NEWSFLASH: First Selectman Jayme Stevenson to seek a fifth term as Darien's leader
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson told The Darien Times in an exclusive Wednesday she will be seeking a fifth term as Darien's leader in November.
Stevenson said she planned to speak with the Republican Town Committee on Wednesday night at its meeting and let them know she would be seeking their nomination.
Stevenson said she felt it was important to run again "because there is no more important time in Darien's history given the opportunities and challenges before us."
Opportunities she cited included the upcoming "historical" developments pending in Noroton Heights and downtown Darien's Corbin Drive project that will "change the face of Darien and how people will live and interact with our community in a positive way."
As for challenges, Stevenson said the new governor and legislature and several proposed bills requires "experienced leadership."
Stevenson said the many relationships she's cultivated over the last decade locally, regionally and state-wide will be a "tremendous benefit to the people and businesses of Darien."
"The things that are happening now require calm, experienced leadership at helm," she said, adding she would be "honored" to have the support of voters in November.
Stevenson first earned a seat on the Board of Selectmen in 2009 along with fellow Republicans David Campbell as first selectman and Jerry Nielsen as selectman. She first ran successfully for first selectman in 2011. In 2017, Stevenson was challenged by Democratic fellow Selectmen Rob Richards. Stevenson beat Richards by a margin of 2470 votes to 944 — her opponent was the lowest vote getter in the election and as a result, lost his seat on the board to fellow Democrats Pamela Sparkman, a newcomer, and incumbent Marc Thorne.
Darien Democrats have not yet made an public announcement on possible candidates for first selectman or selectmen for November.
Specifically citing challenges facing the town, Stevenson said pending legislation and "changes we're seeing to possible government structure."
"Efforts to regionalize services and districts and make school districts financially independent from the town — these are all weighty issues. They require a thorough analysis of both intended and unintended impacts, and how we can keep Darien the premier community that its taken generations to become, in spite of pressures from the state of Connecticut," she said.
Stevenson said Darien does an "exceptionally good job trying to manage high quality government and educational services in a cost effective manner, without state intrusions."
"Some of these proposals will really take that control away from us. You will need experienced professionals for that process to push back and advocate for our residents and our businesses. We're not just going to roll over for the state of Connecticut," Stevenson said.
As far as the response she's received when she's mentioned she intends to run again, Stevenson said its been a positive and sometimes relieved reaction.
Stevenson pointed to her experience in government agencies outside of Darien, including serving as chairman of the local Council of Governments and becoming chairman in April of the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency.
"These have positioned me to be a very strong voice for Darien beyond our borders — that's essential at this point in time," she said.
Stevenson added that her choice to run again wasn't made lightly.
"I made that decision based on input from many different people I counseled with. I am elected to serve Darien, not myself or my self interest. I would not be running again if I got a different answer," she said.
Stevenson said her family, which includes her husband, five children and one granddaughter, has been very supportive — especially her husband.
"He is very supportive. He understands the importance of having experienced leadership at this point in time. There's truth that's its a family sacrifice and he's willing to stand beside me for another term," she said.
"I'm grateful, I couldn't do it without him," she said.
Part of her continued goal, should she earn another term, is to work with her Board of Selectmen colleagues and fellow elected officials in a "very non-partisan way."
"Given all of the partisan politics on the state and national level, I think people appreciate it. That's what tax payers want of local officials — to drop the partisanship and get the job done for them," she said.
Stevenson added that all of her fellow selectmen have made "significant contributions to the board's work and I hope our work product shows it."
Stevenson added that she continues to want to hear from Darien residents on what issues and concerns they may have. She can be reached at 203-656-7338 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .