[Note: Our endorsement for first selectman can be found here.]
In rising above party politics and at times checking New Canaan’s highest elected official to preserve a balance of power within the town government’s executive branch, Selectmen Kit Devereaux and Nick Williams each have earned re-election to the Board of Selectmen on Nov. 5.
Williams, a career attorney, is a four-term incumbent Republican who had served previously on the Board of Education, including as chairman.
Devereaux, a Democrat who retired from a career in finance, served for eight years apiece on the Town Council and Board of Finance, and after a shorter stint on the Parks & Recreation Commission challenged for the first selectman seat two years ago, falling just 33 votes short.
She landed in a selectman seat and, as evident during last week’s Candidates Debate, Devereaux and Williams—though they don’t agree on every vote or matter that comes before the Board, for example, on moving forward on a possible sale of Vine Cottage or charging for disabled parking spaces at the train station—have forged a strong and effective working relationship.
Twice, Devereaux and Williams pushed back when First Selectman Kevin Moynihan moved to disband working volunteer groups, with both the Youth Sports and Spencer’s Run Committees. After Devereaux voiced concerns about being left out of the Vine Cottage RFP process, Williams urged Moynihan to include her among a group of town officials who would be allowed to view proposals from parties seeking to buy the iconic Main Street building, and she is. Notably, with Moynihan and Devereaux in direct opposition with respect to the future of the Mead Park Brick Barn, Williams stepped in to forestall demolition—voting at times with his Democratic counterpart—to hear out advocates for the structure until he judged their efforts to preserve it impracticable.
During last week’s debate, responding to a question about the best way that a selectman can add value to town government, Williams said “bring novel ideas to the table.” We think he’s done that, most recently with proposals to eliminate metered parking downtown and create a more suitable animal shelter.
Devereaux in her repeated calls for more public bidding has changed the way officials from the Public Works and other municipal departments go about hiring companies through town-issued contracts. Department heads now routinely anticipate her questions about whether projects went out to bid, and town business is done differently as a result. Answering the same question as Williams during last week’s debate, Devereaux said the selectman’s job is about “listening to what people want, being open and trying to bring as many people into process as we can.” “Sometimes we are afraid of public input,” she said. “I would like there to be just a plentiful amount of it, because the more we hear, the better we’ll be.” She’s been true to that principle, standing her ground to call for more public input on the future of Irwin House, dogging Moynihan about a survey of taxpayers and otherwise calling for Town Hall to be more inclusive. Though she’s a minority party member of the Board and therefore hindered somewhat in direct communications with the first selectman, Devereaux has diligently kept abreast of goings-on as a regular attendee of Moynihan’s press briefings.
Devereaux and Williams have worked hard, independently and collaboratively, on behalf of their constituents, and they’ve earned re-election.
Hard to do: “Vote for One”