John Suggs Joins 1st Selectman Race

The 1st selectman race just got more crowded.

John Suggs has announced his candidacy for Westport’s top spot. The independent — running against Republican incumbent Jim Marpe and Democratic challenger Melissa Kane — plans a 3-pronged platform.

Suggs stresses “advocacy, common sense solutions and a nonpartisan approach.”

As a Representative Town Meeting member for 10 years, Suggs cites his leadership roles on school safety, open space and protecting neighborhoods.

A 25-year professional in asset management analysis, public policy and community development, Suggs currently works in forensic genetic genealogy. His Family Orchard business helps adult adoptees search for and reunite with their birth families.

John Suggs

Suggs says he is running as an independent because “I want to represent all of Westport — not merely the interests of any single party or constituency. In times of toxic, partisan politics, where politicians will say just about anything, true or untrue, to gain an advantage, I will always tell you the truth.”

He wants Westporters to “roll up our sleeves and work harder, smarter, better to reduce traffic congestion, sustain the quality of our schools, revitalize downtown and fill empty storefronts, and preserve our property values.”

Suggs says that local elected officials cost Westport taxpayers money as they “endlessly study our problems with exorbitant fees paid to outside consultants.”

He pledges to “place a moratorium on expensive studies, roll back onerous traffic control measures that aren’t working, refurbish (not replace) the Compo Beach pavilion, and restore (not destroy) the Cribari Bridge in Saugatuck.”

Suggs was born and raised in California. With a BA in political science from Loyola Marymount University, an MS in management and systems from New York University and an MBA from Fordham University, he has served as a public policy director, affordable housing advocate, history teacher and Jesuit seminarian.

He and his wife moved to Westport in 2003 with newborn twins, in large part for the schools. Suggs is an active Assumption Church parishioner, and volunteered as a Little League baseball and basketball coach. For 5 years, the Suggses have been a host family for A Better Chance scholars.

“Despite my long record of working on behalf of the town, I am starting the race as the underdog, going up against both established political parties,” Suggs tells “06880.”

“But having talked — and more importantly, listened — one on one to so many people these past few months, I know that my message to Westporters that we must not allow ourselves to get dragged down into the finger-pointing and blame game of toxic partisan politics by both parties resonates deeply for people across the entire political spectrum.”

He adds, “These next few years will be full of difficult challenges for all Westporters, at the state and federal level.” He urges residents to “put aside partisan bickering and pull together as one community, using our common sense to find our own best solutions to navigate through.”

Among the “common sense solutions” Suggs advocates is “fine-tuning traffic controls to mitigate traffic backups.” Adding 3 seconds to a green arrow helps clear 7 more cars from congested intersections, he says.He’d also restore right turn on red at downtown intersections.

Suggs wants to “adaptively reuse valuable town-owned assets” rather than build new ones. He believes “perfectly sound empty buildings” could be converted to new uses like municipal offices, homes for non-profits and senior housing.

“Let’s listen to our residents when they resoundingly no (or yes),” Suggs says. From railroad parking and replacing the Compo pavilion to funding schools, “local politicians should never presume” to tell Westporters what to believe. The 1st selectman should be “an honest broker to ensure all Westporters have a say, and are satisfied that decisions are being made fairly and honestly.”

Josh Suggs wants to save the William F. Cribari Bridge over the Saugatuck River.

He describes his past advocacy efforts as leading the campaign to “save the Cribari Bridge, and protect Saugatuck and Greens Farms from 18-wheelers”; fighting to restore “critical education funding” to the budget; organzing an effort to preserve nearly 6 acres of endangered land as a state archaeological preserve; being an early and strong proponent of a blighted property ordinance; helping revise guidelines that are now “free and fair to both proponents and opponents of future sanitary sewer extensions,” and leading the campaign to stop construction of a driveway from the Barnes & Noble shopping center onto South Morningside Drive, opposite Greens Farms Elementary School.

