Update, 8:15 p.m.:
Video of the debate — courtesy of — is now available above. The recording has been split into individual questions. (Due to a technical problem, one segment regarding storm response could not be uploaded.)
Darien's three first selectman candidates shared the auditorium stage Tuesday evening in a debate that ranged from fiscal issues and the proposed facilities shuffle to questions of board collaboration and personal qualifications for the office.
The face-off, hosted by the and moderated by Kay Maxwell, followed three earlier debates on the evening by candidates for the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance, and the Board of Education.
John Lundeen (D), Jayme Stevenson (R), and Chris Noe (Ultra-Conservative) are set to appear in an additional media-moderated debate at the on Thursday (11:30 a.m.).
Below are excerpts from each first selectman candidate's response to some of the evening's questions. Video from the debate — courtesy of — will be uploaded this evening.
Excerpts from the evening's other debates will also be posted shortly.
As first selectman, what will your top priority be during your first year in office?
- JAYME STEVENSON (R): I will first and foremost spend my time getting to know our town employees and the needs that they have, and further understanding the delivery of our services. I've come a long way but I know I have more to learn. In terms of service priorities, obviously first and foremost must come public health and safety … and also to be very careful stewards of your tax dollars.
- CHRIS NOE (ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE): I've got a plan for 8-30g that would yield 500 points and that would end our shortfall of 8-30g points. We wouldn't be under attack from any more unscrupulous builders. It would save us millions of dollars in legal. … Given the opportunity, I would spend my first hours as first selectman banging on the doors in Hartford to file the application for this project that was put together two years ago when I ran for first selectman.
- JOHN LUNDEEN (D): I have some background and some experience in the whole area of budgetary management and fiscal responsibility in government. There's no question that that would be my first priority as first selectmen in my first year in office. … I would make sure that we take seriously the need to look at the operational cost implications of all the capital expenditures that the current board has left us with. I think we need to look very, very hard at what the prospect of nearly doubling the senior center in size would do to the operating costs of the senior center programs.
What is your position on affordable housing?
- NOE: I have a plan. ... It's age-restricted, it's self-governed. If a kid is disruptive, he gets thrown out by his own peers. It's been on the table for two years. … 8-30g is costing our town a lot of money, there's a lot of people losing sleep over it. Two years ago I came up with a team, and we came up with a phenomenal project, and I would really like to present it to the state. … It takes two years to build it, so we could definitely make the moratorium with the plan that I have.
- LUNDEEN: I think it's great we have the moratorium. I think we need a plan for how we position as a town to get the next moratorium. … We have an inclusive housing law in town. That means we work that with developers and identify appropriate sites for housing to come into town. … It's important that they [affordable units] be spread around the town. I think that our Planning and Zoning Department is able and capable of doing that. We just need to get with the planning process and move it forward.
- STEVENSON: We got our first moratorium. … It wasn't until we got into our administration in '09 that we decided to dig a little deeper [for moratorium points], because the answer at that time 'No, we didn't have enough points to qualify.' Well, folks, we did have the points to qualify, and I think we could have saved our town a great deal of angst and a great deal of taxpayer legal fees had we pursued that when we could have. … One of the first things I would do is continue Dave's hard work up in Hartford to get some changes. … We'd like to see them implement an overlay zone for affordable housing. With that we would regain our responsibilities to respond to 8-30g.
As first selectman, what would you do to work collaboratively with all members of the board?
- LUNDEEN: The first thing that I would do is I would make sure that when we are sworn in as members of the Board of Selectmen, that we are all called together — Republicans and Democrats — and sworn in in one ceremony. I was shocked to learn that the most recent Board of Selectmen took the liberty of swearing in the majority candidates without paying any attention to the minority candidates. ... We need to make sure that we're talking to each other — Republicans and Democrats and Independents — and if we don't start out together, I don't see how that process is going to continue. … I think the spirit of that needs to be carried out throughout the two-year term.
- STEVENSON: We're going bowling. That's the first thing we're going to do as a board, because I think bowling is the great equalizer. … I think that my coworkers Dave and Jerry will agree that I tend to overcommunicate. … I'm not worried in the least about us collaborating. I came into office in '09 with such tremendous hope that we would in fact collaborate and work very closely as a cohesive, nonpartisan board. For a variety of reasons which probably don't need to be rehashed here in public, that didn't happen. But I have the skills that it takes. I have the intense desire to absolutely make sure that happens, and I just hope my friends will dust off their bowling shoes.
- NOE: I offer a third party. I don't have a Republican agenda, I don't have a Democratic agenda. I have a completely different agenda, which is to control costs and save money and actually eliminate our town debt. … What happens if I'm in the middle between two Democrats and two Republicans? I get to be a babysitter. These guys aren't going to get away with it anymore. We're all going to have to work together. And I think as a team — five selectmen, all banging heads — toward a common goal, we will just catapult to places where we should be.
What's your position on the shuffle?
- STEVENSON: I am a strong advocate of the shuffle. … It's a real opportunity for our community to think out of the box about problem-solving and embrace a new amenity for the town of Darien. … Town Hall is already busting at the seams with community-oriented youth program. We already function as a community center here at Town Hall … so I'm asking for taxpayers to open their minds to a new idea, a new amenity, which I have every reason to believe will have tremendous personal, social, and financial value to all of our lives. … It's a tremendous model of efficiency and timing.
- NOE: The shuffle, before it was named the shuffle, was something that kicked around around the RTM, probably six months before Dave Campbell announced it. And the groups that discussed it, we realized it was going to be wildly expensive. … I don't know when the Town of Darien is ever going to get the opportunity to own a piece of property like that [35 Leroy] in the center of town. … I think to take this piece of property that is a piece of gold and use it for administrative offices — I think we totally missed the boat here.
- LUNDEEN: I don't have a history of being intensely involved in the to-ing and fro-ing on the Board of Selectmen that's gone on for the last six months. I'm not sorry about that. It's obviously been very intense and unpleasant for both sides. … He [Dave Campbell] told us it would be a $4 million project … but he misestimated by a factor of 100%. It's probably twice the construction cost that he estimated, and we found out [35 Leroy] wasn't a sunk cost. So now we found out a $4 million project was a $12 million project, and some people in town are still saying it's efficient? I just don't get that. I would oppose the shuffle completely. I just don't see why the problem of the senior center — which is a problem and needs to be fixed — has ever been associated with the 35 Leroy property. There is no connection between these two things, and everybody knows the Board of Education does not need new offices.