Darien First Selectman Jayme Stevenson filed papers Tuesday to run for lieutenant governor.
In her first interview following her decision, Stevenson told The Darien Times she “feels a great sense of responsibility to use the skills I have acquired in the last eight years of local public service and on a regional level” to turn the state around.
Stevenson said the state needs a team of open-minded thinking people to make the changes that need to be made and it has to be done “by people who aren’t worried about their political future.”
As far as a gubernatorial candidate she might team with in the election, Stevenson said it is still too soon to think about that and said there are many very highly qualified candidates in the race at the moment.
“Like everyone else I’m doing my homework on those candidates and I want to hear their plans on how they will turn this state around,” she said.
“But first things first, I can now go out and talk to the people of Connecticut as a candidate for lieutenant governor and see if my message resonates with the people of Connecticut,” she said.
Stevenson said in the end the decision as to which candidate she joins in the race will be made at the Republican convention in May, at which she said she clearly hopes she is the standout candidate.
Other Republicans running for lieutenant governor are Joe Markley, representing parts of Waterbury, Cheshire and Southington, as well as Ann Brookes of Westbrook.
But Stevenson pointed out that can change by the convention as some of the many candidates for governor might change their office sought to lieutenant governor or another office.
Stevenson said she is solely committed to lieutenant governor.
“I am committed to be a team player for the next team that is going to make the changes for the state of Connecticut,” she said, adding she thinks it critical that next team include women on all levels of leadership. To that end, she aims to put together an all-women campaign team.
“As Republican women, I think we have to stand up and push back on the Democrats who drive the message about Republicans being anti-women. Nothing could be further from the truth and I will be committed to further that message throughout my campaign.”
Stevenson added that part of her drive to run is “you can’t make change unless you are willing to step up and be vulnerable to whatever comes your way, criticism, both constructive and otherwise. You can’t expect change if you’re not willing to step up yourself.
“Everyone is very supportive of my run. I’ve even had a number of local Democrats tell me the time is now and that they would support me. I’m very pleased about that,” Stevenson said.
“I know I have a very big job ahead of me to get out talking to people across the state of Connecticut. People are wonderful but all very different and have different concerns. I will spend a lot of time listening and learning,” she said.
Stevenson added that on a personal note, she continues to want to be a positive role for her children. Stevenson and her husband John have five children, four daughters and one son, the youngest, in college.
“We continue to tell our children you can do and be whatever it is you want to be. If something needs to change in your life, be the change. My candidacy role models what I want to instill in my children,” she said.
She said her family is happy and excited about her decision.
Wilton state Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) said she has worked with Stevenson on a number of issues facing the state’s cities and towns.
“I know that she has been a very capable chief executive for Darien and a thoughtful and effective chair of the Western Connecticut Council of Governments. I am delighted that she has decided to run for lieutenant governor and that she is committed to building the best possible team for the Republican ticket in November,” Lavielle said.