Recently, Suggs says, partisan politics has seeped down from national and state levels, “influencing substantive policy decison in our so-called nonpartisan RTM.”

He concludes, “I’ve always been true to my convictions. I’ve entered this race not just to win, but to represent the whole community, encouraging greater civic involvement that will lead to a better Westport.”

(For more information, click here.)

37 responses to “John Suggs Joins 1st Selectman Race

  1. I endorse John Suggs. Let’s not have Westport become Washington!
    John is my neighbor, friend and great guy. I promise you he will fight for all of Westport as he has tirelessly fought for Greens farms for 10 years. I have 2 young kids and nothing concerns me more than making sure that we continue to have great schools, resist growing property taxes as a result of mismanagement at the state and independent common sense solutions. John will fight for Westport as he has fought for the 5th!
    I Greg Kraut 100% endorse him.

  2. Robert Arvanitis

    First Selectman is a difficult role. At the town level, politics is personal.
    Can’t trade favors for a few big donors and ignore the rest, like they do in The Swamp.
    So if politics is personal, you better know and trust the person.
    I trust John.

  3. Way to go, John. The congestion issue is huge. My neighbors and I complain to local elected officials, write petitions to local elected officials, attend meetings with local elected officials, and receive tepid responses from local elected officials. And that’s where it ends. I feel disenfranchised. As for all those stupid, wasteful studies; I’m pretty tired of being told what I should care about and how to live. I wish you the best!

  4. Wendy Crowther

    I first met John several years ago when I was in a Davy vs. Goliath situation with the town of Westport regarding a historic preservation issue I cared deeply about. Though many Town officials tried to swat me away, John learned about my efforts and he embraced and supported them. This not only lead to an important preservation accomplishment but it also created a great, collaborative working relationship between the two of us going forward.

    John is indefatigable, brilliant, innovative, ethical, and honest. Most of all, he cares deeply about this town. He will work hard for ALL Westporters; there will be no phoniness, no partisanship, and no exclusivity. This is the guy we need at the helm. He’s got my vote.

  5. I know John Suggs as a colleague on the RTM, as a constituent of his in Greens Farms, and as a chess playing friend. As such, I know John cares passionately about Westport and has provided Greens Farms with exceptional constituent services. He has a strong social conscience and has always been a strong voice for preserving what is best about Westport, for transparency in government, for open discussion, and for hearing all points of view. Regardless of the outcome of the First Selectman race, I will miss his voice on the RTM.

  6. Margaret Christe

    Great news John! John cares passionately about our town and is a true leader! He is trustworthy, competent, dependable and consistently acts with integrity. John has a brilliant mind and the expertise needed to represent our community!

  7. Mary Cookman Schmerker '58

    I might as well say up front that I am not a resident of Westport. However, I know John, his integrity, honesty and work ethic. John will work hard for all the residents of Westport. John will lead in a way that benefits all the residents of Westport .

  8. I have been hearing a lot recently regarding congestion and how candidates are pledging to make fundamental changes. However, I’m not sure that many people really understand the dynamics that are creating the congestion in the first place. Westport has a unique geographical position in that the Post Road is parallel to, and very near to, both the Merritt Parkway and I-95. During rush hour, optimization applications such as WAZE, are directing large amounts of traffic off the major highways through Westport, including side streets. Changing lights to make them faster will merely increase the amount of traffic sent through that location, as the applications optimize to the second on the optimal route to a given location.

    If you want to change the traffic dynamic, there needs to be a regulation put into place that prevents traffic optimization applications from sending traffic through local streets during rush hour times (AM and PM) to ensure the ability of public safety resources such as police, fire and medical to reach their destinations. Nothing else is going to make a fundamental difference in traffic flows in Westport.

  9. Rozanne Gates

    John Suggs is presenting this town with an opportunity to be the best town it can be because John Suggs is the best person to be our new and next First Selectman. As a member of the RTM for many years, John would never give up on the issues and situations that were and are important to the people in his district and the people in the town as a whole. John Suggs is a man who he will give you the attention you deserve. He is not concerned with political party affiliation, he is concerned that the people in this town get the leadership it deserves and the solutions to the problems that are facing us.

