Charlestown voters have an important choice between the candidates of the transparent town-first Charlestown Residents United and the hidden-agenda Charlestown Citizens Alliance.
CRU candidates will improve the town’s financial controls to avoid management failures like the recent CCA $3 million “accounting problem” and the excess real estate taxes townspeople paid that contributed to it. The majority CCA tried over and again to explain it away with “there’s nothing to see here” and rejected calls for an audit. Is that fiscally responsible?
Town Council President Deb Carney repeatedly requested town financial records in her oversight role, but three CCA council members voted “No” and denied access. Is that transparent and accountable governance?
CRU candidates are local businesspeople. They include business owners and real estate and restaurant professionals with a stake in the Charlestown economy, who will change the stigma that Charlestown is an unfriendly place to do business.
About “unfriendly to business,” can anyone forget the CCA “Food Truck Fiasco” and the embarrassment the CCA brought to the town in March? Three CCA Town Council members badgered a qualified food truck businessman out of the hearing, stole and claimed as their own his business plan for food trucks at Ninigret Movie Nights, and triggered statewide negative radio and television coverage about the unwelcome environment of Charlestown. Is that honest and responsible leadership?
On conservation, let’s revisit the recent contentious “Conservation Development” debate. CRU members, opposed by CCA, supported open space preservation by the addition of the Conservation Development option to the existing Cluster Subdivision ordinance. That would support conservation AND protection of rights of many property owners who expressed serious concerns in the public meeting to the restrictive ordinance promoted by the CCA-dominated Planning Commission. Is the CCA, as their platform claims, “Engaging the Entire Community in Protecting Our Beautiful Town”?
There are over 10,000 acres of conservation and open space land in town, with close to 50% of Charlestown non-taxable. Candidates endorsed by CRU want to create and fund a plan for open space the town owns and a plan for future purchases. Candidates endorsed by CRU support responsible stewardship of what we own and want to develop a plan for future purchases to protect and preserve the Charlestown natural environment. Why does the CCA want to spend your dollars indiscriminately to buy more land without a plan or funding a maintenance budget?
Finally, CRU supports more community events at Ninigret. CCA prefers to restrict use to create a buffer to the nearby moneyed neighborhoods. Is that town-first, or wealthy-neighbor first?
Please elect a new majority on the Town Council who care about what you care about. Vote for Deb Carney, Grace Klinger, Lorna Persson, Rippy Serra, and Stephen Stokes for Town Council. Vote for residents Patricia Stamps and Gabrielle Godino for Planning Commission and Charlie Beck for town moderator.
Joe Geary, Charlestown
This article appeared as a Letter To the Editor in The Westerly Sun on October 11. Printed here with permission from the author.