Town Republican debate plan would have used Class of 2014 grads

Town Republican debate plan would have used Class of 2014 grads

NORTH SMITHFIELD - The North Smithfield Republican Town Committee had a plan to push their candidate for town administrator - Anthony Guertin - "over the top" on Nov. 4 by holding a "public debate" moderated by a member of the North Smithfield High School Class of 2014.

Although the town Republicans began planning the event, and even drafted a flyer on behalf of a group they dubbed "Students for Open Government," everyone, from Guertin and his opponent Paulette Hamilton, to Class of 2014 member Bridget Hall, have said they will not be taking part.

And Hall has questioned why the group drafted a flyer with her name on it.

The issue came to the attention of The Valley Breeze this week in the form of an email, forwarded to the paper after it was sent to Guertin and others, from Paul Baillargeon of Holliston Sand Company.

"I recommend NSRTC sponsor the debate assuming (the) youngsters (are) not happy being center stage," writes Baillargeon. "We still need a moderator if everyone is on board with sponsorship and Tony is comfortable with this. I still think this is crucial to pushing Tony over the top, even though the ad becomes partisan due to sponsorship - so what!"

Attached to the email, which was also sent to Paul Vadenais, Town Councilor Edward Yazbak and School Committee candidate Fran Johannis, is a draft flyer advertising the event, tentatively scheduled for Monday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. at North Smithfield High School.

"Wanted: Public Debate," the document reads. "Sponsored by Students For Open Government. Reward: Open Honest Government."

Hall is listed as the moderator for the event.

But Hall, who graduated from North Smithfield High School last June and is now attending University of Rhode Island, said she had nothing to do with creation of the document. The draft flyer, she said, was sent to her through a contact of her mother's.

"I sent a relatively strongly-worded email back saying I'm flattered, but I don't think I'm qualified to serve as moderator and also asked if there's a reason why they drafted this without asking me.

Budget Committee Chairman Michael Clifford, who received a copy of the email and shared it with The Breeze, said the event was a blatant attempt to stack the deck against Hamilton and disguise it by using a group of young residents.

"This will certainly be an unbiased event since Mr. Guertin is being consulted about his comfort level," said Clifford sarcastically. "I wonder which 'youngster' put together the 'ad attached as originally drafted?'"

Hall had been interested in a debate earlier this month. She had organized a dozen or so of her former classmates to petition the two candidates to take part in an open forum, but Hamilton declined, saying she would prefer the non-partisan, unbiased debate setting offered by The Valley Breeze.

In a letter to the editor this week, Hall expresses disappointment in Hamilton, stating "The students, including myself, who requested this debate are passionate about democracy, not politics."

For his part, Guertin said that he never backed the idea and has officially declared that it will not be happening.

"They asked if they wanted to pursue this conceptually," Guertin said. "It's not anything I ever seriously considered and I won't stand behind it."

"The Republican Town Committee wants to support me and I will take support from anyone," he added. "But these kids are college freshmen and there's just not time."

Hamilton and Guertin did face off in a videotaped debate held at The Breeze office in Lincoln on Friday, Oct. 17. The complete debate can be viewed online at valleybreeze.com.

Comments

Sandy, I like most of your work and think you do a great job for the Breeze. It pains me to point out that you missed the real scoop here....

North Smithfield has a Republican Town Committee? Huh....who knew?

You're funny. Didn't see that one coming.

This guy is the chairman of the budget committee and thinks he runs the town, 2nd in command.

Hamilton and Clifford. Now that's a pair that beats a full house.lol

The town should do away with the budget committee.

If you aren't posting your name, you are a troll and your opinion means nothing. I think I've even called on "veteran" before to sign his/her name. In fact, I believe I've questioned your handle. You probably aren't a veteran...we already know you a coward.

For anyone that doesn't know what a troll is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_%28Internet%29

Art Bassett
NS Planning Board
Candidate for School Committee

I think the Valley Breeze debate says all. It's important to see someone running for Town Administrator talking about building consensus and getting differing parties to come to the table. As opposed to an incumbent avoiding the issues, not taking blame and having no back up plans. Tony Guertin is earnest in his quest for sound fiscal management and cooperative leadership, something North Smithfield needs.

Art, I withhold my name the same way one is allowed anonymity in the voting booth. To protect my civil rights from those whose emotions can get the better of them.