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Westport Voters Focus on Finances, Growth

WESTPORT, Conn. – Unhappy with the current makeup of the Planning and Zoning Commission, Westport resident Steve Bartie headed out to Saugatuck Elementary School Tuesday afternoon to vote for the candidates he says will bring about change.

"I voted Republican," said Bartie, adding he voted for all four of the Republican Planning and Zoning candidates. "We haven't been represented by the Democratic majority, so we need to try something new. There needs to be change."

For Bartie, who lives in District One, the Planning and Zoning Commission race is a crucial one. He said preserving the town's character, and preventing it from becoming a "mall without a roof" is a top issue for him.

By voting for Catherine Walsh, Al Gratrix, Chip Stephens and Jack Whittle, Bartie said he hopes to see the "pendulum return to the middle, where common sense prevails."

Unlike Bartie, the Board of Finance race was what brought resident Linda Durakis to the polls.

"The Board of Finance holds probably more power than all other boards, and it's important that money is planned for and spent strategically," she said.

As a mom, Durakis said the Board of Education race is another she is most interested in. "I don't think people realize how important our educational system is in terms of home values," she added.

A registered Democrat, Durakis said she voted Democrat across the ballot.

Although there are no national races on the ballot, moderator Vera Shanov said voter turnout had been steady throughout the morning and afternoon.

As of 3 p.m., Marla Cowden, Democratic Registrar of Voters, said 3,976 votes have been cast, including absentee ballots, out of the town's 17,172 registered voters. Cowden projects total voter turnout to be between 34 and 36 percent.

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