Jim Marpe Runs For Re-Election On His Record

Jim Marpe grew up in Canton, Ohio. After earning a BA from Case Western and an MBA from Wharton, he embarked on a career with Accenture that took him to Chicago and Copenhagen.

Transferred to New York in 1989, Marpe and his wife Mary Ellen were attracted to Westport by the quality of education, amenities like Compo, and the beauty of Longshore. They also appreciated the town’s arts heritage. A performance at the Westport Country Playhouse sealed the deal.

They joined New Neighbors. The very first person they met was from the country they’d just left: Denmark.

That story illustrates everything Marpe loves about Westport. It’s also a reason why — as he completes his first term as first selectman — he looks forward to running for re-election.

First Selectman Jim Marpe

When he ran 4 years ago, Marpe — who had retired from Accenture as a senior partner — believed he could use his business skills, his experiences on the Board of Education (interim chair and vice chair) and Town Plan Implementation Committee, as well as his leadership roles with the Westport Weston Family YMCA, Homes With Hope, Westport Rotary Club and Greens Farms Congregational Church, to help his town.

“I love this place as much as anyone here,” he says.

He cites his accomplishments: improving town finances; keeping property taxes flat; upgrading Compo and Longshore; beautifying downtown; promoting Westport as an attractive place for business; updating tax policies for senior citizens, and improving the Senior Center; creating a Commission on People with Disabilities, ensuring the town remains inclusive for all residents (and their families).

He’s running again, he says, because there is still work to do. “Hartford has placed problems in our laps. We’ve made great strides in creating a budget to address the lack of any significant revenue coming from the state, and any new bills or taxes we can try to mitigate.”

First Selectman Jim Marpe and Westport Library director Bill Harmer, at work in the first selectman’s office.

Marpe adds, “Hartford’s problems are huge. They won’t get solved in one year. We’ll have to keep our own financial house in order for many years. We’ve been conservative in dealing with town finances. We have to work even harder at that, so Westport continues to be an attractive place to stay in, or move to — one of the most active and exciting communities in the country.”

For example, the first selectman says, a public hearing next month will examine rehabilitating the Compo bathhouses in a way that is “acceptable to all, at a cost we can afford.” Similarly, while the Longshore golf course rehabilitation has made it one of the top 8 public courses in Connecticut, the Inn and other parts of the property can also be improved.

Marpe says he is in “total agreement” with his potential challenger, fellow Republican Mike Rea, about the need for continuous improvement. “That’s what I’ve built my professional career on,” Marpe notes. “We can never rest on our laurels. We have to keep what Westporters hold dear, and make sure this is a town we’re all proud of.”

Personally, he is proud of his administration’s non-partisan approach to problem-solving. Marpe says he has “staffed committees and given assignments to the best qualified people, regardless of party. That’s how Westporters like to address issues.”

Jim and Mary Ellen Marpe, with their daughter Samantha.

Second selectman Avi Kaner will not run for re-election, due to increased demands of running his family business. But he’ll chair Marpe’s campaign, and will continue to work on special projects.

Marpe lauds Kaner’s work, and is “thrilled” that Board of Finance member Jennifer Tooker joins his ticket. “With her background, which also includes the Board of Education, she understands the financial challenges, and the important impact education has in Westport.”

Third selectman Helen Garten was Marpe’s Democratic opponent in 2013. “We’ve worked together as a team,” he says. “All three selectmen play to our strengths. That’s helped make our administration a success.”

He looks back on the past 4 years with satisfaction. Little moments stand out: thank-you notes sent after he attended local events; Memorial Day parades and ceremonies that honor individual citizens, the town and our country as a whole.

Nearly 30 years after moving here, Marpe, his wife and his daughter Samantha — a product of the Westport school system — appreciate more than ever all that Westport is, and does.

Right now for instance, he’s preparing for a panel on April 1 about Syrian refugees.

“Not many communities this size would have that discussion,” he notes. “But in Westport, we have debates like this. Some of them are heated. But when they’re over, we all go to the Black Duck together.”

Jim and Mary Ellen Marpe outside the Black Duck, during last year’s Slice of Saugatuck.

