Westport voters have re-elected Jim Marpe as 1st selectman. He and running mate Jen Tooker prevailed over Democrats Melissa Kane and Rob Simmelkjaer, and petitioning candidates John Suggs and T.J. Elgen.
Moments ago, Marpe gave a victory speech at Republican headquarters. Here’s what he said:
I want to begin by thanking the voters of Westport, and all of Jen Tooker’s and my supporters who are here tonight, for the extraordinary vote of confidence that you have shown us today and throughout the past months on the campaign trail. I am humbled by the honor of being re-elected as your first selectman, and grateful that you have seen fit to grant me another 4 years of this awesome responsibility.
I want to thank our competitors, Melissa, Rob, John and TJ, for stepping forward to serve this wonderful community and to put in the effort to run this challenging race. You deserve the thanks of all Westporters for putting yourselves out there. Jen and I look forward to working with all of you in the coming 4 years to make Westport the very best place it can be.
As the saying goes, success has many fathers (and mothers), and in this case it is true. Many of you suggested that I run again for first selectman. I am grateful for that confidence and support and by the fact that it comes from across the political spectrum.
And thank you to my family and the many outstanding volunteers who helped make this campaign a success.
From the time I became first selectman 4 years ago, the process has always been about people – the people of Westport. In that time, and especially during the campaign, I have met with so many Westporters, often at the usual campaign places – the soccer fields, train stations, transfer station and through many community activities and fundraisers, and uncounted phone calls and front doors. What I learned, or perhaps re-learned, was a simple truth: Whether your family arrived here generations ago or you just arrived last week, Westport is a very special place. Yes, we have beautiful surroundings, great schools, amazing recreational amenities and the charm of a New England town. But what really makes Westport a special place are the people — interesting, talented, creative, tolerant, smart and, yes, opinionated.
We all have the tendency to work and play among people who are like ourselves, but one of the great benefits of my job as well as the campaign trail is realizing the remarkably diverse population of Westport and the challenges that so many face. And you come to realize the importance of representing everyone in town. From the person on Saugatuck Shores who is uncertain what to do about making his house FEMA compliant, to the widow in a deteriorating home in the Coleytown area who is not sure how she can afford to stay in Westport, to the young moms with toddlers who just want some benches and shade in our playground areas.
The selectman’s job – in fact any government responsibility – is all about service. I once told a group of Staples High School students that I viewed politics as simply another vehicle to be of service to our community and to the people of our community. So it’s time now to switch from the politics of an election campaign to once again representing all the people and to focus on what we have in common – not what divides us.
Our vision has always been to make Westport one of the best places in America to live by:
- Fully supporting the excellence of our schools by providing the students, parents and teachers the resources they need to keep our public education world class;
- Renewing our commitment to seniors who want to age in place through innovative programs, living options, financial relief and an enhanced senior center;
- Practicing fiscal discipline to safeguard Westport’s financial future;
- Promoting the economic vitality of Westport while preserving Westport’s small town character and New England charm;
- And enhancing the quality of life by delivering the highest quality town services and amenities that reflect the complex needs and interests of our fellow citizens.
But these are empty promises unless, as a team, your selectmen listen to you – the people – learn from you and then take leadership in addressing the priorities that you help us establish.
I view the selectmen’s office as a team. For the past 4 years I have had the privilege of working with Avi Kaner and Helen Garten, both of whom have stepped forward to take on major projects of their own. Please join me in thanking them for their many years of elected volunteer service to the Town.
I am also fortunate to have an incredible office manager in Eileen Francis – she keeps her cool when others around her are losing theirs – and our newest office members Kirsten Rosa, Sara Harris and Eileen Flug. And now in addition to Jen Tooker, we welcome Melissa Kane who has demonstrated that she is prepared to take on a wide variety of leadership responsibilities as part of the Selectmen’s team.
But our team is even bigger than the selectmen’s office. We are fortunate in Westport to have so many dedicated, capable and experienced employees throughout all aspects of the Town’s operations. The town’s success during these past 4 years, and well before that, is the result of many outstanding town employees who I have had the privilege to work with. I look forward to continue collaborating with them to make Westport an even better place.
And the other key to Westport’s success is the huge community of volunteers. Thank you to everyone who serves or has served in any sort of volunteer role, be it in government, schools, not-for-profit organizations or your house of worship. Westport could simply not function without your interest, commitment and active support.
And so I ask you to join me as our new selectmen team begins its focus on the people of Westport and making this one of the best places to live for every Westport citizen. Let’s continue making ideas into reality. Thank you for your support and the confidence you have expressed in Jen and me in this election and thank you in advance for your help in realizing our vision.