This is a two-part series in preparation for the election. To read our conversation with the Republican Party candidates, click here.
Last week, we featured our interview with the Republican candidates for First Selectman and Selectman, and this week, we’re sharing our conversation with the Democrats! With Election Day less than two weeks away (on Tuesday Nov. 5), we’re hoping these pieces will help you learn about this important race in Greenwich. Below, candidate for First Selectman Jill Oberlander and candidate for Selectman Sandy Litvak share their priorities, their backgrounds and more.
Can you please tell me a bit about your history in Greenwich, including your family and background.
Jill: I live in the Belle Haven area with my husband, Larry Penn, and our three children: a son, Alex, age 17; and two daughters, Samantha, age 15, and Danielle, age 13. We also have a dog, a cavapoo named Obie. Obie is 51/2.
Sandy: Joanna and I live in mid- country, having lived for several years in the back country and we are now empty nesters. Our three boys, Chris (23), Jamie and Tyler (20) are all off to school. Chris is in his last year at Georgetown Law School and Jamie and Tyler are juniors, at U.S.C. and the University of Chicago, respectively. Being empty nesters is hard, as we miss the fun and excitement of having them around every day but it is, of course, something we all go through.
What do you love most about living in this area?
Jill: This is a community that cares about its residents, its natural resources, its schools, and its sense of community. Greenwich is filled with interesting and engaged residents who dedicate countless hours and dollars to make our Town better. We also have access to wonderful natural resources.
Sandy: It is hard for me to isolate particular things about Greenwich which I love because the truth is that it is the whole ambience of the town. I love the open fields, the waterfront and the sense of community that the town engenders
Why did you decide to run for First Selectman? Was there an “aha” moment?
Jill: I love our Town and our residents, and I care about our future. I believe government is the most direct way to improve other people’s lives. With over 20 years of law and government experience, I believe I have the right combination of knowledge, skills and expertise to address the challenges we face and to be able to move our community forward.
What are the Top 3 things you would like to accomplish?
Jill: I am running as a team with Sandy Litvack and we are focusing on Greenwich’s economy, education system and the environment (the three Es). We have specific plans in each category that will: improve Greenwich’s economic climate and create a more vibrant town; support needed investment in our public school infrastructure; and develop an environmental sustainability plan that will identify implementable goals and metrics. If we identify plans for economic development, to clean-up the Town’s contaminated fields, and to address long-standing Town issues like parking, traffic and safe streets, we will be successful.
Sandy: Jill and I have focused on the three Es—education, the economy and environment—but given my background, as set forth below, I would probably focus most on the economic issues and bring my experience at Disney and advising other companies to bear in helping the town establish and implement a real economic development program. I also want to attack the issue of traffic in Greenwich since I believe it is a major issue for all our residents.
Can you describe your professional background and any previous political service?
Jill: I received my B.A. from Cornell University and my J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. I worked in law and government in New York City, in law firms, at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and at the Alliance for Downtown New York, the business improvement district instrumental in revitalizing lower Manhattan after 9/11. I have held elective office in Greenwich for 10 years: 6 years on the Representative Town Meeting; and 4 years on the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET). I am the first Democratic Chair of the BET and I was unanimously elected by my peers.
Sandy: Professionally, as you may know, I am a lawyer and I have practiced as a trial lawyer in major New York law firms for years, basically representing large companies and corporate officers. I was Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice and I also held high level positions at The Walt Disney Company, eventually being Vice Chairman of the Board. I never sought or held a political office until 2017 when I ran for First Selectman. While I did not win that seat, I did garner enough votes to be a Selectman, which I currently am.
Anything else you want people to know about you?
Jill: I served as a trustee of a major senior care company in New York for 10 years and I know that providing care and services to our most vulnerable populations is an essential government service. Locally, I served on the board of the Greenwich League of Women Voters, as a participant on the United Way Community Planning Council, and as a trustee and Secretary of the Belle Haven Land Owners Association. Sandy and I will call on our many years of government, legal and executive experience to find solutions to the issues we have been discussing in Town for many years.
Sandy: Lastly, I think the one thing I would add for people to know/consider is that I believe my background and track record as a leader and a person who “gets things done” is unique. No one else running for office has the combination of business, legal, federal and local experience that I bring to bear. Together with Jill, who has decades of pertinent experience in municipal government, we offer what I believe to be a team that will address the issues and move Greenwich forward in an impactful way.