First Selectman Jim Marpe has hired his former campaign manager, Bob Zappi, as the town's operations manager with an annual salary of $125,000.

Marpe, who is paid $101,000 a year as the town's chief executive, said Zappi's salary is "commensurate with other similar positions in other towns" and is "at the mid-point for department heads" at Town Hall.

He said Zappi's role will be to assist him in working with town department heads on various matters -- like the annual budget -- and to increase oversight of town operations. Zappi's job is similar to a chief of staff, Marpe said Friday.

"He will work on executing the strategies and goals that I have laid out," Marpe said, adding the "authority" of running the government "still resides with me."

"I'm excited about working with Jim and implementing his agenda," Zappi said.

He said being hired for a town job was not a topic of discussion with Marpe during the campaign. "I can't say we talked about it directly," Zappi said. "But as we were getting closer to election, we knew (Marpe) would need help to implement his agenda" if he won Nov. 5.

"The town charter specifies this operations role and, in fact, the position was occupied in prior administrations," Marpe said, noting the last operations manager served during First Selectman Joe Arcudi's administration, who was the last Republican before Marpe to hold the post.

He said many of the neighboring towns have similar administrative positions, although with different titles.

Former First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, who did not seek re-election this year, did not have an operations manager during his eight years in office. He declined to comment on Zappi's hiring when reached by telephone Friday.

"We are very fortunate to have a person with his knowledge and dedication to Westport," Marpe said about Zappi. "A 25-year resident, Bob has deep roots in the community," he added.

"As a business executive, Bob's track record spans 30 years helping Fortune 500 companies enhance their organization and operations during transitional periods," he added. "He has a unique ability and understanding of the rhythms and needs of our residents."

He said the Marpe/Kaner Election Campaign, which Zappi managed, was "a professionally organized and led effort with an agenda that resonated with many Westporters."

Marpe also announced that Eileen Francis would be promoted to the First Selectman office manager, "effective immediately."

He said Francis has been in the office since August, training under Pat Scully, who recently retired after 32 years of service to the town.