North Smithfield voters will choose local town and school leaders
North Smithfield voters will choose local town and school leaders
NORTH SMITHFIELD - While the field of candidates for seats in town government is relatively thin in 2014, it has nonetheless been a contentious election season with political newcomers emphasizing the need for change, and working to leave an impression on voters.
On Nov. 4, North Smithfield voters will have the chance to choose new members for both the School Committee and Town Council, and will also pick a town administrator to lead the municipality for the next two years.
Here is a run-down of the local candidates and races:
Political newcomer Anthony Guertin is challenging three-term incumbent Town Administrator Paulette Hamilton for North Smithfield's top office. Guertin, the vice president of the North Smithfield Athletic Association, has emphasized what he says is a need for fresh ideas and more cooperation between divided factions in town government. Hamilton, meanwhile, has pointed to the town's achievements and progress over the past six years, and has stressed the need for experienced leadership during potentially difficult times ahead.
8 Country Way
Resident: 14 years
Employment: Guertin has been a sales rep of electronic systems for Simplex Grinnell for the past 17 years.
Activities: North Smithfield Youth Soccer Association - past president, vice president, board member, coach; North Smithfield Athletic Association - vice president, communications
Education: Bachelor's from University of Rhode Island, 1984; Woonsocket High School, 1976
Family: Married to Denise M. (Ducharme) Guertin, one school-aged child
Issues: Guertin has pointed to issues in the town's tax abatement office in stating that North Smithfield suffers from a void in leadership, and has said that the current administrator lacks the core values of accountability and ethics. Guertin has said he plans to work collaboratively with all town factions to "rebuild the bridge" and says that his experience in business will help him to effectively manage town finances.
437 Black Plain Road
Resident: 32 years
Employment: Town of North Smithfield, Town Administrator, 2008 to present; Bryant University-Executive Development Center, Corporate Trainer, 1999 to 2010; RI Mentoring Partnership-Communications Specialist, Hamilton & Associates -Communications Consultants, 1992 to 2009; Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Director of PLAN AMERICA, Financial services, Marquette Credit Union, 1986 to 1992.
Activities: Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns, executive board member; Rhode Island Land Trust, member; Defenders of Animals, member; League of Cities and Towns, Legislative Committee; DMV -Appointed Study Commission member.
Education: Associate, CCRI; Attended Rhode Island College; Certified Mediator; Licensed real estate securities and insurance specialist; Blackstone Valley Leadership Program
Family: Two grown children
Issues: In seeking reelection, Hamilton has pointed out that the town has a "strong bond rating, a funded pension, safe neighborhoods, a fund balance that can handle most unexpected expenses" and has had stable taxes with little or no increase over the past several years. She has said she plans to use her experience as a proven leader to continue to improve the community at an affordable pace.
Only five names will appear on the ballot for the five seats on the North Smithfield Town Council, but two write-in candidates indicated their hope to serve after the official declaration period had closed. Incumbent Town Council President John Flaherty and Councilor Edward Yazbak are not seeking another term, making room for a few new faces.
Councilor Thomas McGee, meanwhile, initially said he would not be running, but said he has since been persuaded by voters to seek a third term.
McGee and a second unlisted candidate, retired Marine Craig Charboneau, will have to overcome highly unfavorable odds to beat the named five. They include two incumbents: Kimberly Alves and Paul Zwolenski; along with Ernest Alter, a former financial consultant; former state legislator Robert Paul Boucher; and Roseanne Nadeau, a senior analyst for CVS Caremark.
Ernest H. Alter
600 Victory Hwy.
Resident: 58 years
Employment: Providence Housing Authority, clerk since July 2014; retired from previously held position at AFLAC, Providence, 2002-2004; former real estate broker, 1987-1989; previously employed at Phoenix Home Life/Phoenix Equity Planning, 1984-1996; previously employed at Shearson Lehman, 1981-1983; previously employed at Dean Witter & Company, 1972-1979; previously held position at Bache & Company, 1966-1970.
Activities: None listed.
Military Service: First lieutenant administrative officer, U.S. Army, 1961-1963.
Education: Certificate from N.Y. Institute of Finance, 1966; certificate from N.Y. Bond Club School, 1972; Graduate School of B&PA, Cornell University (did not obtain degree); bachelor's degree in economics from Washington and Lee University, 1955-1959.
Marital status: Single
Issues: Alter has said he plans to take a fiscally conservative approach to town government and has been a vocal critic of the School Department during funding battles over the past two years. Alter previously ran for town administrator, losing a campaign against Hamilton in 2010, but has since supported the current administration including the work of the Budget Committee.
