BURRILLVILLE – In a note to voters on the upcoming General Election to be held Tuesday, Nov. 8 Town Councilor Dennis Anderson cited his past experience and laid out his reasons for seeking for another term.
“I am an engineer. Engineers solve problems. Engineers like to help,” Anderson said.
“I was that kid that drove his first tractor at six years old, milked his first cow at seven, broke up frozen silage with a pick axe at eight and helped bale hay at nine. My first paying job was 60 years ago when my grandfather hired my five-year-old brother and I to pluck wild mustard plants from his fields for a penny apiece. In two weeks, my brother and I made almost $30. At that time, that would buy gasoline and groceries for a family for a month.”
“By the time I was 10, I was fixing other kid’s bicycles and greasing and washing my dad‘s trucks. At 12, I was helping my dad overhaul diesel engines,” Anderson continued. “There was a Montana trucker who told the story to his dying day earlier this year about a 13-year-old kid who showed up with a couple pieces of muffler strap and a few stove bolts to fix a broken throttle arm on a 335 Cummins to get his truck back on the road.”
“Before I was 16, I got a job at a truck stop working at least 53-hours-a-week fueling trucks and changing tires through my last two years of high school, where I graduated a quarter early and in the top 20 percent of my class. I hauled US mail at 3 o’clock in the morning to 16 northwest Minnesota communities with a final stop in Fargo, North Dakota to put myself through college. As an engineering student, I designed and led the construction of two concrete canoes for competition with other Midwest colleges and universities at the Tuttle Creek Reservoir in Manhattan, Kansas.”
Anderson received the outstanding civil engineering senior award and graduated from North Dakota State University with the highest GPA in the college of engineering and architecture in 1977. He earned an MBA at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio eight years later, again finishing first in his class.
“The pillars of my upbringing were honesty, hard work, patriotism, understanding the value of a dollar, treating others with respect and helping anyone in need,” Anderson said. “My mother is a saint and had a career in social work. We had a number of foster children living with the us when she could not find another home for them.”
Anderson worked with FM Global and its predecessor companies for more than 39 years, going from field engineer to chief engineer. He notes he had the opportunity to impact the way the world’s largest corporations viewed their property risk through visits to the FM global research campus in West Glocester; develop dozens of online training programs and Know More Risk videos; and conceive, design and build a hands-on training facility in Norwood, Mass. called the SimZone to educate engineers and clients on property hazards and their solutions. The SimZone project resulted in national risk innovation awards in 2012 and 2014.
Following his retirement, Anderson was on the budget board for four years, and he has been on the WellOne Board of Directors for more than five years, currently serving as vice chairman. He is also involved in his church, the Burrillville Republican Town Committee and the Pascoag Fire District.
In his past four years on the Town Council, he’s been on the screening subcommittee for four years and chairman for the last two, liaison to the Burrillville Prevention Action Coalition, liaison to the Planning Board, liaison to the Redevelopment Agency and liaison to the Sewer Commission.
“When I make a commitment, I am all in,” he said. “I have missed very few of any of these board and commission meetings and virtually none of the Town Council meetings.”
Anderson has also been a frequent speaker at Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies, as well as the 20th anniversary of 9/11, a Back the Blue and Red event and an Armed Forces Day at the Community Baptist Church.
“Those in attendance will likely recall my patriotic passion and sense of history in the 246 year experiment in liberty and freedom called the United States of America,” he said.
Anderson said he has several reason for seeking another term on the Burrillville Town Council.
“First and foremost, I want to be a good steward of taxpayer money,” he said. “It is a challenging balancing act to maintain the municipal services and quality education the community deserves. I will take some credit that the average annual tax rate increase over the last four years is only 1.38 percent. I have enjoyed the annual CIP/operations budget process, analysis of the LS power 0SP FY23–FY28 tax agreement, and being on the police contract negotiating team twice.”
