Thank You, Jim Marpe!

This is Jim Marpe’s final day as 1st selectman.

Tonight at 7:30, Jen Tooker will be sworn in as Westport’s 1st selectwoman. She was Marpe’s deputy for the past 4 years, but she’ll bring a new style and tone — and perhaps some new policies — to the job.

Yet before Marpe hands over his key (or swipe card, or however else he gets into Town Hall), let’s pause and say “thanks!”

Jim Marpe, at last May’s Memorial Day parade. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

Thank you, Jim, for coming out of retirement — after a career at Accenture — to bring your managerial and organizational skills to Westport.

Thank you for overseeing every aspect of town — business and residential; police, fire and EMS; transportation; recreation, and so much more — with professionalism and expertise. You always had the best interests of our community at heart.

Thank you for handling too many weather emergencies — blizzards, wind storms, nor’easters, Isaias — with calmness and competence.

Thank you for handling the biggest emergency of all — COVID — well too. We were one of the nation’s first super-spreaders. No leader anywhere knew exactly what to do. An early decision to close the beach created a huge backlash. But the virus never spiraled out of control here. Eighteen months later, we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In early March 2020, 1st Selectman Marpe convened a panel at the Westport Library to discuss the coming threat of COVID. Mask wearing had not yet become mandatory. Four days later, Marpe shut the town down.

Thank you for keeping our mill rate so stable. The state and nation has been whipsawed by economic volatility. But throughout the Marpe administration, our taxes have been remarkably low. (Don’t believe me? Ask friends in neighboring towns — or Westchester or Long Island.)

The first selectman does not have direct control over education. But thank you for your previous service on the Board of Education. Our school district is in great shape. Thank you for all you have done to keep it that way.

Thank you for being always present, all the time. You joked about the oversized scissors you bring to every new store and restaurant ribbon cutting. But your presence touched every part of Westport.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe (2nd from left) proclaims Pizza Month in Westport.

You were there for so many of my own events: our annual “06880” party at Compo, and Staples boys soccer team car washes and banquets (even though it’s across the border, at the Norwalk Inn).

Many other Westporters have been heartened by your presence too, at their concerts, plays, fundraisers, ceremonies, meetings, you name it. Your presence meant a lot, to all of us.

Police Chief Foti Koskinas, First Selectman Jim Marpe and organizer Andy  Berman bang out pushups at a charity event.

I did not agree with all of your decisions. No one ever does. (Probably not even your wife and constant supporter, Mary Ellen.)

But you always listened carefully, to all your constituents. You treated us all with respect, no matter what our point of view or political party.

Politicians in Washington and Hartford could learn a lot from what you’ve done in Westport. We are a better town for your service.

I’m glad you’re not going anywhere (other than to spend more time with your grandson). I look forward to seeing you around town — and at the “06880” picnic.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe at the 2018 “06880” party.

PS: It may seem that Jim Marpe never took a vacation. But every once in a while, he snuck away. A couple of years ago, he went on a Tauck Tour to Alaska. Robin Tauck was on the cruise. I thought that would make a great story.

But Jim asked me not to say anything. He didn’t want people to know he was not available here, 24/7/365. Now it can be told. 

37 responses to “Thank You, Jim Marpe!

  1. A few years back, Jim Marpe, together with Melissa Kane, testified at the state capitol in Hartford for matters of gun safety legislation. I know because I sat next to him as I waited to provide testimony on behalf of the LWV of CT. Thanks Jim!

  2. I’d like to add my thanks. We are indeed fortunate to have people like Jim living in Westport and willing to devote the time and energy to make it a better place. Good luck in retirement Jim.
    I feel certain Jen will continue his efforts.

    • Thanks for being the kind of leader we wish we had from the local to the national level! And thanks for helping keep Westport friendly and professional!

  3. Thank you Jim Marpe for your leadership, devotion, and everything you have done for the people of Westport. The foundations you built will be enjoyed for generations to come. It is an honor to be your friend.

  4. Thank you Jim. The fact that you would put on a jacket and tie, and sit in the woods on a 90 degree Saturday in the middle of the day to be there to honor our boys as they became Eagle Scouts says it all. No press no ribbon to cut no photo opportunity, just a simple remark “I wouldn’t miss this, it’s important .” Via con Dios! Thank you for all you do

  5. Thx Jim! Your steady command during turbulent times says so much about your leadership – and what true leadership can be!!

  6. For the first 2 years i knew him, i had no idea if he was a Republican or a Democrat. He is an American and a Wesportian. What a genuine great human and awesome leader of town. Westport sets the example for greatness. Thank you for your service Jim Marpe!!!!

  7. Robert Harrington

    Thanks Jim for everything that you have done for Westport. We will all benefit from your leadership for years to come. The way you stepped forward behind the scenes after the Coleytown Middle School closure, to ensure different groups all got on the same page, and to help move the whole town forward will not be forgotten. Also thanks for being prepared to speak out and stand on the right side of so many important issues. Thank you for your service!

  8. Jim – Even when you were under no obligation to say anything at all, you chose to be the first “member of the public” to show up to support our toughest P&Z decisions in the midst of really contentious public hearings. You have been a terrific partner of the P&Z Commission and the Affordable Housing Subcommittee. Thank you for all of the support and encouragement…and for always being a Staples Players superfan. Looking forward to working with Jen & Andrea but I will really miss you!