(Democratic State Representative Jonathan Steinberg has set up an exploratory committee to examine a run for first selectman. He declined an interview, citing his state legislature commitments on the budget.)

40 responses to “Jim Marpe Runs For Re-Election On His Record

  1. Roberta Tager

    Jim Marpe has done an amazing job in Westport. In my almost 60 years of living here, he is the first to be quickly responsive to requests for town improvement. He has accomplished an amazing amount of improvements with quiet “aplomb”. Mr. Marpe is a ‘treasure’.

  2. It has been an honor to serve under Jim Marpe leadership. Immediately after we won the last election, we replaced our slogan of “Leadership Matters” with “Westport First.” Jim Marpe, Helen Garten, and I have worked together closely in a non-partisan manner. We have kept taxes float, reduced long term debt, funded our pension obligations, built up an OPEB reserve, invested in the town’s infrastructure, supported our schools, built up a land acquisition fund, and beautified our wonderful town assets such as downtown, Compo beach, and Longshore. I am fully confident that Jim Marpe and Jen Tooker will continue that level of commitment to excellence and non-partisanship.

    Please visit the http://www.MarpeTooker.com website and https://m.facebook.com/marpetooker/ Facebook page regularly for campaign updates.

  3. We are new to Westport and we have been consistently impressed at how well this town is run. Compo beach and other public areas are always clean and well managed, and snow storms are handled with incredible efficiency. This is one of the things we love about Westport. Jim is doing a fantastic job and he is clearly someone who knows how to get things done.

  4. Jack Krayson

    Jim is a good listener; who gets things done. It’s a slam-dunk in Nov.

  5. Michael Calise

    Jim’s thoughtful and pragmatic approach to budget issues have served us well in the face of our undeniably mismanaged state government which continues to treated our local tax rates. There is absolutely no question that he and his administration should be re-warded with a second term

  6. We moved to Westport from NYC about a year and a half ago and have been impressed with how well-run the town is. Public amenities and services like Compo Beach, the library, snow removal, and the schools all seem first rate. On the rare occasions I’ve had to call a public official for assistance, they answer their phone and are happy to help. On the one occasion I had to contact Jim, he helped me communicate with the right people within 24 hours. Good luck in the election, Jim. You’ll have our support.

  7. I have been a Westport resident for more than three decades and I am an unaffiliated voter. I have lived under administrations from both political parties and I have to say that the past four years have been the singularly most delightful period of political harmony, equanimity, professionalism, and fiscal responsibility. Jim Marpe has demonstrated how much can be achieved when the town’s leadership puts Westport first and party second. Mr. Rea is a good, decent, honorable, and competent gentleman but to my mind, we would be robbing the town of the best leadership it’s had in a long long time if we don’t re-elect Jim Marpe. Adding Jen Tooker to the ticket makes it truly a “dream team” and I look forward with great anticipation and delight to the Marpe-Tooker administration in the town’s future.

  8. Glad to see that Jim is running again for First Selectman. The town is running quite well and I attribute that to Jim’s strong leadership and his collaborative governing style. I fully support his reelection in November. I ask my fellow Westporters to ask themselves this question…is our town better off now than it was four years ago? Notwithstanding the significant challenges we have in Hartford, I would answer the “better off” question with a very strong “yes”.
    While I’ll miss Avi Kaner’s contributions to town government, I know that Jen Tooker is a great add to the ticket. Her experience on both the Board of Ed and the Board of Finance will serve her and the town well. Great choice, great ticket.

  9. So glad to hear that Jim is running again. We are so fortunate that he is willing to dedicate his time and leadership skills to keeping our town one of the most desirable places to live in CT. Thank you Jim for all that you do for Westport!

  10. Cathy Walsh, Chair P&Z Commission

    Jonathan Steinberg declines to be interviewed because he’s too busy? Rubbish!!! He is avoiding his constituents because he is blundering already in Hartford and doesn’t want to be exposed this early in the game.
    March 17 Hartford Courant:
    “Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, a conservative Democrat from Westport, said he would be willing to tie the toll funding to a Constitutional lock box so that the money could never be used for any purposes other than transportation”.

