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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.