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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Marpe-Tooker in November; Rea Possible Challenger

By James Lomuscio

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe has filed to run again in November with Board of Finance member Jennifer Tooker as his running mate, he confirmed today. Image
Filed with state: (l-r) First Selectman Jim Marpe, Board of Finance (BOF) member Jennifer Tooker, and BOF Vice Chair Michael Rea. Republican Town Committee photos

And Board of Finance Vice Chair Michael Rea said today he has formed an exploratory committee to run for first selectman. He said he filed paperwork on Friday with the State Election Enforcement Commission (SEEC).

Marpe and Tooker made their filing March 9 as candidates with no need to form a committee. Treasurer was listed as Judith Domkowski. Despite being queried since then, Marpe did not acknowledge his intentions until a site search today disclosed the filing.

Rea’s Michael Rea for Westport Committee filing listed RTM member Donna Chapman as his treasurer. Although no office was specified, Rea confirmed it was for first selectman. He did not name a running mate.

Marpe said Avi Kaner, his running mate in 2013 and now a selectman, decided his work commitments did not permit him to run again.

Marpe, 70, said he decided to seek reelection because “I believe Westport is a better place today than when I took office.”

“I’m committed to make it an even better place in the next four years,” he told WestportNow.

When queried last week about seeking a second term, Marpe said he would not announce until the overall town budget was resolved.

The Marpe-Tooker for Westport Committee reported $1,000 in contributions since its initial filing.

Tooker, 47, is a retired senior manager of Gen Re Corp. in Stamford, one of the world’s largest reinsurance companies. She was a member of the Board of Education for two years before being elected to the Board of Finance in 2013.

Rea, 64, said: “I really felt I owed it to myself and the town to better understand the interest of Westporters and to gauge the level of support for my candidacy.”

A town resident since age 4, a 1970 graduate of Staples High School and vice president of General Re Corp, Rea is no stranger to town public service. He has served on the Board of Finance since 2011. Before that he served six terms, 12 years, on the RTM, chairing its finance and environmental committees.

From 1997 through 2002 Rea worked as chairman of the Bedford Middle School Building Committee, seeing the building on North Avenue through its completion. He was also chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission from 1993 through 1997.

Rea also served chairman of the Republican Town Committee, and in 1984 he founded the town’s Italian Festival. In 1982 working with Westport’s Sons of Italy he helped to raise $250,000 for earthquake victims in Balvano, Italy and spearheaded a summer trip to Westport for children who survived the quake.

“People have been asking me for years to run, but more so now than ever before,” said Rea. “People have concerns about the direction of the town.”

Democrat State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg made an exploratory committee filing with the SEEC on March 3 for a municipal office he acknowledged is first selectman. (See WestportNow March 9, 2017)

“I was interested four years ago,” said Steinberg, 61, who was bested then for the Democratic Town Committee (DTC) nomination by Helen Garten, now selectwoman. “So, it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone.”

Like Rea, he was raised in Westport where his late father was a well known physician. Prior to becoming state representative, a post for which he was elected in November for his fourth term, he served as deputy moderator of the RTM.

Garten has not said whether she will seek the Democratic nomination again.

Both the Republican and Democratic Town Committees will select their candidates this summer.


Posted 03/18/17 at 09:13 PM


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