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Darien elects Stevenson as first selectman

Updated 5:48 pm, Thursday, November 10, 2011

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  • Republicans Jayme Stevenson, Jerry Nielsen and Dave Campbell celebrate at RTC headquarters. Photo: Jeanna Petersen Shepard
    Republicans Jayme Stevenson, Jerry Nielsen and Dave Campbell celebrate at RTC headquarters. Photo: Jeanna Petersen Shepard

 

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The Republicans managed to hold onto their majority as Jayme Stevenson fended off challenges from Democrat John Lundeen and Ultra-Conservative Chris Noe to win the first selectman spot vacated by David Campbell.

Stevenson walked away from Tuesday's election with 3,078 votes, while Lundeen garnered 1,525 votes and Noe received 63 votes.

Stevenson won the nomination for first selectman after Campbell decided to step down at the end of his two-year term. Stevenson campaigned on a platform of fiscal responsibility and a promise to make the shuffle project a reality.

Stevenson said she was thrilled with the results of Tuesday's election but would have liked to have seen more people vote.

"It was unfortunate turnout wasn't a little better but a 2-1 win is very exciting and it just confirms the people are happy with our style of leadership," she said.

Overall, Stevenson said she had fun campaigning for first selectman and acknowledged the shuffle project added a layer of complexity to the process.

"The shuffle issue made it a little more complicated but most everybody I spoke with has given positive feedback with the direction of the town."

Stevenson said she was particularly proud of running a clean and positive campaign. "I think people appreciate that we ran such a clean campaign,"she said.

As she prepares to assume the mantle of first selectman, Stevenson said there are a few aspects of the job she needs to learn.

"I spent the morning [Wednesday] in the first selectman's office filling out paperwork and contacting David Bayne and John [Lundeen] to find out when they are available for a swearing in ceremony," she said. "I'm also pulling together information for John so he can get up to speed to jump into things when we meet."

Stevenson also added that like First Selectman Dave Campbell, she would have an open door policy and encouraged anyone to stop by and chat.

"I'm always available and willing to talk."

Although the outcome wasn't what Democratic candidate for first selectman John Lundeen was looking for, he said the overall experience of campaigning was a positive one.

"On the whole it was a very positive experience and I had the chance to meet a lot of new people and really engage with them on a host of issues," he said. "Campaigning is an intense and exhausting experience because there are many early mornings and late nights.

As the results came in after the polls closed, Lundeen said he had very little time to wonder how the night would play out.

"The results were so quickly turned around and they were what they were and not that surprising given the registration numbers," he said.

Even though he lost his bid for the first selectman seat he was unable to grab a seat on the Board of Selectmen.

"I'm definitely planning on being a positive and engaged member and I'm glad to offer my experience," he said. "I would hope with my background in budget analysis, environmental issues and transportation I will be able to help with those issues."

Ultra-Conservative candidate for first selectman Chris Noe was equally disappointed with the results but was not overly surprised at the outcome.

"It was very predictable. The only thing I'm really disappointed with is the shuffle project because that is a blunder," Noe said.

Despite only getting 63 votes, Noe said there was the possibility he would consider running again in two years.

"It was good to make my own party but the reality is that I need to bring a full slate," he said.

Noe had initially considered bringing in both a Republican and a Democrat but after realizing they were too firmly entrenched in their parties, he decided against it. Now that the election is over, Noe, whose term in the Representative Town Meeting ended, will spend the winter in Florida.

"The whole experience was fun. It was fun doing the debates and not everybody has the stomach for campaigning and I'm not sure I do, but when you get out there it's like you're living on the edge," he said.

Stevenson was optimistic about the election during the day, although she acknowledged some people may have preferred to go to the beach rather than vote due to the mild weather.

"I'm doing great and it's just a beautiful day, so I hope everyone comes out and votes. It may be a toss-up between going to vote or going to the beach today," she said. "I've been to all of the polls this morning and everyone is really happy to be out exercising their right to vote."

Democratic Candidate for first selectman John Lundeen was chosen by the Democrats during their caucus in late July. Lundeen cited his experience with the Carter and Regan administrations working as a budget analysts as reasons why he would make a strong candidate for first selectman. He promised to use taxpayer money wisely while also addressing issues, such as sidewalks on Hoyt Street, that had yet to receive any attention.

Lundeen said he didn't have a lot of feeling about the election but hoped more people would turn out to vote.

Ultra-Conservative candidate for first selectman Chris Noe made a second bid for the first selectman position after garnering only 48 votes during a run two years ago. Noe believed he should be elected because he would break up the Democratic and Republican majority and would force both sides to work together to improve the town. As a demonstration of his conservative beliefs, Noe released his campaign expenses which included $10 for a web domain name, $60 for web hosting and $120 for 12 T-shirts for a total of a $190.

During the election Noe voiced some concern with the low voter turnout but expressed his hope that people would choose him to break the Republican and Democratic majority on the Board of Selectmen.

"First of all the voting is very light but I feel good. I feel like I won all three debates but now it's in the hands of the people to decide and I hope they vote for me," Noe said.

Stevenson will sit on the board with selectmen Jerry Nielsen, Campbell, Lundeen and Democrat David Bayne.