120 Follett Street
Resident: 25 years
Employment: Embassy Suites Hotel, Watham, Mass., director of finance; Copley Square Hotel, director of finance, four years; Crowne Plaza Hotel at the Crossings, assistant controller, 10 years
Activities: Previous Executive Board member and coach for the North Smithfield Youth Soccer Organization, five years; North Smithfield Little League, coach; volunteered to build playgrounds at NSES and Halliwell.
Education: North Smithfield High School, 1985
Public Service: Alves has served on the North Smithfield Town Council since 2010. She previously served for two years on the North Smithfield Budget Board.
Family: Two school-aged children
Issues: Alves has said that she will continue to have a strong control over the finances of the town. She describes herself as "pro-business," but says she will not put that ahead of the quality of life concerns, and that good business opportunities must also have the best interest of the residents in mind.
Robert Paul Boucher
22 Woonsocket Hill Road
Resident: 60 years
Employment: Retired, works part-time as medical driver for Valley Cab Company;
Activities: Member, Board of Directors of Blackstone River Federal Credit Union; member, N.S. Heritage Association; business manager, His Presence Church; member, Elks Lodge 850 Woonsocket; Steward, Local #328 United Food and Commercial Workers Union, AFL-CIO & CLC; Town Chairman, R.I. Heart Association, two years; Town Chairman, Operation Hope, Relief supplies to aid flood victims of Quincy, IL; coordinator, Medjugore Appeal, Inc., relief supplies to aid refugees in war torn Bosnia; Corporator, Woonsocket Hospital
Education: URI, Johnson and Wales, majored in accounting and management; North Smithfield High School, 1970
Public service: Chairman, District 48 Democrat Representative District Committee; former member, N. Smithfield Board of Canvassers; State Representative District 61 1978-1980 North Smithfield, House Corporation Committee, Department of Transportation Advisory Committee
Military Service: U.S. Army Reserves
Family: Married to Linda (Battad) Boucher, three grown children
Issues: As a state representative, Boucher helped to pass local public safety measures, including highway and street improvements, fought against hazardous waste dumping, and worked to increase parking privileges for the handicapped. He has said that as a member of the Town Council, he will focus on fiscal restraint, accountability, transparency, communication and help for seniors.
Iron Mine Hill Road
Resident: 9 years
Employment: Charbonneau is a disabled Marine Corps Veteran who served as the marketing director for the Pawtucket Times Newspaper from 1991 to 1994. Previously worked for W.P. Smith Realtors Home for Living Network, 1986 to 1991; Self employed bounty hunter/private detective, 1983 to 1986. He was in the United States Marine Corps from 1977 to 1983.
Activities: Disabled American Veterans, life member; R.I. Board of Realtors; Wounded Warriors Foundation; NRI Chamber of Commerce; Marine Corps League; American Board of Clinical Hypnotherapists; Eagle Scout, VFW Post 1271, 1975; New England Golden Gloves Light Heavyweight Boxing Champion, 1976
Education: Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, American Board of Hypnotherapists, 2005-2007; Reiki master; Central Falls High School, 1977
Military Service: United States Marine Corps, 1977-1983, top secret security clearance; Good Conduct Medal, two awards; rifle expert, three awards; pistol expert, three awards; Meritorious Service, two awards; National Defense Medal
Family: Single, one adult child, two deceased children
Issues: Charbonneau has said that he decided to launch a write-in campaign out of concern for his town and the direction it is headed. He has vowed to keep an eye on the town's checkbook if elected and has said that he will be donate his $2,000 salary back to the community for both years of his term. He has also said he will take a common sense approach to local government.
125 Black Plain Road
Resident: 54 years
Employment: McGee Plumbing and Heating, owner, 28 years; Gator's Pub, co-owner
Activities: Men's hockey league
Education: North Smithfield High School, 1979
Family: Two grown children
Issues: McGee points out that both his plumbing business and his focus on sewer-related issues over the past four years have given him a good understanding of infrastructure. He considers himself business friendly and says he has a good understanding of the needs of contractors. An advocate for collaboration and cooperation, particularly between town and school officials, McGee says his greatest asset is common sense.
