Kane Names Simmelkjaer As Running Mate

Democratic First Selectman candidate Melissa Kane has completed her ticket.

This morning she announced that Rob Simmelkjaer will join her, in the 2nd selectman slot.

A member of the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Democratic Town Committee, Simmelkjaer jumped into local politics soon after moving here in 2013.

Rob Simmelkjaer

His face may have been known to Westporters even before he arrived. He’s been an on-air contributor for NBC Sports, where he is also vice president of NBC Sports Ventures. He previously worked at ESPN and ABC News, where as anchor and correspondent he covered such events as the Virginia Tech shootings and President Ford’s funeral.

At Dartmouth College, Simmelkjaer majored in government and philosophy. He also holds a law degree from Harvard University.

He is a volunteer coach with the Westport Soccer Assocation, and a vice moderator at Norfield Congregational Church. He and his wife Kathryn — a physician at Bridgeport Hospital — are the parents of 2 young daughters.

When NBC Sports moved from 30 Rock to Stamford, the Simmelkjaers looked to move out of Manhattan. They had friends here. The town’s friendly vibe, opportunities for children and excellent schools made it a no-brainer.

“This is the place I wish I grew up in,” says Simmelkjaer, a New Jersey native.

Always politically engaged, he volunteered with the Barack Obama campaigns in 2008 and ’12, and Hillary Clinton last year.

When Kane asked him to be her running mate, he was quick to say yes. “She’s a terrific leader, is passionate about the town, and knows we have to invest in our assets,” he says.

He is eager to face the budget issues “coming down from Hartford.”

Rob Simmelkjaer with his wife Kathryn, and daughters Julia and Annika.

He also is running because, he says, “with the big picture in today’s country, more people need to stand up and answer the call to serve.”

Believing in the adage “all politics is local,” Simmelkjaer says, “if we want to solve problems at the state and national level, we need to show we can do it here, in a civil way.”

If elected, he hopes to leverage his day job — working with entrepreneurs and tech people — to focus on “better uses of technology as a town, and with partners, to solve problems like traffic, parking and communications.”

Simmelkjaer also says that — though they’re not the Board of Education or Finance — the 3 selectmen have a role to play in “maintaining our top-quality schools. Whether you have kids or not, that’s important for us all.”

17 responses to “Kane Names Simmelkjaer As Running Mate

  1. Arline Gertzoff

    Way to go Melissa and Rob.Best of luck

  2. Rozanne Gates

    Congratulations to Rob and Melissa. Rob, take a trip to Burlington, Vermont to see what Westport could be if it had the vision and leadership.

    • Tyler Smith

      Pretty ridIculous statement and hardly a welcome or congratulations when it’s rolled into a jab like that.

  3. We are not Burlington Vermont…as lovely as Burlington Vermont is….We are Westport, CT and we do not need much outside help becoming what we already are…not perfect…but one of the best places to live on the face of the Earth!

  4. Nancy Axthelm

    Wonderful news!!! You two will make an amazing team and Westport will be better for it now – and in the future.

  5. David Loffredo

    As someone who’s agnostic to the whole political party scene – what I’d really like from the Kane/Simmelkjaer team is a bullet point list of what they’d do differently than what “Team Marpe” has done and/or would like to continue doing. We all get that it’s a great town with fine schools and beautiful beaches, yada yada. We’re also in a significant budget crunch.

    I’m from the “if it ‘aint broke don’t fix it” camp – so aside from Democrats wanting control of the First Selectman’s office – what could we as residents expect to be different over the next four years?

    • David thanks very much for your comment. I absolutely agree that this is what people in town need to hear, and we will be rolling out just such a list in the weeks ahead. Thanks for your thoughts and I hope to see you around town during the campaign.


  6. Sal Liccione

    I wish rob and Melissa good luck but I rely rely hope as someone who lives and work downtown and cares about the beach and other things I do hope Ri want heat we’re they stand on the budget and if we need more workers for parks and rec maintance and Dpw and police and fire and the contract I want here were they stand and traffic how bad traffic downtown has been so please I hope someone answering questions thanks sal liccione

  7. Well said Jamie- We are not Burlington Vermont. We are a diverse community of people who do care about our town. As a member of the RTM it’s great working with everyone on all the various town boards. We all may not agree on everything or everyone’s view. What we do agree on is working to make Westport a better place. We are lucky to have 4 good people in Melissa, Rob, Jim and Jen who do care about our town running for office. Keep it about Westport and for Westport.

    • Jamie Walsh

      Thanks Jimmy! Good luck to all the candidates. As an Independent, I always listen to both sides and try my best to vote with little emotion.

    • Bart Shuldman

      Jimmy. With all the fiscal issues in Hartford and the unknown impaCT on Westport, this team has to be the most inexperienced twosome running to lead Westport. Not one of the candidates has been on the Board of Finance. Not one on the Board of Education. One candidate has only been in town (and CT) for a few years.

      I know many will say I am political, but this is very concerning.

      • Rob Simmelkjaer

        Bart, if you’re open to listening, Melissa and I would be happy to speak with you about the experiences we both bring to this campaign and the vision we have for the future of this great town. Let me know – you can find me on Facebook. Happy Fourth!

  8. Lisa Marie Alter

    Glad to see a young, vibrant, team – promoting vision and action – in Westport’s Selectman/Selectwoman Race. This “Unaffiliated voter” supports you, Melissa and Rob !