    A glib, shallow and misleading answer to a complicated issue. He supports tolls on 95. Period. Lock boxes don’t exist in the real world …we all know that.

    Jonathan ‘s tactic is one of making glib remarks and deflecting questions which are asked, and he always leaves events early so that he can not be cornered.

    Jim Marpe and Jen Tooker master facts, return phone calls and are always the last to leave events because they are engaged with their constituents.

    They also do interviews after 10-12 hours days.

    • Bart Shuldman

      Cathy–right From Rep Steinberg’s mouth-he is once again advocation tax increases. As we know, Rep Steinberg voted to 2 massive state income tax increases in 2011 and 2015, including raising the estate and death tax in seniors. This is why he is quoted saying:

      From WestportNow published Wednesday March 21-Rep Steinberg is responding to the budget issues and pushing the Teachers Pension costs onto towns and cites (Westport) he tells the DTC about raising taxes once again….in his statement in the article he says..”Democrats will have to find revenues elsewhere”. Revenues = NEW TAXES.

      Cathy-read the article. Rep Steinberg shows who he is and who he has been–a Hartford politician who votes over and over again to raise taxes.

    • Bart Shuldman

      Now Rep Steinberg is respsonding to the budget issues by speaking about raising taxes once again….in his statment in this article he says..”Democrats will have to find revenues elsewhere”. Revenues = NEW TAXES.

      • Dick Lowenstein

        Can’t you two stop your snarlycomments?. Their tone reflects poorly on Westport in general and mainstream Republicans in particular.

        • Bart Shuldman

          Dick. Seems like you cannot handle the truth? Rep Steinberg spoke about more revenues-which means higher taxes. His votes help drive GE the leave CT. His votes helped raise CT state income taxes twice-the largest tax increases ever. Now Westport faces higher property taxes due to Rep Steinberg’s votes as CT tax payers face another huge state budget deficit. Dick-the state deficit is projected at $3.5 BILLION.

        • Jeff Arciola

          Wouldn’t want to upset a democrat. They always have kind words. Lol. I guess someone can’t handle the truth. Look at his record Dick. It speaks for itself.

        • Bart Shuldman

          Dick–here comes higher taxes. And based in Rep Steinberg previous votes, he will vote FOR.

          While Gov. Dannel P. Malloy continues to push spending cuts as the chief solution to Connecticut’s latest budget crisis, his fellow Democrats on one key panel say a more balanced mix of reductions and revenue might be unavoidable. REP Steinberg voted to raise income taxes in 2011 and 2015 and recently voted to INCREASE the state employee pension costs in act tax payers by $11 BILLION. Instead of fixing the problem, state employee benefits that are creating the fiscal crisis in CT, Rep Steinberg votes to protect 55,000 state workers over the 3,500,000 residents in CT and his neighbors in westport.

          “With more than $1.2 billion in uncertainties in each year of Malloy’s two-year plan, Democratic leaders of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee are exploring a sales tax increase to stabilize finances in the next two fiscal years.”

  11. Andrea L. Moore

    Great news for Westport! Thank you Jim and Jen for your continued service to our town. Westporters are fortunate to have two intelligent, rational, and hard working people willing to lead our town.

  12. While Mr Marpe is a decent and well intentioned person, his tenure has been marked by a steep decline in the quality of life in our town. Traffic and congestion have increased dramatically in the past four years, and with the lack of planning it will surely get even worse. School budgets are being cut when education traditionally was the crown jewel of our town. What a shame. Meanwhile we pay more in overtime for fire and police officials, and budget busting public works that benefit a select few (for example Saugatuck Shores bridge ) than any of our neighboring towns . Marpe has been curiously passive and on all of these issues, preferring to lead from behind or not at all. We need more leadership and vision for the future or we will face a declining quality of life in Westport. It’s time for a change.

    • Bart Shuldman

      Evan–you and your wife have been longtime supporters of Jonathan Steinberg. That is fine, democracy is good. However, your post is most inaccurate and misleading, and therefore shows your lack of honesty when responding. You state ‘there has been a steep decline in the quality of life in our town’-REALLY?? Any chance you can back that up with facts and figures or is it just your desire to make things up in order for you to support Jonathan Steinberg.

