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Transparent government in Charlestown


The Charlestown Town Council is committed to open and transparent government.


Over the past several months we have held true to our election promises to make our town government more open and transparent. We have affected positive change and created more access and more opportunity for all town residents to be heard and listened to.


Our accomplishments, to date, include the following items which have improved transparency and open government:

  • Revised and improved formatting of Town Council meeting minutes to include information that is useful to the reader, including content of discussions. The current format is transparent and informative. Meeting minutes are available on the town’s website.

  • Returned a voice to the people of Charlestown. The Charlestown Home Rule Charter, approved by voters in 1981, is our town’s manual on governance of our town. It is the primary means for voters to determine how Charlestown is governed. This Town Council amended the ordinance regarding the Charter Revision Advisory Committee, returning this committee to a “standing committee.” The people of Charlestown hold the power to amend the charter. This committee is actively seeking input from residents, town employees, officers and elected officials. This committee is obligated to hold at least one public hearing before forwarding any proposals to the council for consideration, further public hearing and ultimately, a townwide vote. Your vote! All Charter Revision Advisory Committee meetings are public. Everyone is welcome to attend.

  • Established an Ordinance Review Ad Hoc Committee. Some of Charlestown’s ordinances are outdated, unconstitutional, or in violation of state law. These need to be corrected. This advisory committee is made up of two town councilors; one member each from the Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Review, Affordable Housing Commission and Economic Improvement Commission; and two members at large. The committee also includes a Charlestown police officer, the interim town administrator, the building/zoning official, the town clerk, the town planner and the town solicitor. This is a broad range of representation. This process is long overdue. The town’s ordinances have not been reviewed for compliance with state law in approximately 20 years. In addition to this committee reviewing the town’s ordinances, the town has enlisted the services of General Code to assist with the legal compliance component. Ordinance Review Ad Hoc Committee meetings are public. Everyone is welcome to attend.

  • The council, in addition to the above committees, has reached out to town staff and the chairs of boards, committees and commissions, and to all residents through the town’s Pipeline to solicit input on the charter, the ordinances, and the Comprehensive Plan. We want to hear from all town residents regarding these issues.

  • Utilized the Town Council ordinance which provides for a second monthly meeting on the fourth Monday of the month when warranted and necessary. This allows for two meetings of reasonable length, which is conducive to more public engagement and rationed decision-making.

  • Guaranteed all councilors will be treated equally, and all have the right to place items on the meeting agenda that are of interest to our town.

As always, we encourage residents to attend Town Council meetings or view them via the town’s website www.Charlestownri.gov.


Deborah Carney, Charlestown The writer is the president of the Charlestown Town Council.


This article first appeared as a Letter To the Editor in The Westerly Sun on August 8, 2023

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