RTM Changes: Velma Heller To Hand Over Gavel

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.”

Velma Heller

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!”

11 responses to “RTM Changes: Velma Heller To Hand Over Gavel

  1. Sal liccione

    Thanks Velma to your service to the rtm as a district 9 colleague it has been a honor to serve with you for the past almost 2 years you will be missed from sal liccione

  2. I have known Velma since my days on the Board of Education starting in 1989. What a great career as an educator, administrator, and public servant. Velma is a person of great intelligence, judgment, and kindness. Good luck, Velma, in your next chapter!

  3. Clarinda "Rindy" Higgins

    Velma, thank you for service to the town as well as all your outstanding contributions in education from whence I first knew you. You will be very much missed but it sounds like a great time to be fully involved with your family.

  4. Kristan Hamlin

    Velma, Thank you for all the ways you have served your community, both as an educator, and a RTM member. Warmly, Kristan Hamlin, RTM #4

  5. Candice Savin

    As Board of Education Chair it has been my great pleasure to work with Velma in her role as RTM moderator. In particular Velma has been a source of sage advice over the years and a frequent partner in getting things done for the benefit of our Westport school community. Her impact on Westport has been positive and substantive. I will miss having her at the helm.

    Candice Savin, Chair of the Westport Board of Education

  6. Very nice Lady 🙏

  7. Kristin Schneeman

    Velma will be so sorely missed on the RTM. She was one of the first people I sought out when I was thinking about running for the RTM in district 9, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know and work with her. She has given me so much wisdom and encouragement, and she (as well as her family) has set a high bar for service to the town of Westport.

  8. Mark Friedman

    Velma, heartfelt gratitude for your decades of service to our community. It is a privilege & an inspiration to work with you in the RTM. Wishing you much joy & satisfaction in your next chapter!

  9. Jacque O'Brien

    Congratulations on your retirement from the RTM Velma! You have been a guide to so many children and adults over the years, and your service will be missed. Continue to enjoy your beautiful family and be well!

  10. Velma we go back a long way and I’ve always admired the way you handled so many situations. Your wonderful family awaits. You may be gone but will not be forgotten.

  11. Karol and Brian Brumit

    Thank you Velma! You always are supportive with kind words and a caring smile on your face! May you enjoy less meetings, business emails and phone calls!
    God bless!