      The school budget issue we now face in Westport is due to Jonathan Steinberg’s votes for massive state income tax increases over the last 6 years, while he has done nothing to solve CT state employee pension and medical plans that are destroying CT. Here is fact Evan–Jonathan Steinberg just voted to approve a change to the state employee pension plan that will COST CT tax payers, and his Westport neighbors, $11 BILLION more!! I could go on with your misleading post.

      Jim Marpe has done an outstanding job in Westport, including holding down the costs that he controls (the town budget) which, by the way, does not include the costs for Westport education. Westport’s Board of Education is in control of the education budget, not the First Selectman

      Bringing Hartford’s mess to Westport is absolutely the worst outcome. Jonathan Steinberg and Hartford are one and the same. It is time for a change, but that is in Hartford where Jonathan Steinberg and his companions have dug us into a deep hole. Westport, we need to vote Jonathan Steinberg out, and continue the wonderful leadership we have experienced with Jim Marpe.

      • we will let the voters decide. But anyone who has been stuck for 15 minutes in traffic in downtown Westport around rush hour knows exactly what I am talking about. And if you own property, just take a look at the latest Westport Now property report (3/22) showing price reductions for virtually every single house listed on the market. A bad sign of things to come if we don’t invest in our future. As to your other points: this is a local election not a referendum on state policy. Let’s focus on Westport not Hartford

        • Bart Shuldman

          Evan. Everything you just wrote are issues created by Jonathan Steinberg’s votes.

          Let’s start with traffic in Westport. Jonathan Steinberg just voted to approve tolls in CT. How much worse will traffic get in Westport as cars take the local roads to avoid tolls. Once again Steinberg votes for his friends in Hartford and against his neighbors in Westport.

          Jonathan Steinberg voted for 2 massive state income tax increases that drive GE to move out of CT. In addition, Steinberg voted to increase the death and estate tax on seniors that are driving them to move out of CT. Home price declines are a direct reflection on businesses and people moving out of Westport which is a direct result of Steinberg’s votes in Hartford. Steinberg has continued to supported his Hartford friends against his neighbors interests in Westport.

          Just recently Steinberg voted to increase the state employee pension costs in CT which will raise taxes on CT taxpayers (including Westport residents) to absorb the $11 BILLION increase in employee pension costs. These huge pension costs are ‘crowding out’ state budget funds to pay for our roads and bridges you complain about. This is strictly a Jonathan Steinberg caused issue.

          We need to keep Hartford out of Westport and insure Jonathan Steinberg never gets elected to a position in our town!!

          • You cannot blame the existing (and indisputably worsening) traffic problems in Westport on the possibility of tolls being enacted at some point in the future. The deteriorating conditions have occurred under Mr. Marpe’s watch right here in Westport. no matter how hard Republicans try to use Hartford (and decades old policies dating back to the Rowland years) as an all purpose red herring, the issues here are local in nature and its time for some vision to find solutions

            • The money issues originate in Hartford.

              They are going to get much worse.

              Malloy will allieviate the traffic congestion by shrinking the state’s population.

            • Bart Shuldman

              Evan. Your kidding-right? Which roads are causing the traffic that you speak about? Are they town roads or state roads? Did something change in Westport that made our roads smaller? Narrower?

              Seriously? When a traffic accident happens on I-95 is that our town leaders fault the roads get jammed? I don’t think so.

              So please-elaborate.

              One issue that is clearly created by Hartford and Steinberg’s vote is the higher estate and death tax that is driving our senior citizens to leave CT. As their homes get sold and a family of 4 moves into Westport, the amount of car traffic could increase. No doubt. But it is truly ridiculous to blame any leader in Westport that it would be his/her fault that there could be a bit more traffic. As Steinberg joins his friends in Hartford on raising taxes on CT tax payers including our senior citizens, the effect is having the very outcome you seem to want to complain about.

              Please, do not let Hartford into Westport.

