WESTPORT, Conn. — It’s official: Westport Republican Jim Marpe will lead the town as the next first selectman. The former Board of Education vice chairman and his running mate, Avi Kaner, defeated Democrats Helen Garten and Melissa Kane in the selectmen’s race, putting an end to a 16-year Democratic rule.
Official results show team Marpe/Kaner received 4,316 votes, while Garten/Kane received 3,458.
"This is just a remarkable moment. It is more emotional than I ever expected it to be," Marpe told a room full of cheering supporters at the Inn at Longshore. "I am so humbled and honored at being chosen the leader of this town, and grateful that you see me fit to grant me that awesome responsibility."
Marpe, a 24-year Westport resident, was on the Board of Education from 2005 until last November, when he stepped down to pursue his bid for first selectman. During his eight-year tenure, he served as vice chairman for five years and briefly as acting chairman in 2012.
Marpe's professional background is in business. A graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, he is a retired senior partner from Accenture, a global management consulting and technology services company.
"As I walked door to door, from border to border, I relearned a simple truth: Westport is a very special place," Marpe said. "Yes, we have beautiful surroundings, great schools and amazing recreational amenities, but what really makes Westport special are the people."
Like Marpe, Kaner is a businessman. He owns a supermarket chain in New York City. In town, he has served on the Board of Finance for the past eight years and is currently the chairman.
In his victory speech, Kaner thanked residents for having "confidence in Jim and me."
Although Garten and Kane did not win the race, Garten will join Marpe and Kaner on the Board of Selectmen.
"The selectmen’s job is all about service” Marpe said. “It’s time now to switch from politics and the election campaign, to representing all the people and to focus on what we have in common, not what divides us.
"I have the utmost respect for Helen’s experience and skills, and look forward to working with her as a full partner in governing the town."
Marpe said he and Kaner will also enlist help from Kane.
In other races, Republican Jen Tooker won a seat on the Board of Finance. She was the only Republican candidate on the ballot. On the Democratic side, incumbent Brian Stern won re-election, and newcomer Lee Caney will join him.
In the Board of Education race, Republican Jeannie Smith, who was appointed to the board earlier this year, reclaimed her seat. Republican Karen Kleine will join Smith on the board. Republican Mike McGovern, the current board vice chairman, was not re-elected.
Smith and Kleine will be joined by Democrat Elaine Whitney, the board's current chairman, and her running mate Brett Aronow, who was appointed to the board earlier this year.
In the Probate Judge race, Republican Lisa Wexler was victorious over Democrat Kieran Costello.
In the Planning and Zoning race, Democratic candidates Alan Hodge, Andra Vebell and David Lessing won the three seats.
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