NewCanaanite.com Endorsement for First Selectman

Some voters will head to their towns’ polls on Tuesday to choose from among zero qualified candidates for top elected offices—New Canaan is fortunate in having two.

Kit Devereaux, the Democratic candidate, and her opponent, Republican Kevin Moynihan, both bring big brains, useful experience and strong records of community service to their bids for the top job at Town Hall.

Three demonstrated skills—ability to say ‘No,’ manage people and work outside of party politics—make Devereaux better equipped.

Forthright and assured, Moynihan is a Town Councilman and retired corporate attorney who has the bearing of a first selectman and would also make a good one. His central strength is his creativity. He is a diligent researcher and independent thinker who takes nothing at face value and relishes the challenges of problem-solving.

Devereaux’s record of service to the community is longer and more consequential.

She served on the Board of Finance and Town Council, then on the Charter Revision Commission and, most recently, Parks & Recreation Commission.

Inquisitive and affable, Devereaux is a retired finance professional who garnered wide respect among New Canaan residents and officials even as she guided the town through some of its most sensitive and far-reaching legislation.

As chairman of the Town Council Lakeview Avenue Bridge Subcommittee, Devereaux led a small group into the political minefield of making recommendations after town officials without authorization spent $1.5 million in cost overruns on that project. Those recommendations, made six years ago, included the creation of an Audit Committee (see page 22 here) and suggestion that the town treasurer function become more than ceremonial (page 21).

On Parks & Rec, she led a successful effort to move drone and quad-copter operators away from conspicuous and heavily used areas of Waveny that long have been designated for passive recreation. In her work on Charter Revision, Devereaux backed one of the commission’s key recommendations—voted up by the electorate last year—involving a change with respect to the first selectman’s role on the Board of Finance. The change had been strongly opposed by the members of that board—yet Devereaux has earned the endorsement of its chairman.

In short, Devereaux has shown a rare ability to say ‘No’ effectively, without engendering ill will—a quality that New Canaan’s next first selectman surely must possess, given what will be a diminished Grand List.

Yet Moynihan’s solutions often involve spending money in some way—by special appropriation (library), siphoning of revenue (Land Acquisition Fund) or major capital project (Lumberyard Lot decking). Devereaux, by contrast, consistently has urged caution and consensus with respect to any expenditure. She alone has raised the specter of budget-padding among municipal department heads and proposed a way to solve it, and she has called for New Canaan to look beyond the important work of the Town Building Evaluation & Use Committee to figure out whether bringing workmen onto the municipal payroll to maintain town-owned buildings would save taxpayer money over one-off major capital projects.

Devereaux also is a better choice for first selectman in that New Canaan needs a CEO now who will stabilize key corners of Town Hall by drawing and retaining the best people to work for the town. Department heads will tell you that New Canaan misses its former budget director and former-former town planner. The highly capable town planner and CFO in place now are working on interim bases. They’ll also say that it takes one to two years to get a new first selectman fully up to speed on how the town actually works.

While both candidates for first selectman can boast extensive project management backgrounds, neither is a proven people manager. Devereaux, however, is better positioned to climb that learning curve and accelerate in the job, both by temperament and style.

Finally, the next first selectman should represent New Canaan without regard for party politics. The town itself is rapidly moving past it. New Canaan in recent years has seen a dramatic rise among unaffiliated voters, a change that has brought about the first time in memory that Republicans, though they still represent the largest single party in town, no longer account for more than half of the electorate.

The next town CEO should continue what has been one major achievement of First Selectman Rob Mallozzi by eschewing party politics to include a broader base of residents in town appointments.

New Canaan voters are, on the whole, media-savvy, independent and sophisticated thinkers. Except perhaps among some committed entirely to a specific town committee, party affiliation alone matters less than the strengths of an individual candidate. Devereaux has collaborated well across party lines in town government and elsewhere, including during a recent stint as president of the League of Women Voters, and it has earned her support from some local lifelong Republicans.