              • Traffic results from too many cars on our roads. Reducing traffic problems would require, for example, implementing and encouraging smarter policies such as enhancing the shuttle bus service (instead of seeking to cut its budget each year); building bus shelters along the Post Road for those using Coastal Link ;and creating and improving sidewalks and bike racks so people can opt out of using a car for shorter trips. All of those policies are local (not state) issues. And unfortunately the current administration has done nothing to make things better

                • Bart Shuldman

                  Evan. This is insane. To say Jim Marpe is responsible for traffic in Westport borders on ridiculous.

                  As for buses in town, the reality is very few use them. That is just a fact. You can blame me-I like to drive my car (as many many do in Westport).

                  I have lived here for over 20 years, and the roads are the same. Very few use the buses even after all the
                  money spent to try and market them better, and the traffic not much different from year to year.

                  But you should be honest regarding the fact that you are a strong supporter of Jonathan Steinberg, and your made up issue of trying to blame traffic on Jim Marpe, transparent.

                  Wow. Westport is having a BofE meeting tonight discussing serious cuts to our education budget, which are caused by Governor Malloys policies supported with Steinberg’s votes. And that is a fact also.

                  • I was not blaming Mr Marpe for the traffic; I’m blaming him for failing to adopt forward-thinking 21st century measures that would help reduce its impact on our lives. You may prefer to drive everywhere and all the time but there are others in this town who want readily available auto alternatives which are better for the environment and our quality of life. We need to look to the future not the past.

                • Bart Shuldman

                  Evan. While you are so concerned with traffic, please let me know your thoughts on the traffic impaCT to Westport with Steinbergs vote to implement tolls?

            • Bart Shuldman

              Evan. With your concern regarding traffic in Westport, what has Jonathan Steinberg done, as a transportation committee memberin Hartford, to help our town?

              • Jennifer Johnson

                Bart. Regarding your comments on transportation, let me point out that the Town spent over $250k on a downtown plan with over 40 transportation-recomendations. Where are we now? Some nice new brick (that hasn’t been paid for by the merchants as the town was told), and a beautiful new Bedford Square development that’s about to load our town with more traffic. It’s up to Jim Marpe to take advantage of the state and federal programs available to Westport. Jonathan Steinberg can support Jim Marpe’s efforts but only if Jim Marpe makes the effort. More planning dollars is just a way of making it look like your doing something. What about going for capital funding instead of announcing more planning efforts and committees? What about the $700K in Rail and Bus studies that were completed under Jim Marpe’s watch, then shelved. Look at those for some solutions. Oh…and btw, Jim Marpe voted the Westport Transit District off a Federally recognized organization called the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), breaking with a 30-year Westport precedent Regarding transportation, traffic congestion and related quality of life issues, we’ve simply gone in the wrong direction these past four years.

                • Bart Shuldman

                  As many Westporters know, the transit system has been a failure, because people just do not want to ride a bus. Most people who moved to the ‘suburbs’ want to drive their own cars. To help people understand the issue with bus ridership, the Westport subsidy for the Greens Farms line is a whopping $1,483 per rider. The Door to Door subsidy is $6,483 per rider.

                  While you want to make up stories about Jim Marpe, everyone should know you failed as Transit Director to improve anything and now no longer have that role.

                  Jennifer–you and your husband Evan (I know you have different last names) are good friends and supporters of Jonathan Steinberg. That is democracy. However, you continue to support a State Representative who has supported his party in Hartford over is constituents in Westport, and voted to raise income taxes on his neighbors and, even worse, on the senior citizens in Westport.

                  Now Westport faces the consequences of the Budget Implementers that Jonathan Steinberg voted to approve. Just last night the Board of Education had a meeting to decide how to handle the needed budget cuts, as Governor Malloy with the help of Jonathan Steinberg (and his friends in Hartford), cut education funds to our town. In addition, our town is also facing the potential to pay 1/3 of the Teachers pension Plan, which will increase Westport’s budget expenses by millions.

                  Finally, if you are so concerned with traffic in town, how can you support Jonathan Steinberg who just voted to approve state tolls. Many cars could eventually ride on Westport roads to avoid these tolls.

