With the Baywater Properties, Federal Realty and Palmer redevelopment projects, Darien is “on the eve of historic and transformational change,” First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said.

“Having leaders who are pragmatic, collaborative and sensitive to the impacts of this change on our community is critical to facilitating the best possible outcome,” said Stevenson, a Republican who’ll be seeking a fifth term as the town government’s chief executive and administrator in November. She’ll be running against Unaffiliated candidate Chris Noe.

Stevenson said she’s running for a fifth term “to help manage these changes and the community opportunities that will arise from the redevelopment projects.”

Over her tenure on the Board of Selectmen, she said she has “cultivated the experience and trusted relationships necessary to serve and protect the interests” of residents, businesses and community at large.

Accomplishments

Stevenson credits her team in helping to achieve Darien’s goals.

“It’s true that it takes a village — a dedicated team of public servants and town employees to achieve our community goals,” she said. “Our team has been able to limit tax increases in spite of an anemic state economy and pressures to shoulder more of the state’s fiscal burdens.”

She also spoke of recent changes in Darien’s schools, relationships with nonprofits, and affordable senior housing.

“We’ve hired and promoted exceptional municipal staff and have prioritized investments in public and school safety, infrastructure, land acquisition and sustainability initiatives,” she said. “We’ve supported the hiring of an SRO for Middlesex Middle School; we’ve brought natural gas to town; partnered with community nonprofits to improve our parks and beaches; supported the redevelopment of affordable housing for our seniors; and we are making important capital investments in our schools.”

Greatest challenges

Limiting reliance on financial support from the state was one challenge addressed by Stevenson.

“Maintaining our long history of fiscal discipline will help ensure we limit our reliance on financial support from the State of Connecticut, and will provide stability and predictability to our taxpayers,” she said.

She also expressed dislike for regionalization in regard to government services.

“Legislative pressure to ‘regionalize’ government services, in spite of weak evidence to support cost savings for Darien taxpayers, has the potential to impact local decision-making,” she said.

Establishing strong relationships and dialogues with leaders is also important to Stevenson, she said.

“Having a first selectman who sits at the table with regional and state decision makers gives Darien a strong voice in the conversation,” she said.

She added that “open and collaborative dialogue” among town boards and staff “has the potential to yield opportunities to save money through shared services.”

In addition, Stevenson said prioritizing investments in commuter, pedestrian, and bicyclist amenities will “make life more enjoyable for our residents.”

She said she feels very positive about Darien’s future.

“The commercial developments will bring new housing choices, shops, restaurants, office space options, community gathering places and jobs,” she said. “Thoughtful redevelopment will ensure that Darien continues to be the best town in which to raise a family and own and operate a business.”

About Stevenson

Stevenson has lived in Darien since 1991 with her husband John of 32 years. She grew up in Reading, Pa., and graduated from Arizona State University with a B.S. in telecommunication and business management from the Walter Cronkite School of Communication. She has five children and one granddaughter.

In regard to what one might not know about Stevenson, in 2018, she was a primary candidate for lieutenant governor.

“In spite of my loss, having the opportunity to travel our beautiful and very diverse state listening to the hopes and concerns of Connecticut residents and business owners taught me invaluable leadership lessons and what role government should (and shouldn’t) play in people’s lives,” she said.

sfox@darientimes