Anderson was on the ad hoc committee that led to needed bond for improvements to Burrillville schools, financed with a 50-60 percent reimbursement. He is now engaged in the use of American Rescue Plan Act funds, serving on the infrastructure subcommittee that has already designated contributions to a number of worthwhile projects in town.
“Those worthwhile projects include an upgrade to the police department command center; supplementing a grant we hope to receive for 800 MHz communication for all fire departments and DPW; investigation of some sewer expansion possibilities in Nasonville, an extension of water and sewer south of the industrial park on route 102 and looping the water main on Latham Farm Road; supporting Pascoag Utility District well exploration; and contributing to Harrisville Water District water main looping and river crossing between Sherman Farm Road and Cherry Farm Road,” Anderson said.
Anderson also pointed to the council’s work on developing laws for solar arrays, noting that Town Council President Don Fox led the 12 month moratorium on large projects last year. A new, revised ordinance, developed by the Planning Board in conjunction with an outside consultant, is expected to be fully adopted at the Town Council meeting September 28.
“In lay terms, the new ordinance will allow residents to have small solar projects on their property, but future large ground mounted solar projects will essentially be limited to areas that cannot be used for anything else, that will not be visible to neighbors or passersby on public roads, and that will not involve clear cutting of trees,” Anderson said. “We believe this aligns with the views of most Burrillville residents.”
“I desire to continue moving Burrillville forward in a fiscally responsible manner. I am probably considered a bit of a budget hawk, but for me it all comes down to value,” he said. “Whether it’s $1 or $1 ,000,000, the taxpayer money spent should have more value than any of the other possible ways that it could be spent, or not spent.”
Anderson listed his priorities as follows:
– Balancing Burrillville’s rural character with sensible growth per the comprehensive plan.
– Getting the most value out of every dollar spent, keeping tax rates stable and limiting debt.
– Exploring all possible sources of funding to augment ARPA and town funds.
– Supporting the town administration with the right people in the right positions doing the right things.
– Replacing key management positions with quality leaders as retirements create vacancies in the next four years.
– Continuing to serve an excellent and effective Town Council where partisanship is all but absent.
“Abraham Lincoln said during his reelection in 1864 that it’s best not to change horses in the middle of the stream,” he said. “I think the same thing is true for the Town Council and encourage you to return Dennis Anderson, Don Fox and Steve Rawson to the Town Council. I must say that I will miss my Democratic colleague Amanda Gingell very much. As respects my own re-election, I think it speaks volumes that I have the support of my two Democratic colleagues on the council as well as my fellow Republicans.”
“The two non-incumbents on the ballot are Dave Houle and Stacy Slekis. I was on the same Charter Review Commission with Dave Houle in 2015-2016 and feel he would be a good addition to the Town Council,” Anderson said.
“I know very little about Stacy Slekis. I know she has not been on any boards and commissions and that I’ve only seen her at part of one town council meeting in the last four years,” Anderson said. “I was disappointed with the assertion she made that the Town Council was going to use taxpayer money for litigation related to the large capacity magazine legislation. It was perfectly clear at the part of the meeting she attended that was never going to see the light of day. To lob that out there months later for the uninformed to latch onto is – using today’s vernacular – misinformation or disinformation, which needed to be called out. If Ms. Slekis is elected, I would hope to have the same positive relationship I have with my current Democratic colleagues, however the above was starting on the wrong foot.”
“If you’re looking for honesty, integrity, knowledge and experience from a fairly smart guy that treats taxpayer money like his own, vote for Dennis Anderson.”
A GREAT RESPONSE for a true leader to make. Real Leadership, has great value in serving the community. What a model to show Washington D.C. While THEY may never notice the successes “down on the ground where we live” there is always HOPE they might relearn “All Politics is Local.”
Dennis is an invaluable member of the Town Council and one with whom I am proud to serve. His dedication in retirement to doing public service, while he and his wonderful wife attend to a growing brood of grandchildren is something to watch and admire. I can only hope to be re-elected to my final term on the Burrillville Town Council along with Dennis. Thank you for your service, my friend.