Berard: Kithes is an investment in the future and the best choice

Berard: Kithes is an investment in the future and the best choice

The special election for the open city council seat this summer is an opportunity to begin the next chapter in Woonsocket’s history. It is no secret that our city has faced its share of challenges in recent memory, but we are a resilient community, and with the right vision and leadership we can harness the assets we have to generate a prosperous and sustainable future for ourselves. Alex Kithes has such a vision and is such a leader, which is why he has my vote for city council.

I came to know Alex through his work as a climate organizer, and I have seen firsthand his dedication to addressing the climate crisis through local action. Our city is poised to be a statewide leader in renewable energy generation, but we need to make sure we are protecting our valuable open space and water resources. This means we should only be putting projects on existing buildings and underutilized industrial properties. Alex plans to create a set of guidelines to make it easy for renewable energy companies to do business in the city, reducing carbon emissions and expanding the tax base in a smart, sustainable manner.

We also possess another invaluable resource in the Blackstone River. It was instrumental in the economic development of the city, yet as manufacturing moved out, we, like many post-industrial cities in the U.S., turned our backs on the river. Alex has pledged to work to restore the Blackstone and once again give it a role in our economy by reducing polluted runoff, keeping trash and litter out of the water, and by finding creative ways to allow residents and visitors more access to the river and its shoreline.

Finally, Alex is committed to the refurbishment of the city’s wastewater treatment plant. Not only will facility upgrades improve water quality in the Blackstone, but they will reduce the distinct smell of sewage that we often have to deal with across the city. He also supports efforts to encourage more walking and biking in the city, increase energy efficiency to lower utility bills, and modernize our zoning code.

When my wife and I were looking to buy a home for our family, we chose Woonsocket because we believe in this city and wanted to make an investment in its future. I consider my support for Alex Kithes to be another investment in our community. I hope you will join me in voting for him on July 2.

Johnathan Berard is a policy analyst and Rhode Island state director at Clean Water Action. He lives in the Hamlet neighborhood with his wife and newborn son.