WESTPORT—Speakers highlighted hopes for bipartisanship after a contentious election at Monday’s inauguration ceremony for newly-elected town officials.
“Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer,” said Avi Kaner, quoting President John F. Kennedy. “Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our responsibility for the future.”
The outgoing second selectman, a Republican, served as the event’s master of ceremonies. Monday night ended Kaner’s 12-year tenure as an elected official in Westport that included time as the Board of Finance chairman.
Newly-elected Second Selectman Jennifer Tooker, Republican, also gave a nod to the contentious election season in her speech introducing her running-mate, re-elected First Selectman Jim Marpe.
“As we all know, Westport is a very special place with residents who are active and interested and, as many of us undoubtedly ran into on the campaign trail, very passionate about the issues,” Tooker said.
In his speech, Marpe sought to turn election disputes into a source of unity.
“What makes Westport a special place are the people: interesting, creative, tolerant, smart and, yes, opinionated,” he said. “In a year in which we have seen division and acrimony in our nation, Westporters will lead by example by treating each other with respect and dignity and practicing every day the shared values that make our town so exceptional.”
Looking forward, Marpe said, “We are faced with challenges that we only saw hints of four years ago. Because the state of Connecticut has become less attractive along many dimensions, we must do everything in our control to retain and attract new businesses and residents.”
All newly-elected officials, including various boards, commissions, and Representative Town Meeting (RTM) members, were sworn in at the event, which also featured a performance by the Staples High School Orphenians choir.
Along with a police and fire honor guard, local Boy and Girl Scout troops processed into the Monday meeting and led the Pledge of Allegiance. Several religious leaders spoke, including Rev. Jeffrey Rider of Greens Farms Congregational Church, Rabbi Yehuda Kantor of Chabad of Westport, and Rev. Thomas Thorne of Church of the Assumption.
“Let this town be a place where people can come together with respect, good will and integrity to make democracy work,” Rider said.