162 Old Great Road
Resident: three years
Employment: CVS Caremark, senior analyst, architect configuration management, 19 years; real estate agent, 2003-2008; real estate appraiser, 2007
Activities: Invest in N.S.; Parent Teacher Organization volunteer; Lean Six Sigma certified; ITIL certified
Education: Johnson and Wales, 1999; Woonsocket Area Career and Technical Center, 1996
Family: Married to Keith Nadeau with three school-aged children
Issues: Nadeau has said she will work to generate revenue without reducing North Smithfield's "hometown feel." She has vowed to maintain and preserve the town's historical buildings and supports the three bond referendums on the ballot. Nadeau describes herself as a fiscal conservative and said she will aim to eliminate town waste and inefficiencies.
The Town Council hopeful was recently accused of using her candidacy in hopes of securing early kindergarten admission for her child via an email sent to members of the School Committee in June. Nadeau has said the communication has been misinterpreted and that she is speaking to lawyers because the School Department should not have released the document.
7 Robin Way
Resident: 26 years
Employment: Johnson & Wales University, Assistant Professor, five years. Employer Development, six years; Town of North Smithfield, Director of Planning, three years; Anderson Little, Inc., Store Manager, 18 years
Activities: Town Council member, 2004 to present; Ordinance Development Committee, chairman, 2010 to present; Planning Board, chairman, 2000 to 2004, member, 1994 to 1997; Restoration Advisory Board, Air National Guard NIKE Site, 2001 to 2002; High School Principal Screening and Selection Committee, member, 2000 to 2001; Blue Ribbon Committee, member, 2000; School Planning and Building Committee, member, 1998 to 2002; Telecommunications Commission Committee, member, 1997 to 1998 North Smithfield Boys Winter Recreational Basketball League, Coach, 1997 to 2001; DARE, Summer Basketball League, 1998 to 2002
Education: Associate, Community College of Rhode Island; bachelor's, Bryant College; master's, Johnson & Wales University
Family: Wife Norine (Trudeau) Zwolenski, two grown children
Issues: The most experienced member on the council, Zwolenski describes himself as a "consensus builder" and an independent thinker. He has vowed to listen to and represent all residents, and to always vote his mind.
*Denotes a write-in candidate whose name will not appear on the ballot.
Three candidates are competing for two open spots on the School Committee and two of them have closely aligned their campaigns. Art Bassett and Merredythe Nadeau are running on a team platform saying they hope to promote transparency and accountability in the School Department. The third candidate, Francesca Johannis, previously served two terms on the school board before losing the seat to William Connell in 2012.
4 Mowry Ave.
Resident: 13 years
Employment: Major local financial firm, Senior Technology Risk Analyst, three months; Citizen Bank, Senior Compliance Assurance Officer, 5 years; Fidelity Investments, Risk Officer, five years
Activities: North Smithfield Planning Board, five years; Public Facilities Task Force, 2014; Ordinance Review Committee, 2011-2012
Education: Bryant University, bachelor's, 1993; AML Cerified; East Providence High School, 1987
Family: Married to Lori (Champigny) Bassett, two grown children
Issues: Bassett has vowed to support music, sports and extracurricular activities no matter what budget issues come before the School Board, saying that such hot-button issues have been held hostage for too long. An independent, Bassett says he offers a fresh, unbiased perspective to school issues and that he will remain committed to transparency and fiscal accountability. He supports the three bond referendums on the ballot.
490 Mattity Road
Resident: 19 years
Employment: Department of Treasury, Revenue Agent, 26 years
Activities: North Smithfield School Committee, 2008 to 2012; Halliwell Task Force, current member; North Smithfield Budget Commission, past member; Charter Review Commission, past member;
Education: St. Mary's Academy Bay View, 1986; bachelor's Rhode Island College, 1991
Family: Husband Peter Johannis, two school-aged children
Issues: Johannis has emphasized that there's more to education than extracurricular activities and has vowed not to let leaders lose sight of students overall educational needs. She has come out against two of the three bond questions saying that the town should first ensure the proper process is followed, including a Stage II school construction application required by the Rhode Island Department of Education.
29 Homestead Ave.
Resident: 29 years
Employment: PTG, Executive Vice President, 4.5 years
Activities: North Smithfield Budget Committee, 2012-present; C12 Key Player, present; Court Approved Special Advocate, volunteer, present
Education: Smith College, 1975
Family: Married to Richard Nadeau with two adult children
Issues: Calling the annual threats to sports and arts programs disgraceful, Nadeau has pledged not to cut school activities if elected. As a member of the Budget Committee during over the last year, Nadeau said she became discouraged with school officials, who she says turned the process into an "adversarial battle." She has said she will demand transparency and accountability as a member of the board, and saying the town deserves more truth and cooperation. Nadeau supports the three town infrastructure bonds on the ballot.