In November, Westport elects a new 1st selectman.
We’ll need a new Representative Town Meeting leader too.
After 20 years on the RTM — the last 4 as moderator — and following a long career in education, Velma Heller looks forward to more time with her family.
Heller — who will be 85 next month — and her husband Garson have 3 children, 6 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.
“This is a good time to do it,” the leader of Westport’s legislative branch says. “I’ve really enjoyed this role. It’s been an exciting journey.”
Heller’s first RTM race was in 2001. She’d just retired after 17 years directing student teachers through Sacred Heart University’s College of Education — which followed a 31-year career with the Westport Public Schools, as reading specialist, Greens Farms Elementary School and Continuing Education principal, Bedford Middle School vice principal, and town-wide director of curriculum.
Her son Grant had been on the RTM; so had her husband.
“It’s your term to serve,” Grant said.
She ran as a write-in candidate, and won. She was re-elected 9 more times. She was chosen as deputy moderator, then moved into the top spot when Eileen Lavigne Flug stepped down to become assistant town attorney.
Heller declined to cite any highlights of her 2-decade tenure. “I put great effort into everything,” she says. But the former educator especially enjoyed chairing the Education Committee.
“I’ve made many friends, and developed wonderful relationships,” she says of her tenure. “This is my RTM family.”
In November she’ll have more time to spend with Garson, and her biological family. Their son Grant lives in Westport; son David is in Simsbury, and daughter Julie is in New York. Their grandchildren and great-grandchildren are all over the country.
“06880” joins Velma Heller’s many friends and admirers in saying, “Thank you for your long, great service to Westport!”