  10. Ann Marie Flynn

    John, so glad you got in the race…more than you realize are on your side.
    Thank you.

  11. Sal Liccione

    I want say working with John on transit He is smart on the rtm he take positions that most peaple won’t i think at a time I wish that all first selectman candidates willl bring what’s going at parks and recreation and fire and police and I think jon is great guy and will listen he has been there on the rtm It will be hard find somebody on the rtm to fill his shoes

  12. John Suggs is a good person who always fights the good fight. John works tirelessly to do what is right for the town of Westport and is passionate about the issues that impact the Town’s people. John especially does all he can to help our senior citizens and less economically advantaged. Congrats to John for throwing his hat in the ring!

  13. Adrian Hinojos

    This is GREAT!!! John was one of the first to welcome us to the Westport community when our family moved here 4 years ago. He reached out to us, facilitated meeting other new families and made us feel welcomed and at home. Over the last few years I’ve gotten to know John better. From the very beginning I was impressed with his passion and commitment to Westport. He’s been actively involved in many projects from preserving our town’s historical treasures to practical initiatives such as advocating for our town’s many NYC commuters. As I have gotten to know him better, however, I have become increasingly impressed by his integrity and strong moral character, and I am proud to call him a friend.

  14. I have known John for a number of years. Our children attended GFS together, and I came to know John as a caring parent, and as someone who works hard to improve conditions in the community. John always seems more interested in finding the best solutions for local issues rather than advancing narrow interests. I lived in Westport for over 37 years, and John is an individual who embraces values of the type that served Westport well over those 37 years.

  15. Rima Demarais

    Thank you, John, for committing to such a difficult task! Many party-affiliated voters are really independents at heart and will be delighted to support an articulate and committed leader working to resist the urbanization of Westport.

  16. Hilary Nordholm

    John’s passion for public service, and dedication to our community is remarkable. A Westporter through and through, I am constantly amazed by his knowledge of the history of our town, and all of the good works he has done on Westport’s behalf–many of which have been quietly done and with little fanfare. He is deeply committed to listening to the voices of all Westporters and improving our quality of life. Many have felt frustrated by our current political climate, and this is an opportunity to effect real change on a more local level–and vote Independent!

  17. Don L. Bergmann

    Many supportive responses, most impressive. My focus is on issues: Here is my quick list: The WAC proposal for Golden Shadows; Liner buildings along Elm Street; Apartments to replace much of Sconset Square; creation of “library lane”; a leaf blower noise ordinance and limits during weekends on certain other noises, e.g. stone cutting; specific possible changes to Saugatuck Center; a two tiered parking garage at the Saugatuck RR station; traffic calming techniques; new zoning regs. that require new commercial construction not to generate any additional, new traffic; helping the BOE and Dr. Palmer to keep School budget increases at or below inflation and grand list increases; Town construction of 8-30g units to reach the “moratorium” quickly, increased staffing for understaffed Town departments; a Town Manager and an increased salary for the First Selectman; focus on the plethora of variance grants by the ZBA; preservation of the “old” and “charming”; stop roadway runoff pollution into the Saugatuck river from I-95; greater or lesser subsidies for mass transit; and civil but strong leadership.
    Don Bergmann

    • Nancy Hunter

      And, if only “Ivy League” schools became public, much would be solved.

    • Carolanne Curry

      Pay attentDon Bergman
      You can’t even get to first base with your “list” if you don’t start with leadership….real and assertive leadership.

  18. Bart Shuldman

    Does he have to run with a running mate for 2nd Selectman? Has he announced who his 2nd Selectman will be? How does that work?

