Incumbent Town supervisor Dan Connell shakes hands with first-time candidate Jim Carroll at the Meet the Candidates Night at the Westport Town Hall, Oct. 17.
Candidates for the four open seats in the upcoming election put themselves and their political ambitions on the table for Westport’s Meet the Candidates Night Oct. 17.
Open positions in the town government include two council seats, town justice and town supervisor.
Michael “Ike” Tyler is running unopposed for town justice.
For town council, incumbent members Tim Sherman and Russ Paquette were joined by candidates Gerry Goulet and Steven Viens.
For Supervisor, incumbent Dan Connell will be running to serve his eighth term in the position, while newcomer Jim Carroll is running against him.
The event was hosted by the League of Women Voters, who monitored the dialogue. Each candidate was given the opportunity to present an opening statement, answer audience questions, ask their opponents a question and present a closing statement.
Sherman opened first saying he has enjoyed his time serving in the office and found his work both, “interesting and rewarding.”
“Part of the job is trying to solve some of the issues and look ahead,” Sherman said. He noted as a councilman, one of the challenges the board faces is working on is the upcoming budget.
“I would ask that you think of me next month,” Sherman said.
A first time candidate for the town council, Viens said he hopes his experience working for the county highway department will make him a successful member of the team when understanding mechanical issues with the highway department.
“I feel it’s time to get involved,” Viens said. “Westport needs to grow, be revitalized and I’m just willing to help.”
Incumbent candidate Russ Paquette began his introduction speech under the title of the man whose, “lived in Westport longer than anyone on the face of the Earth.
“I know this town inside and out and I still think I have something to offer.”
He noted his work on numerous boards and listening to needs of the community and doing the, “little things that make people happy,” is part of the job.
“I have never missed a meeting and if I do you have a right to view the body, I’ve never missed one in five years,” he said.
Goulet said as someone who formerly worked for Frontier Town in Newcomb he can see the appeal in drawing attention from visitors.
“I want to work with the needs of the community and bring new blood, I’ve been to some of the meetings over the years and I’m looking for people’s support,” Goulet said.
Looking to bring jobs into the area, Goulet said the issue is more a state wide problem than a local one.
“Throughout New York state the businesses move south and the people go where the jobs are,” Goulet said.
Incumbent supervisor Dan Connell discussed his 16 years of service to the town as supervisor and said through the years he and his council have worked well together by putting politics aside and looking at what’s best for the town.
“No one accomplishes anything on their own,” Connell said.
Looking back through the years, he said the town of Westport is currently at it’s best fiscal state and he only sees room for improvement.
During his time as supervisor, Connell noted he has handled difficult financial planning and maintained the best interest of the town as best he could.
In response, Carroll noted that his many years on the Westport school board have prepared him to handle difficult financial planning as well as making tough decisions for the benefit of the taxpayers and the school community.
Carroll said one of the one of the biggest ideas would be introducing jobs to the area and to encourage telecommuting as a way to bringing people to live and invest in the community.
“I am a single guy, I run an internet based business, I could live anywhere but I choose to live here,” Carroll said.
Connell addressed concerns he had heard around town that he was not healthy enough to maintain his office. He told the audience members how he had contracted a virus that caused his auto immune system to interact with itself and eventually caused a blockage to the memory cells. He said it is scary to say there are weeks at a time that he has no memory of.
“It’s utterly untrue, I do go home and take a nap at lunch, but I remain capable of holding this office,” Connell said.
More information about each candidate as well as a sample ballot can be found at Vote411.org.