Like my father, I grew up in North Smithfield, went away to college and to live in other places, and returned to the town as an adult to raise my family. As someone who has lived in North Smithfield for a total of 33 years, I see and remember so many things that are good about our community and I have hopes that we can incorporate some of the best thinking from different fields and places to make our community even more inclusive and resilient for the era in which we are living.
With the current COVID-19 pandemic, we are clearly in unprecedented times. In fact, we will be facing continued uncertainties for years to come. For example, we continue to experience climate change, the need for transitioning to renewable energy, and at the same time, many residents feel strongly that we need to thoughtfully preserve the rural character of our community. The current situation calls for leadership that is at once respectful of the past, is humanistic, and embraces new perspectives. We need more creative ways of engaging residents in imagining how to live in these unprecedented times, big picture thinking, inclusivity, humility, and kindheartedness. I see all of those characteristics in three candidates: Chris Simpkins and Megan Staples for Town Council, and DJ Osier for town administrator.
I have been impressed with Mr. Simpkins’ intelligent and friendly use of technology to communicate with residents about his platform and values. Further testimony of his strengths are his demonstrated leadership in the community with Cub Scouts and other volunteer activities such as collecting food for the local food pantry. He uses smarts and compassion.
In her service on the North Smithfield Planning Board, Ms. Staples has regularly demonstrated her nuanced understanding of land development issues, and in fact often raises concerns and proposes ideas that no other Planning Board member has raised. Ms. Staples often draws public comments from fellow Planning Board members and residents in attendance of meetings, and her comments are spot on and critical to the issue at hand. Ms. Staples is in tune with emerging ideas in land use and development, and has confidence to bring that knowledge forth in public settings. She can hold her own in the public sphere.
Mr. Osier has demonstrated his sincere commitment to protecting the environment, planning holistically across areas of interest including historic preservation, natural resources, and business. Mr. Osier has demonstrated his ability to reach out to the community and listen with an open and inquisitive mind. He is data-driven and has a steady and open demeanor that makes him approachable. He embodies qualities I greatly appreciate in an administrator.
Finally, a high degree of honesty, sincere care for people and the community, and an adherence to ethics has shone through each of these individuals. At a time when our country, state, and community are polarized, we need community leaders who have the vibrant energy, faith, optimism, and new ways of approaching problems to lead us into a new era of collaboration, preservation, and innovation. I believe that each of these candidates possesses the strengths and dispositions needed to help steward our community in a positive, humanistic, and intelligent direction. I urge other fellow North Smithfield residents to learn more about these three candidates (themselves,) and to vote for Chris Simpkins, Megan Staples, and DJ Osier.