As a lifelong Democrat, I am proud to support my friend, Jim Marpe, for first selectman.

Jim's time in both the private and public sectors has included many accomplishments -- senior partner in one of the world's leading management and technology consulting firms, years of tireless service on the Westport Board of Education, membership on numerous not-for-profit boards -- but, for me, at least as important as what Jim has done is how he has done it.

These days we seem to be polarized, focusing on our differences rather than on what unites us. We seem to be moving apart instead of coming together. And this makes it difficult to get things done, to find solutions for the challenges we collectively face.

Jim Marpe is the kind of leader we need. Jim believes that a strong leader must be a good listener. For Jim, leading does not mean imposing his solutions on others; it means taking into account what he has heard, considering different points of view and then trying to find common ground and build consensus for workable solutions to complex problems. Jim understands that a strong leader is both collaborative and decisive.

As first selectman Jim Marpe would welcome new and different ideas, so that together we could solve problems. Jim believes that our strengths as neighbors lie in our connections, not our divisions.

Steve Parrish