  13. Jennifer Johnson

    Bart. My post was about transportation and congestion problems. I’m not hearing any solutions. My post pointed out concrete examples of where Jim Marpe could and should be doing more to improve the congestion problems facing Westport. The conversation needs to evolve beyond simply saying that “no one wants to ride a bus in suburbia”….except maybe those that do, or those that wish they could walk safely, or ride a bike safely, or those who realize that sitting in traffic isn’t really how they want to spend their time. It’s easy to deflect the dialog by simply calling volunteers failures. Frankly, name-calling is counter productive and not welcome in a community that needs to work together to find solutions. I am not partisan on the topic. But this Woog article is not about me, you or Jonathan Steinberg. It’s about Jim Marpe. I am eager to hear Jim Marpe lay out his transportation vision – including specific steps he intends to take to address this problem.

  14. A major debate is now underway as to whether the board of finance should cut the school budget – an issue of critical importance as it poses a threat to the quality of education in our town — and Mr Marpe is totally silent , trying to avoid the consequences of actually taking a stand – again further proof that he unfortunately has nothing to offer in terms of leadership for the future

    • Exactly what can Marpe do to change the dynamics of the process? One would think that with the BOE run by Democrats and the BOF run by Democrats the two boards would be able to come to an accommodation. Perhaps the tensions are inevitable given the financial distress created in Hartford.

      • He just stood up (at 11 pm) and took no position on the issue before the Board aside from saying he really wants the town and schools to “work together” . How profound. He is the top elected official in the town and he apparently has no view as to whether the budget cut should be made or not – or if he does, he’s afraid to speak up for fear of antagonizing one side or the other in this major debate. An incredible abdication of leadership

    • Bart Shuldman

      Evan–lets start with how Westport got to the current situation where education funds to Westport (and many towns in CT) have been cut by Governor Malloy. And lets start with why Westport is being threatend by Governor Malloy to have to pay 1/3 of the teacher pension costs. OUR STATE REPRESENTATIVE JONATHAN STEINBERG voted for 2 major tax increases and just recently voted to increase state employee pension costs on CT tax payers by $11 BILLION. Westport is facing very hard budget issues because our STATE REPRESENTATIVE voted against supporting his constituents, and instead voted to support Governor Malloy. Jonathan Steinberg’s votes will cause a massive budget deficit srating July 1 2017. Jonathan Steinberg’s votes is a reason why GE left CT.

      Evan, Westport has to stop voting for a political party and start voting for people that will protect our schools and our interests. And we need to keep Jonathan Steinberg and his Hartford politics out of Westport.

      • Bart I have a better idea: let’s step up as a town that has been historically a leader in the state and — notwithstanding the fiscal difficulty in Hartford — let’s take a stand as a town to support our uniquely important and special school system even if we need to pay more to preserve it.

        Sent from my iPhone


        • Bart Shuldman

          Evan. The percent of the budget that needs to be cut after some of the changes such as insurance, is very small. Your desire to justbtax and spend it nitnsuprising given your support and conversation. But the reality is CT is broke due to the constant spending and lack of fiscal discipline. CT tax payers face a $3.5 BILLION budget deficit in CT with the next biannual budget. This is no joke. In addition, Billion budget deficits will continue for years and years as Governor Malloy, and let’s be honest, Jonathan Steinberg, refuse to FIX THE PROBLEM.

          So no Evan. Let’s not lead Hartford to continue to spend and not introduce fiscal discipline. All we will do is convince Governor Malloy and others to continue their tax and spend policies that is destroying our wonderful state.

          Evan-CT is in a financial death spiral. Raise taxes and businesses and people leave. That is a fact of what is happening. The more Governor Malloy taxes, the more leave. The financial death spiral continues.

      • Bart I have a better idea: let’s step up as a town that has been historically a leader in the state and — notwithstanding the fiscal difficulty in Hartford — let’s take a stand as a town to support our uniquely important and special school system even if we need to pay a bit more to preserve it. Nothing could be more important to our future

        • Bart Shuldman

          Evan-interesting that the one BofF Board member asking for the largest education budget restoration, John Hartwell, pays NO property taxes in Westport.