DARIEN — Republican Jayme Stevenson, a former first selectman of Darien, announced her candidacy Sunday to unseat Congressman Jim Himes, a Democrat, in the 4th district. Himes has held the seat since 2009.
“I’ve actually thought about it for a couple of years. I’m just really displeased with the discourse that I see in Washington with our representatives, which in my opinion, has reached a fever pitch,” Stevenson told CT Examiner by phone Sunday.
As a mother of five and now a grandmother of two, she was also motivated by concerns about the world that the next generations will grow up in.
“Seeing what’s happening with rising crime and violence in our streets and problems at our borders, schools that are failing our children — there are so many issues, both domestically and now abroad that I believe the folks that are serving in Washington right now are complicit,” she said. “Anyone that’s been in Washington, voting for certain policies, I consider them part of the reason why we find ourselves where we are today. So I believe it’s time for a change.”
Stevenson said she brings not only her experience but the “right temperament and the ability to really listen to the people” she serves and to find solutions that work across the aisle.
“I know what it means to have to work with people who are not of the same party in order to get things done. I did it every day for 10 years in Darien and so I’m ready to take on that challenge at a higher level and bring a seriousness and civility to national policy,” she said.
She said she is passionate about helping to get the economy back on track and would draw on her experience in crafting balanced, zero-based budgets in Darien.
“We never spent beyond our means and we didn’t borrow for frivolous purposes. And as a result, we enjoy a very strong triple-A rating, and always have, and are very proud of that. So I certainly will support less spending and less borrowing.”
She would support returning America to “energy independence,” especially because of the current inflation of gas and oil prices due to the war in Ukraine.
“It’s [about] turning back on the oil and gas reserves that we have, but at the same time, I do support clean energy initiatives. I don’t think it’s an ‘either or’ policy myself. I think energy policy needs to be dynamic and change with domestic and foreign conditions — and at this moment, we need to return to energy independence and that will give us a lot of strength around the world.”
She said she would also help bring a higher degree of public safety and return trust to law enforcement across the country, coupled with supporting mental health services within communities.
“I would work very hard to make sure that all police departments across the country have access to the right training and technology so that they’re all very highly skilled… I do think that there’s a role for some social service intervention at certain times with certain incidents,” she said. “It’s such a fundamental role of government to keep the public safe that we have to rebuild trust in our law enforcement.”
Support of mental health services, especially for children, would be a priority, she said.
“Our children are really suffering from a sense of isolation from COVID policies. So now that things are opening back up, I think we have a lot of remedial work to do to support our kids and I welcome the opportunity to work on that at a national level.”
Stevenson, 60, said she was a bond analyst at Standard and Poor before she became a stay-at-home mother to raise her five children. In 2018, she unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor.
She said she is a member of several nonprofit boards in the area, including LifeBridge Community Services in Bridgeport, and the Rowan Center — formerly known as the Center for Sexual Assault and Crisis Counseling in Stamford.
“And I recently joined the board of Stamford EMS. Based on my experience with emergency management and preparedness, that was a good fit for me coming off my 10 years as first selectman,” she said.
Stevenson commented that she is part of a “new breed” of Republicans.
“I think the Republican party this year has the right ideas to turn the state and turn our country around, move us in a better direction,” she said. “I’m not your grandfather’s Republican, for sure. And I’m really looking forward to talking to the people about what I represent and how I can bring that new attitude to a healthier policy environment in Washington.”
In a later text to CT Examiner, Stevenson said that the issues facing the fourth district, the state and the country have nothing whatsoever to do with partisan politics.
“Admittedly, Republicans and Democrats have different ways of addressing problems. I believe in limited government intervention…. just enough to help people help themselves and a safety net for the most vulnerable among us,” she wrote. “I have trust in people to know what is best for their family and their business and in the transformative power of American ingenuity. We need government to be our partner in helping to keep us safe, healthy and well educated…we can handle the rest.”
She described herself as a commonsense Republican, one that does not stand on ideology.
“And I consider myself to be fiscally and financially shrewd, and prudent —that’s such an old world word, though. And, maybe socially more libertarian, is how I would describe myself,” she said.
Asked how she would feel if former President Donald Trump supported her campaign, Stevenson said is looking forward toward the future rather than at the past.
“I don’t look back and there are likely going to be a number of Republicans that get into the race for the presidential bid in a number of years. My campaign is my election is this November. And I am looking forward to running my own race. And that’s really how I feel at this moment,” she said.
She said she did not question the integrity of the 2020 election.
“I believe that there were a lot of smart people in Washington that investigated and held hearings, and did not find evidence of broad based voter fraud. I certainly accept President Biden as our president. And so let’s move on. Let’s help make our voting environment easier for people to vote and harder for them to cheat. And if everybody keeps working toward those goals, I think we’ll be in a good place.”
She said she was looking forward to sharing her message with voters door-to-door in all 17 towns in the fourth district.
“I truly believe that our world and America are less safe today than they were 14 years ago when we hired Jim Himes to go to Washington, so it’s time for a change,” she said. “And while it seems early for people to be paying attention to a midterm election, there are so many things that are challenging us all in our lives, that our representatives in Washington can do a better job to help alleviate. And I’m looking forward to earning the trust and faith of the voters this November to be that person.”
Stevenson will face challenger Michael T. Goldstein, of Greenwich, in the Republican primary in August. Goldstein, a doctor and a lawyer, announced in February that he would seek the Republican nomination for the fourth district.
Editor’s note: This article previously referred to Michael T. Goldstein, M.D. and J.D., incorrectly as Robert Goldstein.