First Selectman Jayme Stevenson to seek fourth term
Updated 1:08 pm, Wednesday, June 14, 2017
DARIEN — First Selectman Jayme Stevenson will seek a fourth term in the town’s top position, after delaying the announcement until the town’s budget had passed.
“I just wanted to be free of that town budget work before I turned my attention to the more political things because I really try to separate politics from the work that I do here in town,” Stevenson said on Monday.
Should she receive the nomination of the Republican Town Committee (RTC) at their July 18 candidate caucus and be re-elected, this term would be Stevenson’s fourth — which was a factor in making her decision whether or not to run.
“I strongly believe in term limits. There aren’t any. So I weighed that in my mind. I think it’s really important for people in public service to look yourself in the mirror and know when it’s time to walk away, or if there’s still more work to be done that you feel as though you can help facilitate,” Stevenson said.
Ongoing budgetary woes in Hartford, and their still unknown consequences on municipalities like Darien, and the anticipation of an especially difficult budget year in 2018 are among the reasons that Stevenson wants to stay on.
Gov. Dannel Malloy’s plan to shift the burden of teacher’s pensions to local municipalities and the erasure of school funding to affluent communities like Darien opened up the possibility this winter the town could owe the state in the ballpark of $4.5 million. While the number has fluctuated and is still not set in stone, Stevenson said she believes Darien could be on the hook for the governor’s originally stated amount.
“Everything is still on the table,” Stevenson said. “I think the worst case scenario is still possible, from our perspective.”
With that in mind, Stevenson has her eye toward the future of the town and said that she hopes to build on past successes and addresses future snags with a staff that Stevenson has continued to improve since she took office.
“We’ve always had a great, dedicated staff here that has only gotten better over my tenure. And I think people see that in the work product,” Stevenson said, listing the group she’s helped to surround herself with as one of her proudest accomplishments in her six-year tenure.
Land preservation, too, is an area in which she feels the town has thrived under her watch, specifically with the purchase of parcels of land on Hoyt Street, Short Lane, and the recent acquisition of a 16-acre parcel formerly belonging to the Ox Ridge Hunt Club, a move she called “tremendous for the future of our town.”
In-town paramedics, working with utility partners like Eversource to bring gas into town, facilitating the drafting of a new Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) that was the forerunner to the town’s new redevelopment projects are among the accomplishments of which Stevenson said she is most proud.
Stevenson also noted her involvement as chairman of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, which is a regional organization focuses on transportation, and WestCOG, a regional council of governments, and the ways in which, through her involvement, both organizations have benefited the town.
“I”m pleased to be right in the middle of that so that I can make sure that we’re always preserving local control while at the same time leveraging how the region can benefit us, help us create efficiencies in ways that make sense,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson was born in Reading, Penn., and has lived in Darien with her husband, John, since 1991. They have five children. In each of the past three elections, Stevenson has won by wide margins.
This past legislative session, Stevenson was an outspoken advocate for Darien, making trips up to Hartford to voice her dissent on a proposal to regionalize health departments and her support for bills that would provide better labeling on prescription pill bottles.
Asked whether she’d consider seeking higher office at the state level, Stevenson said hasn’t ruled anything out, but has no specific plans.
“I would always keep my mind open to a position where I felt as though I knew that I could add value, whether it’s here in Darien or at the state [level], or beyond,” Stevenson said. “I haven’t thought about it beyond that point, but I’ll always keep my mind open to it.”