The U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn the Constitutional right to abortions has led to political agitation in Westbrook’s Ward 2 City Council race, and candidate endorsements have split City Hall.

Two Democrats, incumbent Victor Chau and challenger Jessica Moninski, seek the three-year seat.

Mayor Michael Foley has endorsed Chau, 49, and five sitting councilors have endorsed Moninski, 46.


Chau is self-described as “pro-choice,” but he didn’t support the council’s Proclamation Supporting Access to Reproductive Healthcare in July. The proclamation passed with Chau as the sole dissenter.

“I don’t think the city should be involved. It’s not a city decision,” Chau said in an interview with the American Journal this week. “It’s not our job.”

Moninski said women’s reproductive rights is a “very important issue” among residents in Ward 2.


“In fact, it was one of the issues that prompted me to run for my ward’s council seat. Back in July after Roe v. Wade was overturned, Victor Chau was the only city councilor that declined to vote in support of the (city’s proclamation),” she said.

Chau “apparently” doesn’t understand the role of local government, Moninski said, and “he’s more concerned about ruffling some feathers than standing up for women when it matters most.”


Chau said he has been maligned by detractors spreading wrongful information about his reason for not supporting the resolution. Some constituents who respected him in the past slammed doors in his face while he was out campaigning, he said. He’s even been called a Republican, he said, and some voters have asked him if he thinks “women are equal to men.”

“It’s tearing my world apart,” Chau said. “It’s been tough.”

Council President Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte, board Vice President David Morse and Councilors Jennifer Munro, Claude Rwaganje and Michael Shaughnessy back challenger Moninski. The five submitted an endorsement letter published Sept. 15 in the American Journal.

“As health care (reproductive rights) rights for all people is an issue that is under attack nationally, both at the federal and local levels, it is vital that all on the council stand united in support of these inalienable rights for all people of Westbrook,” the councilors wrote.


Turcotte said she and Morse decided to write the letter to the editor about a week before it was published.

“I offered each member of the council (except Mr. Chau) an opportunity to join,” Turcotte wrote in an email to the American Journal in response to a question about the letter’s process.

Councilor Gary Rairdon, who voted in favor of the proclamation, did not join the other members of the seven-member council in signing the letter. The other councilors want Chau ousted because of his vote on the resolution, he said.

“It’s an unfortunate event to remove someone based on one vote,” Rairdon told the American Journal.

Rairdon said the council’s letter blindsided Chau, but, “I told him before it hit the press.”

Moninski said she was honored by the councilors’ endorsement.


“These five people lend their time, expertise and perspective for the good of this city,” she said. “For people with such a wide range of talent and experience to think that I have something unique to contribute to this the City Council is humbling. I take their endorsement as a challenge to bring my best forward for Westbrook and its residents.”

Chau has the backing of the mayor, who wrote a letter published in the American Journal Oct. 13 urging residents to vote for Chau.

“I believe his experience is needed to help continue moving Westbrook forward, as he will study issues, listen and bring common-sense solutions,” Foley wrote.

Chau said the City Council should concentrate on the local issues “that are the council’s clear responsibility to steward, such as  keeping our property taxes in check; supporting funding for education; and working closely with our state delegates on issues that impact Westbrook.”

“As individuals, we have a responsibility to respond to national, and worldwide issues that affect us. However, as city councilors, our time and energy must be spent on the needs, concerns, and future of Westbrook,” he said.

Moninski identified affordable housing as the city’s top issue.


“Our city has a shortage of affordable rental housing and home ownership opportunities for working families. If left unaddressed, housing shortages will hurt our local economy and school system,” she  said.

She wants Westbrook to “re-examine” its zoning and land-use restrictions and incentivize development in opportunity growth areas, which would save taxpayers money by making use of existing power, gas, and water access.

The state has identified solutions to local housing shortages, and “Westbrook needs to be ready to collaborate with the state to leverage new funding and partnership opportunities that will arise out of these recommendations,” she said.

Chau, a Realtor, has served on the City Council since 2009.

Moninski, the human resources director at Avesta Housing, represented Ward 2 on the Westbrook School Committee from 2020 to 2021.

The municipal election is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Polls will be open 6 a.m.-8 p.m., and all Westbrook wards will vote at the Community Center, 426 Bridge St.

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