from WGCH 1490 AM announced that the candidates for Selectmen – Drew Marzullo and John Toner – will debate live on the air next Monday October 30th at 9:00 am.

Also,  candidates for First Selectman – Peter Tesei and Sandy Litvack – will debate live on air on Tuesday October 31 at 8:30 am.

See also:

Greenwich BOE Candidates Hash Out Racial Balance, Achievement Gap, Redistricting and Equity during Oft Testy Debate on the West Side of Town

Greenwich Campaign Update: Everyone’s Talking; Some Are Clamming up

Greenwich Tax Collector Candidates Laudonia and Richman Face Off in Testy Debate

Selectmen Debate: Tesei and Litvack Scuffle over Greenwich’s Economic Development

Following Marzullo Statement at Selectmen Meeting, DTC Withdraws Support

Questions Arise over BOE Candidate Jason Auerbach’s Collegial Nature

March On Greenwich is Storming the Greenwich RTM Ballot 

Petitioner Pushes Bounds of Freedom of Speech at Tod’s Point

Greenwich RTC Issues Statement Following SNAFU with Competing Petitions

BOE Incumbent, Bernstein Pounds Pavement with Petition to Run for 2nd Term

In Dueling Petition SNAFU, Defendants’ Attorney Argues Behavior was Obnoxious but Not Illegal

“Obnoxious” Behavior of Charter Change Petitioners Deemed Free Speech; Judge Rejects Bernstein’s Extension Request