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Marpe, Kaner Take The Helm As Westport’s New Leaders

Jim Marpe, Westport's new first selectman, addresses hundreds gathered at Town Hall Monday night after he was sworn into office. Photo Credit: Vanessa Inzitari
Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe, a Republican, speaks Monday night at the town's oath of office ceremonies. Photo Credit: Vanessa Inzitari
Westport Republican Avi Kaner is sworn in as second selectman Monday night by state Sen. Toni Boucher. His wife, Liz, and sons Jack and Jonathan (not pictured) join him on stage. Photo Credit: Vanessa Inzitari
Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe takes his oath of office Monday night from state Sen. John McKinney. Marpe's wife, Mary Ellen, and daughter, Samantha, look on. Photo Credit: Vanessa Inzitari
Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe receives a hug from his wife, Mary Ellen, Monday night after being sworn into office. Photo Credit: Vanessa Inzitari

WESTPORT, Conn. — Westport’s Town Hall auditorium was standing room only Monday night as hundreds of residents and town employees gathered to watch as Republicans Jim Marpe and Avi Kaner were sworn in as first and second selectman.

During the ceremony —  led by outgoing First Selectman Gordon Joseloff —  Marpe was sworn into office by state Sen. John McKinney (R-28th District). Kaner’s oath of office was administered by state Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26th District).

“I will repeat what I said two weeks ago [on Election night], that I am humbled by the honor of being chosen as your first selectman and grateful that you have seen fit to grant me this awesome responsibility,” Marpe, the former vice chairman of the Board of Education, told the hundreds gathered.

“I pledge to you that my administration will continue to listen and to learn from all of you, to work at building consensus and will commit to being citizen-centric.”

Marpe and Kaner, former Board of Finance chairman, thanked the voters for their support. The first Republican team to lead the town in 16 years, they defeated Democratic challengers Helen Garten and Melissa Kane.

Garten, former vice chairman of the Board of Finance, will work alongside Marpe and Kaner as the third member of the Board of Selectmen. She was also sworn in Monday night.

The new administration will begin their work bright and early Tuesday.

“It’s time to switch from the politics of an election campaign to representing all the people, and to focus on what we have in common, not what divides us,” said Marpe. “I am looking forward to working with all of our elected officials here tonight in a spirit of teamwork, cooperation and consensus building to accomplish that.”

During his speech, Marpe promised to lead the town by being an active listener. To this end, he said he will be hosting a “State of the Town” meeting in the next few months. He said he also plans to meet with residents on a regular basis by hosting coffee and conversation events throughout town.

Both Marpe and Kaner are businessmen. Marpe retired as a senior partner with Accenture, a global management consulting and technology services company. Kaner is an owner of Morton Williams, a supermarket chain in New York.

Kaner said he and Marpe will use the lessons they have learned from the private and public sector to move Westport forward.

“We envision a bright future for our town, a future that will make Westport even more Westport,” Kaner said. “We envision a future where we all journey together to reach our destination, to make Westport one of the five best places to live in the United States. We’re looking forward to working with you— all of you— to make that vision a reality.”

During the ceremony, all of the town’s newly elected officials were sworn into their positions on the Board of Finance, Board of Education, Planning and Zoning Commissions, Board of Assessment Appeals, Zoning Board of Appeals or Representative Town Meeting.

Joseloff, a Democrat who served as first selectman for a total of eight years, did not seek re-election to a third term. He lauded the new administration and all those elected to the town boards and commission, saying they are “among the finest we’ve had in many, many years.”

Joseloff also thanked the residents for allowing him to serve the town for so many years: 22 to be exact. Before being elected first selectman in 2005, Joseloff served on the RTM for a total of 14 years.

“Thank you very much,” Joseloff said. “Goodnight and goodbye.”

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