Stevenson looking forward to second term
Published 11:21 am, Saturday, October 26, 2013
The past two years have gone by quickly for First Selectman Jayme Stevenson.
"It's extremely hard to believe that we are on the eve of another election," Stevenson said inside her office in Town Hall. "Two years is generally a short period of time when you think about the process of decision-making and town government."
Having said that, Stevenson, who is running unopposed Nov. 5 for a second term, believes the town has had a "busy and extremely positive" two years.
Stevenson said she was proud of the near completion of the "shuffle" -- moving the Board of Education offices to the old town library at 35 Leroy Ave. and the senior center from the Edgerton Street property to Town Hall -- and how often votes in front of the Board of Selectmen were unanimous.
She also considers the implementation of single-stream recycling to be a "win for everyone" in town.
"It's a powerful example of collaborative working," Stevenson said.
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Over the course of the last year, the amount of single-stream recycling has doubled from 151 tons recycled in May 2012 to 309 tons recycled in May 2013, according to data from the Transfer Station Advisory Committee. The single-stream campaign was launched in May 2012 after the advisory committee indicated that the purpose of single-stream recycling was to increase recycling in town. Recycling is a state-mandated law.
In addition to Stevenson, none of the selectmen candidates is facing any challengers. While it may be a sort of stress-relief for candidates who do not need to campaign leading up to the election, there is a downside for the residents of Darien, according to Stevenson.
"I believe that it's much better for the residents to have a contested campaign because it makes them aware of the issues and allows for robust debate about the issues," Stevenson said.
But she's not complaining.
"For me, personally, it allows me to continue to focus on my job, rather than campaigning. And I always worried about that leading up to this race. I was very uncomfortable moving into a candidate role while still doing my job as first selectman because I don't like politics to interfere with government management."
Stevenson said that's just who she is. She considers herself an idealist.
"Most people don't believe me when I say this, but I'm really not a politician," she said. "I don't want the electorate to perceive me as a politician, so I'm very happy that I just get to continue to do my job and I don't have to be out selling myself."
Stevenson, a Pennsylvania native, has lived in Darien with her husband, John, who grew up in Darien, since 1991. They have five children who went through the Darien schools. She attended Albright College, where she studied psychology and biology, but graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in telecommunications and business.
She has served as the president of the Darien Nature Center board of directors, chairman of the Darien High School Parent Teacher Organization, co-chairman of the Royle Elementary School PTO, and as co-president of the Darien Depot. She also served on the DHS guidance advisory council, the Thriving Youth Connected Community Communication Committee and the Community Fund Allocation Committee.
Moving forward, Stevenson said the town is looking to seek a second moratorium on affordable housing in the town. The town currently has a moratorium with the state that states all developers will have to follow the town's zoning laws. The first four-year moratorium was sought in 2010.
Though the town budget is roughly 25 percent of the overall municipal budget, Stevenson said she is proud of the financial scrutiny starting at the department level.
"We feel very confident that we support what we need to support," Stevenson said, all while "making sure we balance taxpayers' expectations and needs with an appropriate level of spending.
"The spirit that I want to move forward in my next two years is teamwork, collaboration, nonpartisan -- absolutely nonpartisan -- because I will always admit, with rare exception, that partisan politics should play no role in local government," Stevenson said. "My issues are your issues are everybody else's issues, regardless of your party."
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