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Thursday, June 01, 2017

Steinberg: ‘Public Service’ Precludes First Selectman Run

By James Lomuscio

State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg said today that he was ending his exploratory committee for first selectman in order to remain focused on the state, which “is going through very, very tough times.”

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State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg:  Not this time. Contributed photo

The state’s fiscal malaise with a $1.4 billion deficit appeared heightened Wednesday with reports that Aetna, a Connecticut mainstay for 164 years, is looking at leaving Connecticut.

“I see myself as a public servant,” said Steinberg, a Democrat, adding that voters had re-elected him because they believed in his arguments as to what was best for the state. “So, how could I walk away because things are getting sketchy.”

Steinberg is now in his fourth term, which has more than a year left. His exploratory committee titled Jonathan for Westport was posted on the State Election Enforcement Committee site in early March.

First Selectman Jim Marpe, a Republican incumbent seeking a second, four-year term, also filed that month, listing Board of Finance member Jennifer Tooker as his running mate. Around the same time, Board of Finance Vice Chairman Michael Rea formed an exploratory committee to run for first selectman.

“It’s one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make because I’ve really wanted to serve Westport as its municipal executive,” Steinberg said in an interview before heading off to Hartford.

“But, for me, it came down to the point, the meaning of public service.

“Sure, elected officials choose to run for other offices before completing their existing terms all the time,” he added.  “But this situation is different. The state of Connecticut is going through very, very tough times. I know this as well or better that anybody, having served for almost seven years in the legislature.

“I’ve committed myself to understanding the state’s fiscal situation and trying to figure out how to get out of it, causing as little pain as possible to the people of the state.”

Steinberg said that working on the state budget has consumed so much of his time, “I could not in good conscience abandon my role.”

“Frankly, whether we have a state budget within the next week or not — and it’s looking dubious — I couldn’t contemplate running an election campaign with those expectations for myself,” he said.

“I still would like to be Westport’s first selectman. Perhaps someday I will. But it won’t be this time.”

A Westport native, Steinberg, 61, is a Yale University graduate and son of the late Dr. Harold Steinberg, who co-founded Internal Medicine Associates of Westport, the largest internal medicine practice in Westport.

Before his election to the Legislature in 2010, Steinberg served as chair of the Health and Human Services Committee of Westport’s Representative Town Meeting.

The Democratic Town Committee and the Republican Town Committee are scheduled to nominate their candidates early this summer.

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Posted 06/01/17 at 10:43 AM  Permalink



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