Darien Republicans pick Monica McNally as first selectman candidate

DARIEN — The Republican Town Committee has endorsed Monica McNally as its candidate to replace longtime First Selectman Jayme Stevenson.

McNally defeated Joe Warren Thursday during the GOP caucus at Town Hall.

Board of Education Vice Chairwoman Debra Ritchie, a four-year member of the school board, did not receive the GOP nomination, losing to incumbent Dave Brown and newcomer Tara Wurm for the two open seats.

In the November election, McNally will likely face Democrat Tara Ochman, a former Board of Education chairwoman.

“I am honored to be the Republican candidate for first selectman and to have the opportunity to build on the legacy established by Jayme Stevenson and her team over the last 12 years,” said McNally, who less than two months ago was appointed to the Board of Selectmen to fill a vacancy after being a member of the Representative Town Meeting.

She will join uncontested Board of Selectmen candidates Marcy Minnick, an RTM member, and Jon Zagrodsky, the Board of Finance chairman, on the ballot in November.

More than 220 Republicans cast votes in the caucus, with McNally receiving 188 and Warren 26.

For the Board of Education nominations, Brown received the most votes with 164, Wurm received 156 and Ritchie 90.

“It’s a great turnout,” RTC Chair Alex Davidson said. “There’s a tremendous amount of enthusiasm.”

Concerns about local zoning control potentially being usurped by the state, and disagreements over COVID-related school regulations from the state, prompted more people to participate this year, Davidson said.

“These issues have really brought people out who were previously not politically involved,” he said.

Stevenson, who announced last month that she would not seek reelection, made the nominating speech for McNally.

“Monica knows that the work ahead requires her steady, thoughtful, experienced hand,” Stevenson said. “She understands that focused listening to all stakeholders is foundational to making sound decisions that stand the test of time.”

Stevenson also acknowledged the work of her fellow Selectman Kip Koons, who will not be running again.

State Rep. Terrie Wood, R-141, gave the nominating speech for Minnick, describing her as having strong principles, passionate and knowledgeable about public policy.

“She is a gifted listener and a natural problem solver,” Wood said, “and will bring many strengths to her responsibilities as a selectman.”

Other uncontested candidates on the GOP slate include Planning and Zoning Commission incumbents Steve Olvaney and Jim Rand, Board of Finance incumbents Rob Cardone and Paul Hendrickson, along with newcomer John Wolcott, Board of Assessment Appeals incumbent Chris Peters, and Town Clerk Christa McNamara.

“I’m thrilled that our slate was ratified — that our Republicans agreed with us,” Davidson said.