Marpe, fresh off big win for first selectman, preps for smooth Town Hall transition
Hours after Republican Jim Marpe won election as the town's next first selectman, he went to Town Hall on Wednesday morning to meet with department heads and employees.
"I wanted to meet and greet all those who make our government work and provide town services," he said Thursday.
After he's sworn in as the town's top elected official on Nov. 18, Marpe said he'll have a sit-down with every department head "to establish long-term objectives for each department."
He said he wants his administration to be "citizen-centric," meaning that "every citizen should have easy access to town services and help to understand the sometimes complex rules of government."
The first selectman-elect said a good example was the announcement Wednesday that the Planning and Zoning Department will expand its office hours to better accommodate residents. "That's a good example of making government more efficient and effective," he said.
A former executive with the global consulting firm Accenture, Marpe and running mate Avi Kaner handily won Tuesday's election, capturing 55 percent of the vote to 45 percent for Democrat Helen Garten and her running mate, Melissa Kane.
Marpe said he expects a "smooth transition" when he takes over the helm from current First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, who decided not to seek a third term.
"I met with Gordon yesterday morning and he is being very helpful in helping me understand the complexity of the job," Marpe said Thursday. "In fact, he will leave me a notebook with open items of things he didn't get completed."
Marpe, a former school board vice chairman, said he doesn't plan any immediate personnel changes, but added that he "may look to rethink the support organization around the first selectman."
As for his plans for his first day on the new job, Marpe said he'll sit down with the town's emergency management team. "I want to know what everyone's role is and to understand what's expected of everyone -- including me," he said.
Marpe said he hasn't met yet with Garten, the current Board of Finance vice chairwoman who, by town charter rules, will become the third selectman. She visited him briefly on election night at his victory party to congratulate him.
"She was very gracious in offering her congratulations to me and committing to work with me and Avi to make the new administration successful," he said referring to Kaner, who will become second selectman.
Marpe, in his Tuesday night victory speech at the Inn at Longshore, said the Republicans ran "a very professional, 21st-century campaign" that combined traditional campaign methods such as knocking on doors and lawn signs with the latest technology.
He said a selectman's job "is all about service" and noted the diversity of the town. He also said Westporters are "talented, creative and opinionated," something he realized during door-to-door campaigning.
Garten, 60, also has a long working relationship with Kaner on the Board of Finance, of which Kaner has been chairman the past two years.
Garten, a Princeton- and Harvard-educated lawyer, ran on a ticket with Kane, an RTM member active and education and arts organizations.
When the returns were in Tuesday night, Garten thanked supporters gathered at Democratic headquarters on Main Street.
"I'm humbled by all our support, and I'm humbled by all the help you gave me," she said. "We tried to stay positive. We tried to focus on the issues that were important to this town."
In rolling to victory, Marpe won in all nine of the town's voting districts, although by a single vote in District 9, the figures showed.
Official results released Wednesday found Marpe/Kaner received 4,316 votes to 3,458 for Garten/Kane.
Democrats maintained control of the Board of Education with the re-election of two of its incumbents. Democrats also swept three seats on the Planning and Zoning Commission, although Republicans will retain control that panel at least for the next two years.