First Selectman Jayme Stevenson announced Wednesday night that she’ll be leaving office after 10 years at the head of Darien’s town government: She won’t be running for a sixth term.
Early Wednesday evening, Stevenson sent out a news release titled: “Jayme Stevenson, Darien’s First Selectman, will not seek 6th term.”
She concluded the announcement by saying: “For me, I’m closing this chapter. As new doors open, there may be different ways for me to continue to show my love and commitment to our incredible town. It’s been a privilege of a lifetime to serve as your first selectman for the past decade. Thank you, Darien! #BlueWavePride”
After losing a race for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in 2018, Stevenson said she still had ambitions for higher office, but in her announcement the only hint of that was the “may be different ways” statement above.
The news release didn’t mention the numerous initiatives Stevenson promoted or lent support for while in office, including the town’s shopping bag ordinance, implementing part of the “Shuffle” of town offices that moved various town agencies to new locations, promotion of sidewalks and measures to keep streets safe, getting paramedics working with Darien EMS-Post 53 relocated from Stamford to Darien. She supported projects to replace a large portion of downtown and the Noroton Heights business district with large projects proposed by developers who owned the land.
When Stevenson decided to support an initiative proposed by others in town, she sometimes modified it or worked with others who modified it, as with the bag ordinance and efforts to get paramedics based in town.
Stevenson also led the town through severe snowstorms, multiple hurricanes that left many residents without power for many days, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Stevenson and other elected officials kept enough restraint on town spending to minimize tax increases and sometimes avoid increases in the tax burden generated by the non-education part of the town budget (roughly a third of the whole).
Full Text of Stevenson’s Announcement
Sent to Darienite.com at 7:26 p.m.:
Jayme Stevenson, Darien’s First Selectman, will not seek 6th term
For 30 years, Darien has been my family’s home. My husband grew up here and I’ve lived here longer than any other place. I consider Darien to be where our roots are and the place that gave my five children their wings.
In 2009, I cared deeply enough about our community to step into the arena of political service to the town. Today, I reflect proudly on all we’ve achieved together, with your support, in the 12 years I’ve served on the Board of Selectman — 10 of those as your town and team leader.
There are too many meaningful projects completed and problems solved to mention here but in the big picture, what I’m most proud of are the people who work tirelessly to support our residents and businesses — our employees, the hundreds of board and commission volunteers and community support and faith organizations who are the strong threads of the fabric of our everyday lives.
We are fortunate to have the most skilled professionals in our Darien Police Department, volunteer EMS and fire service keeping us well-protected as well as a dedicated town staff ready to help. I’m deeply grateful for the partnership of my Board of Selectmen colleagues and collaborations with other town boards over the past 12 years. I always championed doing what was right — not what was easy or politically expedient.
Stewardship, vision, building trusted relationships, financial discipline and understanding the foundational importance of educating our children well are the core values upon which I set my leadership compass. Albeit my greatest daily challenge, I never wavered from doing what was right and best for the future of our community as a whole.
The role of Darien First Selectman is no longer a part-time, stay-local job. Active engagement at the regional and state levels are critical for Darien’s voice to be heard on policy matters that impact our daily lives. The leadership roles I’ve been honored to hold during my tenure for Western Connecticut Council of Governments, the Southwest Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency and the State’s Attorney Community Engagement Board have raised Darien’s profile in a very positive way. Darien residents and businesses deserve a leader who will make the commitment to put the well-being of our town above self-interest and party politics.
We’ve experienced a unique and intense set of challenges this past year. We came together, did what was best for our town and made it through stronger, wiser and well-prepared for the next challenge. We’ve been a resilient community for over 200 years and I’m confident in our ability succeed and thrive for generations to come.
I began my Board of Selectmen service to keep local control over decisions that would have had a detrimental impact on our town. Darien is a wonderful and desirable place, in part, because of the great care we take with each and every decision. We know, at the most granular level, what works best for Darien and keeping that control in the hands of our local elected and appointed officials will be one of the biggest challenges facing town leaders going forward.
There are no term limits for Darien’s first selectman, yet I believe strongly in term limits. Congress would serve us far better if there were term limits! The decision to step aside was very difficult given the exciting, transformational work we’ve done to plan for the Darien of our future and the close friendships I’ve made along the way. I feel humbled and gratified by all we’ve set in motion. New leadership and fresh ideas, grounded by our history and community values, are healthy for our community.
For me, I’m closing this chapter. As new doors open, there may be different ways for me to continue to show my love and commitment to our incredible town. It’s been a privilege of a lifetime to serve as your First Selectman for the past decade. Thank you Darien! #BlueWavePride