  19. Not sure. I got that info from John Suggs. Am in the Vermont woods for a few days with limited access to info!

  20. According to the Town Charter, if John wins, the Selectman candidate with the next highest vote count becomes Second Selectperson and the remaining candidate for Selectperson becomes Third Selectperson. Thus, if John wins either Jim Marpe or Melissa Kane will become Second Selectperson and the other will become Third Selectperson

  21. Hernan Gonzalez

    John Suggs is a phenomenal friend who cares passionately about others and Westport. John and his lovely family opened the doors of their house for us when we moved to Westport over a year and a half ago. We are lucky in having him as a true friend and neighbor. His level of commitment to good causes and the needs of the town are unquestionable. He will truly represent and fight for the best interests of all residents of Westport.

  22. Carolanne Curry

    Most of us agree there’s a specific identity as to what Westport offers as a town that no other Connecticut town offers. And many of us have worked tirelessly to keep this identity intact.
    It is simply smart thinking then to
    use the opportunity to evaluate all three candidatesi for First Selectman, and determine which candidate would protect and promote Westport’s special identity.
    John Suggs has certainly established his ability to listen, to learn, and to lead.
    And to achieve a resulting record of successes in his Representative Town Meeting elected role.
    And with that ability he has earned the right for consideration by voters across Westport…
    for the position of First Selectman on November 7, 2017

    • Bart Shuldman

      Carolanne-I will hope that whatever valuation a Westport resident undertakes will involve the ability of a candidate to financially lead Westport in one of the worst fiscal environments in CT, ever.

      The State of CT is in a Financial Death Spiral right now and sound managerial and financial leadership in Westport town government is critical for our town.

  23. Sandi C. Martin

    My Green’s Farms neighbors and I were fortunate to have John as an ally when we needed assistance from Mr. Marpe, P&Z and Conservation officials.
    I’ll spare everyone the details but suffice it to say I am certain our efforts to remedy some pretty serious conservation and quality-of-life violations would not have been addressed and eventually remedied if not for John’s constant guidance and involvement.

    I know how deeply John cares about Westport and its future. And I know first hand how tenacious and committed he is to making Westport the very best it can be. There’s no doubt he’s in this race for all the right reasons. Good Luck, John!

  24. Christine Meiers

    For my own edification as a voter, I’m interested to hear more about the following:
    (1) The ways that “partisan politics has seeped down from national and state levels, ‘influencing substantive policy decision in our so-called nonpartisan RTM,’” and
    (2) The studies our town has commissioned that, in candidate Suggs’ view, involved “exorbitant fees paid to outside consultants” without resulting in valuable information or changes occurring thereafter.
    Thank you Mr. Suggs for your many years of service to this town through the RTM.

    • As a member of the RTM, I too, would like to know where partisan politics played any role in Town business before the RTM. What were the issues and what were the outcomes?
      Louis Mall
      RTM District 2

      • Bart Shuldman

        Lou-thank you. Could this be a situation where someone wants to use the national political climate to create a non-issue in Westport?

      • Christine Meiers

        I am running for the RTM as well this year – Mr. Mall I hope I’ll be working with you in district 2 – and I’ve had a hard time figuring out over the years what the biggest differences are between the town democratic and republican parties. As compared to the entire U.S., most people here seem fiscally conservative and socially liberal. But I also think that it never hurts to have more candidates running for office, so thank you Mr. Suggs for joining the race!

      • There were NONE. The State of CT and the US Congress would be wise to follow Westport RTM where members vote based on their belief of what is right and best for the Town. This claim is False. The Truth matters.
        Louis Mall
        RTM D2

    • First of all, thank you for producing this valuable forum for exchange of valuable ideas for the Westport community.
      Secondly, as a longtime resident of Wilton and Weston, I am very impressed with the tenor of John Suggs public service and the thoughtfulness of the comments here. I am encouraged that this independent, local spirit who is helping to light the way out of the shadows that have engulfed our political discourse.

      • Have you lived in Westport the last 4 years? If you have not, then you missed being the benenficiary of flat property taxes due to the leadership of Jim Marpe. You will also have missed watching a true non-partisan leader, Jim Marpe, who truly cares about everyone in Westport.