Jim Marpe, a Board of Education member for nearly 8 years and currently its chairman, announced today he is running for first selectman. He seeks the Republican nomination for the election, to be held exactly 1 year from today.
Marpe – who retired as a senior partner of Accenture in 2002 after 32 years with the international management consulting and computer technology services firm — will resign his Board of Ed seat.
“I’m proud that this board is as non-partisan as possible,” he told “06880” today. “I don’t want anything the Board of Education does to be seen through a political lens.”
Although the selectman’s race is a full year off, Marpe believes “it is important to begin now to build the organization and broad support that will be required to win the most important government management and leadership position in Westport.
“Many Westporters are concerned about the real and potential deterioration of town services, and their impact on the quality of life that we have come to expect,” he adds.
“Westporters know that by maintaining that quality of life in all its dimensions – including schools, beaches, athletic facilities, Longshore, open space, well maintained roads and facilities, responsive and helpful town employees, entertainment options, the arts, shopping, dining, etc. — we can maintain our home values, which for many is still their largest investment.”
His plan for maintaining and improving Westport’s quality of life includes:
- A focus on economic development and overall land use planning that would improve the commercial tax base to lessen the burden on individual households, and assure the town remains physically attractive and “user friendly”
- Addressing long-term debt, pension and retirement-related benefit obligations through appropriate restructuring and labor contract negotiations. “The financial overhang of these obligations has a direct impact on the town’s ability to address day-to-day operating issues, as well as initiate long-term improvements,” Marpe says.
- Initiating a long-term infrastructure improvement plan that would help creatively address challenges such as extended power outages, flood and wind related storm damage, railroad station parking and senior housing. “Implicit in this process is the need to find environmentally friendly and progressive ways to deliver solutions and also take advantage of the dramatic changes in information technology delivery and support,” the candidate says.
Marpe adds: “I also recognize the importance of public/private partnerships in achieving solutions to many of our local challenges.
“I believe my educational and professional experience, and my track record of effective leadership in local government and not-for-profit organizations has prepared me to lead Westport in addressing these and the dozens of other challenges that we face in order to keep Westport a ‘great’ town.
“Moreover, I believe my experience allows me to bring a high quality of management and leadership to Town Hall and our various town services.”
Marpe is currently chairman of the Westport Weston Family Y, and serves on the board of Westport Rotary. He is a former moderator of Green’s Farms Congregational Church, and board member of Homes With Hope.
Marpe’s resignation from the Board of Education is effective on Tuesday (November 13). That way, he says, the board has time to find a candidate who can participate fully in 2013-14 budget deliberations. That process begins in January.
Marpe says, “as current chairman of the Board of Education, it will be my privilege to nominate Elaine Whitney for election as permanent chairperson for the coming year at our November 12 meeting. I will leave the Board knowing that its leadership will be in good hands, and that all its members will continue to operate in the best long term interests of Westport students and taxpayers.”
Whitney, a Democrat, is expected to be elected. Democrats form a 4-3 majority on the board.
Don O’Day — immediate past chairman of the Board of Ed — says, “I have known Jim Marpe since 2005 when we both ran on opposing tickets. He is my friend and, in my opinion, among the most dedicated, talented and hardest working public servants in Westport.
“During the last 7 years, Jim and I worked closely together to ensure that our schools delivered exceptional results with an open and transparent budget. Jim would often remind me that the answer to the many challenges facing our schools was not necessarily to throw money at the problem. Rather, he insisted that we drive an open discussion with subject matter experts and find a solution that worked best for everyone.”