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"The 10% Difference"

CRU candidates regularly hear, "what is the difference between you and the other candidates"? 10%, that's it. 90% of what you hear are the same beliefs amongst all candidates, which makes sense as most of the issues are ones that we all care about in Charlestown.

Everyone commits to keeping our tax rate one of the lowest in Rhode Island, but we will not overtax you to keep a large surplus far beyond what sound accounting practices suggest. Additionally, we believe detailed audits must be done and financial controls reviewed when mistakes are made, such as the recent 3-million-dollar accounting error.

We are very committed to protecting the community we have all lived in for more than twenty years. Everyone commits to protecting our groundwater, wetlands, and the environment. Our wells are just as susceptible as everyone else's to contamination, our ponds to pollution, our wetlands to destruction. Long-term solutions to these complex problems are some of CRU candidates' concerns.

Everyone commits to providing access to our beaches, coastal and inland ponds, and rivers, maintaining well-kept parks and hiking trails, and the town-owned portions of the more than 10,000 acres of open space. We, however, will ensure that the responsibility of maintaining those trails and open spaces is not the sole job of seven volunteers with little funding. We additionally commit to ensuring that properties purchased for open space are done so with the financial responsibility to the taxpayer kept in mind and that the rights of private property owners are respected. We believe in conservation, not confiscation.

No one wants to see careless, high-density development or our rural character destroyed and our quality of life diminished. No one wants big box stores or Burger Kings. However, we want to support our local businesses and ensure they can grow to meet the needs of our community. We want responsible development to address the significant housing crisis that faces all of us and fair, transparent, objective guidelines that apply equally across our many boards and commissions.

We commit to a fair, transparent, and representative government. We will not ignore citizens' concerns and vote in some predetermined fashion. We will not shy away from public debate of an issue regardless of how we may personally feel about it or how politically convenient it may be to deny the public a hearing.

Others claim transparency and independence while endorsing themselves as members of a political action committee, which by definition is a special interest group.

We don't hide that we are Republicans, Democrats, Independents, conservatives, liberals, political action committee members, retirees, business owners, union members, young growing families, and everything else in between. Although all different, what unites us is our belief in true transparency and diversity. We believe that everyone in our community has a voice and that the Council that serves them should truly be representative, not exclusive.

Please allow us, Deborah Carney, Grace Klinger, Lorna Persson, Richard Rippy Serra, and Stephen Stokes, to earn your vote.

For more information:

Stephen Stokes,

The writer is a current member of the Charlestown Zoning Board and a candidate for Town Council

This article appeared as a Letter To the Editor in The Westerly Sun on October 11. Printed here with permission of the author.

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