Last fall, I asked my office assistant, Melissa, to email all of the potential candidates running for the office of President of the United States. I asked her to ask them a few questions about North Kingstown, RI and our community. First, what would they do to improve our local economy, right here in North Kingstown? Second, how would they handle issues that affect Rhode Island families, such as rising health care costs, cost of living increases, wages? Third, how would they look to improve our failing bridges, roadways, and other transportation issues? I asked Melissa to send these questions in a nice email to every candidate, Republican and Democrat. The results were a bit shocking. Not one candidate, not one volunteer of the candidates team, not one person responded to any of our emails. Not a word about how they would fix the roads or help small businesses success or a viable solution to the minimum wage issue. What we got instead was a flood of donation and marketing emails asking to “join the team” or “support our candidate, he/she cares about you.” We got a number of “our candidate will do what it takes to get your vote” messages, but to be truthful, these were simply automated replies.
This past summer, during the New England Quahog Festival, I got to stand on stage with Kerry McKay, Town Council President, and his daughter. His family and my family have been friends for close to 40 years. During the recent Harbor Lights Festival, I walked into Ellen Waxman’s store in Wickford, Five Main, and we chatted about baseball, the town, and about art. I served on several committees recently with Carol Hueston, who is a great contributor of knowledge about the town’s policies, recreation ideas, and generally is one of the leaders of the groups. I have written blogs and posts about Dr. Phil Auger and his band and am friendly enough with him to email him directly on important topics regarding my children and/or a school issue. To which, Dr. Auger always gets right back to me. Tony Jones is a local candidate who has been instrumental in the arts community here in North Kingstown, especially as part of the North Kingstown Arts Council. I have met or spoken to several of the candidates for local offices in Wickford, at fundraisers, at Chamber of Commerce events.
My point is this. Elections are all about selecting a candidate that will serve not only your needs, political views, philosophies but also your community-at-large’s needs, wants, philosophies. The current presidential candidates are on the campaign trail shaking hands, talking to huge crowds, and expressing their views to get your vote. They are relaying their feelings about what the other candidate cannot and will not do in office. They are laying down their plans for economic growth, healthcare reform, job growth, immigration, and improving our country. In listening to their speeches and watching their television appearances, I am trying to find some kind, any kind of common thread to these candidates. Something that I can relate to or feel that a part of their message could affect me as a resident of North Kingstown, RI. I’m still listening and watching and digesting the messages and will select one of these candidates as it is my American right to do.
This election year, however, I am going to strongly focus on my local elections. My town council, my local state representatives, my state representatives seeking office will be on my front burner. These are the candidates which I have the most direct involvement on how my life, my business, my town’s issues will ebb and flow. Local business men and women, local lawyers, teachers, doctors, accountants, musicians, whatever their profession, these potential candidates that are running for local government will be the ones I will focus on. What would they do to improve our local economy? Not just in North Kingstown, but Washington and South County as well. How are they going to address the issue of wages vs cost of living increases? How are they going to proactively fix the failing bridges, roads around Post Road and Slocum Road and Ten Rod Road and Old Baptist Road? What can they do to improve the recreation facilities that we use and cherish all year round? What can a candidate vying for the office of Town Council do to improve Wickford Village or the Town Beach or The North End business sector?
We hear the slogans “Shop Local” and people flock to local stores and shop local business to improve the economy for local merchants. It is a great slogan and it gets people thinking about the local merchant and why it is so important to buy from them. This year, I am pledging to do extra homework and make my election year about “Vote Local.” I am going to email the candidates questions I have. Each candidate will have a Facebook account or Twitter page, maybe even Snapchat or Instagram. I am going to visit these sites and pick the best candidates, with the best solutions, and the best ideas for my family, my business, my town, my state, and my country. By selecting candidates that will make a significant difference in my local community, I am making my community stronger and my state stronger and my country stronger. I encourage you to do the same.