  9. Many thanks especially for the way you handled—including keeping everyone informed—the Covid crisis.

  10. Thank you Jim for being a friend of Westport. Those of us fortunate enough to serve as elected officials in our community got a first hand look at a Westporter who showed leadership by example with humble grace. It didn’t matter what crisis confronted Westport, you were always there to support our exceptional town employees and support the many social concerns of our residents. You always deflected credit to others, today my friend we salute you for a job well done. Westport is a better place today for your service and leadership.

  11. Some of the best things about you, Jim, are that you are so personable, remembering peoples’ names, listening, answering each email and concern.
    I not only felt the community at large mattered to you but also each person individually! Thank YOU, Jim.

  12. Job well done. Thank you for everything.

  13. Katie Parker Augustyn

    Thanks so much, Jim, for everything you’ve done for so many people, and for being who you are!

  14. Thank you Mr. Marpe for all that you have done for Westport. You brought a business persons perspective to managing the Town. However one of the best things you did was to make sure you had a successor in place to carry on the your vision and keep your legacy in the forefront of many things that will be done in and for the Town.

  15. Well done! Thank you so much Jim.

  16. Dan, well put on Jim Marpe’s exemplary leadership. Good luck to Jen.

  17. These ARE the good old days. Thanks, Jim, for making them even better!

  18. Mr. Marpe was a rare example of an elected official who actually produced something for his constituents. Because of his aptitude and hard work our community has been enhanced. Think about that the next time you go to the polls…Don’t vote for for a “political party” but DO vote for a capable leader.

  19. Thank you for overseeing the town’s response to COVID-19; an important job well done.

  20. Dan, What a thoughtful, meaningful, and beautiful tribute to Jim Marpe on this last day of his official service as First Selectman.

    Jim, Thank you for setting an example of calm leadership that we hope all future leaders will emulate. And thank you for the time and the devotion with which you dedicated yourself to our family’s “home town,” service for which you will surely be well-remembered. Best of luck to you and your family, and may you receive at least as much goodness as you have given.

  21. Jim has without any doubt set the framework for a meaningful and forward looking administration. We are truly fortunate for his leadership.

  22. Thank you, Jim, for your outstanding service as First Selectman. You were always there for our community in every way and were an amazing leader. You will be missed! All the best to you in your richly-deserved retirement!

  23. I have had the privilege of working with Jim at both the DMA and at Homes with Hope. Thank you for loving and supporting this town and for being “the most interesting first selectman in the world.”

  24. Thank you Jim, for your caring, wisdom, compassion, and leadership over your many years of service, but particularly during your 2 terms as our First Selectman! We are all better off because of your presence in Westport.

  25. Thank you Jim for being a calm intelligent force. You got Westport through some unprecedented tough times . Enjoy every moment of your retirement.

  26. Thank you so much for your love of and dedication to the town and people of Westport!!!!

  27. KATHRYN E OREARDON

    Thanks for all you’ve done!

  28. Thank you Jim! Not just for you calm leadership, but for listening to the many views brought forward . Its been quite an interesting time in our town and country but you led us through with a steady hand. Now enjoy your family and finally your retirement!

  29. As fabulous a professional as he is a human being! We were so blessed by his steady hand. Go out there Jim and have yourself a blast! You beyond deserve it.

  30. Jennifer Rankine

    Thank you for your leadership and dedication to Westport and its residents! Cheers!

  31. I thank you, Jim, for helping Westporters to navigate such hard times, and for standing up for so many good things: the Farm, school-building safety, the Library transformation, and town arts particularly. All best to you and your family in the future!

  32. So much has already been said about Jim’s steady leadership through these difficult times. Attentive, respectful, intelligent, gracious and always even keeled. Given the unfortunate growth of aggressive political personas in our national government, we have been very fortunate indeed to have had this gentleman at our helm. You will be missed. Now go have some fun!!

  33. Jim,

    As I am reading the comments, without trying to repeat what everyone has said but completely agree with your career success and accomplishments in the last 8 years as the CEO of our town, your leadership is inspiring.

    You didn’t run as a Republican. You ran as a Westporter. A Westporter who led the town fiscally putting the majority of the people of Westport first, not party, not politics, just people.

    The position you held, Jesuit like in that you had to be well rounded and versed in all departments and organizations within the town and beyond, constantly on the go and ready to listen and execute was instant and above and beyond.

    I hope to be as great of a leader as you and the colleagues I serve on town boards with. From Parks and Recreation Commission, Board of Finance, Board of Education, RTM, and subcommittees, you were well liked and respected by all and supported for your decisions. And even if one did not agree with you, they still respected you.

    I wish you the best of fun and relaxation with your family and grandson.

  34. Jim was a very solid First Selectman and deserves the many above accolades. I also take this opportunity to focus on projects begun but which we hope will see finality under the Tooker/Moore Administration. Those include the Dredging of the Saugatuck River, the implementation of plans for Parker Harding and Jessup Green as generally set forth in the Downtown Plan, a decision as to Baron’s South and the implementation of that decision, a successful preservation of all of the key elements of the Cribari Bridge and quite possibly a better Town/School Administrative structure to maintain all Town and School buildings. Certain elected officials have suggested a Town Facilities Director. If that were to occur, that office should also look into the Police Station. I think it needs some work. The needs of the Fire Department are also important.
    Don Bergmann

  35. Thank you, Jim for your remarkable years of service to our community.
    Wishing you & Mary Ellen many years of good health and joy in your new career as grandparents!

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