WESTPORT, Conn. – Longtime Westport resident Jim Marpe, acting chairman of the Board of Education, has his sights set on becoming the town’s next first selectman.
Marpe, a Republican, is so far the only person to announce his candidacy for the selectman’s race. First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, a Democrat in his second term, has not yet announced whether he is seeking re-election.
Marpe, who was elected to the school board in 2005, this week announced his candidacy in next year’s race for first selectman. He will resign from the Board of Education at Monday night’s meeting, he said.
The decision to step down was not an easy one, Marpe said. But after nearly eight years of service, he said it’s time for him to give back to the Westport community on a larger scale.
“I’ve had what I think has been a successful career on the Board of Education,” Marpe, a 23-year town resident, said Thursday. “There’s never a good time to step away, but I sense the town-side of Westport is struggling more than the schools, and that it’s my calling now to make sure our entire community stays great, not just good.”
Marpe is no stranger to leadership positions. During his seven-and-a-half years on the school board, he served as vice chairman for five. He has been acting chairman since August, when former Chairman Don O’Day resigned.
Another major leadership role Marpe plays in Westport is as chairman of the Westport Weston Family Y's Board of Trustees. He also spent six years on the Board of Directors for Homes With Hope, a Westport nonprofit that provides supportive housing for the homeless, and is a former president of Green's Farms Church. He also spent seven years as the chairman of the Stamford Symphony Orchestra's Board of Directors.
Marpe’s professional background is rooted in business. He worked 32 years with Accenture, a global management consulting and computer technology services firm. He retired in 2002 as a senior partner.
“The skills I’ve learned in my professional experience, my experience working with nonprofits and my experience on the Board of Education can all be applied in the selectman’s office to finding solutions to various challenges,” Marpe said.
As first selectman, he said he would work to improve the town’s commercial tax base through economic development and overall land use planning; address the town’s long-term debt, and pension and retirement benefit obligations; and work to initiate a long-term infrastructure improvement plan that address issues such as extended power outages, flood- and wind-related storm damage, railroad parking and senior housing.
Although the selectman’s race is a year away, Marpe said he wants to get a jump start on meeting with as many residents as he can to “hear what’s on their minds.” Plus, his resignation from the school board allows it enough time to find someone to fill his position, he said.