The Charlestown Citizens Alliance likes to masquerade as saviors of Charlestown. Logically, if long-term residents of Charlestown hadn’t been good stewards of the town, then newer full-time residents, like some of the CCA candidates, wouldn’t have settled here.
The CCA leadership is like a revolving door. They stay in town for a few years, try to control everything, and then leave. At its core the CCA is a selfish clique that wants to run Charlestown as their own “gated community.” Over their tenure, I have witnessed them trade in lies, fearmongering, faux environmentalism, and closed-door government, while demanding unwavering allegiance from each new crop of so-called “independents” running under the CCA banner.
Most of the Charlestown Residents United candidates have lived in town over 30 years providing vital services to the community. They support conservation and balanced town growth. Grace Klinger, current town councilor, and CRU candidate for reelection, has spent 13 years on the Charlestown Conservation Commission.
Despite CCA claims that Charlestown is growing wildly, the 2020 U.S. census shows that Charlestown has not grown, only aged demographically in 20 years — young people leave because they can’t afford to live here and retirees from Connecticut, New York and elsewhere replace them.
This creates issues because with fewer younger residents it becomes more difficult to maintain a town infrastructure, staff our volunteer fire department, manage open-space trails, and provide a local workforce. Incidentally, Stephen Stokes, a CRU candidate who grew up in Charlestown, started as a volunteer for Charlestown Fire and Ambulance and now is a career firefighter/paramedic.
Charlestown is in proximity to the University of Rhode Island. Graduates of URI can play a vital role in developing the 21st-century economy of Rhode Island, but they lack local opportunities and affordable housing. My college-educated children have left the state to find employment.
URI recently announced the formation of a new Rhode Island Agricultural Innovation & Entrepreneurship Campus to encourage entrepreneurship and local food security. This matches Charlestown’s rural, green ethic. We should be encouraging local graduates to stay in the area and help sustain and grow our economy.
There is federal and state money available to provide affordable housing, but the town needs leadership that will recognize and address this. CCA does not care about this.
As a 37-year resident of the town of Charlestown, I will be voting for the CRU candidates Deb Carney, Grace Klinger, Lorna Persson, Rippy Serra, and Stephen Stokes for Town Council; Patricia Stamps and Gabrielle Godino for Planning Commission; and Charlie Beck for town moderator.
John Hacunda, Charlestown
This article appeared as a Letter To the Editor in The Westerly Sun on October 29.