12 thoughts on “NewCanaanite.com Endorsement for First Selectman

  1. Truth be told! The author of this endorsement does not reside in New Canaan nor will he vote in our town’s election tomorrow. The decisions of our elected officials will have absolutely no bearing on him. So where is the relevancy?

    • Thank you, Roy. You are 100 percent correct, my wife and I live with our dogs in Stamford, as has been noted since the day New Canaanite launched, in my bio. What conclusions you draw from my town of residence, and how those conclusions are colored by what we may safely call your singular point of view, are entirely your right to own and express. If there is something in this or any other editorial on the news site that you feel has been influenced somehow by overexposure to the city of Stamford or its environs, I absolutely will hear you out. At the risk of saying something you already know, I would also note that reporters often do not live in the towns they cover. Whether that’s a plus or minus, I frankly don’t know. (I confess that my own mother sold her house on Lakeview in 2004—a hideous year for baseball—after retiring from 35 years with the school district). My own understanding of New Canaan is confined to what I gather from growing up in town as a member of NCHS ’93, covering New Canaan as a news reporter for several years and volunteering as a member of the Kiwanis Club of New Canaan, NCHS Senior Internship Program committee and Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Thank you again.

    • To Roy CPA:
      the website is called NewCanaanite, not Stamfordite … anyone who is not a moron (yea Rex!) knows that the site represents New Canaan.
      Most people also know that the owners of the Advertiser are Republicans and that the paper has always only endorsed Republicans over Democrats. Does Greg Reilly live in New Canaan?
      Your comment sounds just like a Trump tweet!

      George McEvoy, MBA Wharton, MMP Harvard Business School

      • To George’s point, I endorsed eight candidates for elected office today.

        As it turns out, four are Republicans and four are Democrats, though that split was not deliberate.

        In writing these endorsements, I viewed individuals only and tried to be fair and dispassionate, as well as to convey what is frankly is the most important point (even if it’s boring): No matter what combination of candidates wins tomorrow, New Canaan will have highly qualified, committed public servants in place.

        I will add that it’s hard not to admire Roy’s staunch support of candidates from one party, if only because that same party has not once supported his own multiple candidacies.

        • Well Mike. I never expected to win an election where I do not have time to join multiple clubs and chambers. My goal was to bring the real unbiased issues to the electorate through debating. Over the last ten years I have been spot on with my commentary leading to constructive results such as elimination of material weakness in financial reporting and operations and the establishment of our esteemed audit committee. In a town like New Canaan we know someone who tells it like it is will not make many friends amongst the establishment. At least As Churchill said having some who disdain you means you stood up for something in your life you believed in. By the way the first time out I obtained 895 votes not bad for a newcomer who challenged the status quo and was proven oh so right again.

    • Mike spends more time in NC on a day-to-day basis than 90% of its residents. He also tirelessly attends town meetings long forgotten by other news outlets. Why would he do that if he did not care deeply about this town? If anyone is competent and trusted enough to endorse candidates in an unbiased fashion, it is Mike. As an aside, Roy’s constant petty commenting and ridiculous attacks on this site have helped make the choice for first selectman crystal clear. Kit Devereaux. Thanks, Roy!

  2. Since when was it a requirement that a news organization or blogger had to live in the town on which they reported? Even on a local scale?

    That particular argument is laughable.

  3. Michael,

    A friend of mine recommended we go on your site and have fallen in love with your coverage and how well you represent our town! Your site is the go to site for New Canaan and we appreciate all you have done to make such a comprehensive site for NC! Thanks to you and friends throughout town I will be happy to be voting for Kit today and will tell my friends to do so as well! It doesn’t matter to me that you live in Stamford as you know more about our town than many who will be voting and we appreciate your unbiased commentary! As someone else said I’m sure the editor of the NC Advertiser doesn’t live in NC so this is not a problem for anyone of us. Thanks again for all you do!

    Jeff

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