Jennifer Tooker Runs For #2

When Avi Kaner decided to forgo a 2nd run for 2nd selectman, it did not take Jim Marpe long to name Jennifer Tooker as his running mate.

The Dallas native and University of Notre Dame graduate lived in Chicago and London while she and her husband Mo worked for GenRe. (They met in a training class.)

When they were transferred to corporate headquarters in Stamford, they did the usual: searched for the right town (and commute) in Fairfield County.

Tooker says they fell in love with all of Westport, including historic home on North Sylvan.

“The commitment to public education, the beach — we felt a great vibe right from the start,” she notes.

Jennifer Tooker

Realizing this was her family’s final move, she decided to act on her long desire for public service. Tooker was appointed to the Conservation Commission — an excellent introduction to the ins and outs of local and state government.

In 2011 she ran for the Board of Education. Talk of “Westport 2025” intrigued her. She believed that her experience overseeing a global department was a good fit for the 21st-century skills the board was examining. Her financial background could help too.

Voters agreed, and elected her.

“In local politics, it doesn’t matter if there’s an ‘R’ or ‘D’ after your name,” she says. “The goal is to figure out how to get things done for all the people you serve. I’m proud that on the Board of Ed we took a pretty non-partisan view.”

Two years later, Tooker ran for the Board of Finance. She cited her knowledge of the education budget process, and ability to bridge communication gaps between the 2 important town bodies.

Juggling her job, public service and a household with 3 kids was not easy. In 2013 she resigned from GenRe.

“I really enjoyed my government work,” Tooker says. “I wanted to devote all my time and energy to it.”

But she found time to join local non-profits too. She is particularly proud of her work with the Adam J. Lewis Preschool in Bridgeport. “I’m passionate about doing what I can to bridge the achievement gap in education,” she says.

Jennifer Tooker, with her family: husband Mo, daughter Riley, son Jack and daughter Nicole. 

So why is Tooker leaving the finance board — with its important power — to run for 2nd selectman?

“With all that’s going on with the state budget, we’re in for tough times,” she warns. “I think this is the right time for someone with my breadth and depth of experience, and my business principles, to step in and help the town stay vibrant and wonderful.”

And, she adds, “I can’t pass up the opportunity to serve with Jim. I admire his character, his accomplishments and his vision.” The pair worked together on the Board of Education.

She hopes to “help this administration achieve its goals, while navigating turbulent economic times and still maintaining the quality of life in Westport.”

Pointing to the model Marpe used with Kaner and 3rd selectman Helen Garten, Tooker says the 1st selectman can “figure out the best way to use all of our skill sets to keep Westport unique and vibrant.”

There’s plenty of campaigning ahead. But, Tooker says, she loves to kayak, paddleboard and go to the beach with her kids. Those too are parts of her summer plans.

10 responses to “Jennifer Tooker Runs For #2

  1. Marty Bell

    I only know Jen through her contributions to Westport. I rate her as A1, always smiling, always putting her efforts toward making our town a better place for our families.

  2. Gerald F. Romano, Jr.

    Dear Jennifer,
    It sounds like your well versed in politics, educated, and have common sense / Jim Marpe is a great first selectman I’m sure he can find another 2nd selectman to run
    Because I’m asking if you would consider running for Governor of Connecticut.
    Gerald F. Romano, Jr.

  3. Wendy Stahl

    I’ve known Jen as a neighbor and a fellow member of Westport Sunrise Rotary for many years. She is dedicated, analytic, thoughtful and non-partisan. In these tough times in our state we need leaders like her to help us sustain Westport’s quality of life and commitment to excellence. Her expertise will complement Jim Marpe’s experience and skills, giving us the best possible leadership team for these times.

  4. Michael Calise

    Jen is a great choice for Westport! Her personality, her spirt, her knowledge, and past experiences will make the Marpe Tooker Ticket a landslide sucess

  5. My friends all know that I am a lifelong Democrat but when Jim Marpe choose Jen Tooker I knew it was time for me to crossover. I have known Jen for three years largely because of the Tookers enthusiastic support for preserving historic houses . They have opened their very special home for several Westport Historical Society tours in recent years. Jen is quick to emphasize that a family CAN live quite comfortably in an historic house with appropriate 21st century additions . The last addition was so well done that the Tooker’s home, aptly called Nine Hearths, won an Historic Preservation Award from the Historic District Commission in 2014.
    Added to this, Mo Tooker has started a cottage industry by making his own maple syrup from their many maple trees.
    Great team for Westport !
    Ed Gerber
    Immediate Past President Westport Historical Society
    Vice Chairman Historic District Commission

  6. Jen is the best. We’ve known the Tookers since we moved to Westport together over a decade ago and I cannot say enough good things about her and the Tooker family. Jen works hard, cares deeply about Westport (and most importantly the people of Westport), is a wonderful friend and mother, and just an all around great person. She gets along with everyone, and is smart, organized, and efficient. Exactly the type of person we want representing and serving us in government — Westport and hopefully (please) some point beyond! Ed Hulina

  7. I’ve known Jen since her move from London. Our boys were at Kings Highway Elementary together, played Westport soccer on the same team for years, and are great friends. Jen is as good as they come. Since leaving GenRe she has devoted herself to public service and the town of Westport and has done an outstanding job every step of the way. Jim Marpe made a great choice choosing Jen. We are lucky in Westport to have so much talent willing to devote countless volunteer hours to running the town and making it a better place for us all. Melissa Kane is amazing and talented too and has devoted countless hours to the Downtown PIC, the RTM and other public endeavors. I have nothing but good things to say about her. (I don’t know Melissa’s running mate but his background is obviously impressive and I’m sure he would also do a good job.) It will be a tough choice in November. Hopefully the race won’t come down to party, but to the best team for the job. I have always agreed that, as Jen said, it shouldn’t matter if there is a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ behind the name. In this case, as much as I like and respect Melissa, I crossed party before to vote for Jen and I’ll do it again!

  8. Jamie Walsh

    Ms. Tooker clearly gets it. There is no D and R in local politics. Local government has little room for D and R partisanship. It is all about who has the experience that will benefit and lift all Westporters as a whole and put party politics aside. I am of the opinion that Ms. Tooker seems extremely qualified and understands the issues having served successfully on a wide array of public boards and commissions. She obviously will complement First Selectman Marpe as a solid choice for a running mate.

  9. Marjorie Almansi

    I have known Jen and her family from our first days in Westport together. She is smart, compassionate, level-headed and a great all-around leader. She is incredibly capable in all aspects of business and politics. It has been awe-inspiring to watch her transition from corporate executive to local politician.

  10. Armelle Daniels

    Jen Tooker is fantastic. Jen is smart, kind, with an impressive professional career and years of great public service to our community. Jim Marpe and Jen Tooker will be an efficient, level-headed, and financially responsible team.