Booted from the Nov. 5 ballot last week over a technicality, Save Westport Now (SWN) will now have ballot access on Election Day, a Stamford Superior Court judge ruled today. Judge Kenneth B. Povodator ordered Westport Town Clerk Patricia Strauss to give SWN endorsed and nominated candidates for the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z)—Democrats Andra Vebell, David Lessing and Alan Hodge—a SWN place on the ballot in addition to their names on Democratic line. The move drew praise from Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. “Judge Povodator’s decision is good for the voters of Westport,” Merrill said in a statement. “It is always in the best interest of voters to have choices on the ballot, and I am relieved the judge resolved this issue.” Founded in the 1980s to save Gorham Island from development, a bid that failed, SWN is a third party, environmental and preservation advocacy group. It has typically endorsed and nominated Democratic candidates for the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z), although last election it endorsed Republicans.
Westport Town Attorney Ira Bloom said last week the SWN candidates were bumped due to a technicality of a 2011 state law “which made some technical changes to the certification filing process for third party candidates.”
Specifically, it required the candidates to sign the forms due at the Town Clerk’s Office by Sept. 4. They did not. The matter, as it did in a number of other towns throughout Connecticut, came to the attention of the Secretary of the State’s office, and based on the law, it was the opinion of that office that the candidates not be on the ballot, according to Bloom.
“It was never the intention of my office or any town clerk to keep candidates from this minor party or others off the ballot this November,” Merrill said. “As Judge Povodator aptly put it in court today, the legal requirement for a candidate to sign the endorsement paperwork for a minor party is not a trivial or technical matter.