BURRILLVILLE – Five candidates are vying for four seats on the Burrillville Town Council, and while they have already said much to potential voters in various press releases, you may be wondering how they stack up side by side.
NRI NOW asked the candidates to provide biographic information, along with the answers to several questions. Below are their replies when provided, along with links to the statements they’ve already published wherever applicable.
Name: Dennis Anderson
- Profession: Engineer (Retired)
- Education: BS Civil Engineering NDSU; MBA – Case Western Reserve University
- Years living in town: 20 plus
- Press: https://nrinow.news/2022/09/21/anderson-cites-achievements-experience-ongoing-work-on-council-in-bid-for-reelection/
Name: Donald Fox
- Profession: Owner of Alashan Cashmere Company, a Burrillville based international apparel brand
- Education: BA – University of Vermont, MBA – Bryant College
- Years living in town: 25
- Press: https://nrinow.news/2022/11/04/fox-proud-to-serve-of-work-accomplished-in-burrillville/ https://nrinow.news/2022/09/16/fox-endorses-colleagues-cites-unfinished-work-seeking-reelection-in-letter-to-voters/
Name: David Houle
- Profession: Account Facility Manager
- Education: BS Industrial Management
- Years living in town: 27
- Press: https://nrinow.news/2022/08/17/houle-aims-to-encourage-growth-retain-burrillvilles-rural-charm-on-town-council/
Name: Stephen Rawson
- Profession: Semi-retired
- Education: CCRI & RWC
- Years living in town: Native born, spent 5 years in other areas before age 21
Name: Stacey Slekis, ALMI, AIRC, ACS
- Profession: Corporate Insurance/Financial Services IT Management
- Education: Community College of Rhode Island, LOMA professional designations (Associate in Life Management Institute, Associate in Regulatory Compliance, Associate in Customer Service)
- Years living in town: 17 years
- Press: https://nrinow.news/2022/10/28/slekis-emphasizes-people-over-party-in-bid-for-burrillville-town-council/ https://nrinow.news/2022/09/19/slekis-aims-to-foster-positive-communication-make-residents-feel-welcomed-on-town-council/
If you could accomplish just one project over the upcoming term, what would it be?
Fox: The design and build of a new artificial turf field at Burrillville High School. It would allow more access to a world class field for Football, Boys and Girls Soccer, Boys and Girls Lacrosse and Field Hockey, as well as access to our Burrillville Patriots Football and Cheer program and Burrillville Youth Lacrosse. The new complex will have a generation affect on our town and re-shape the overall recreational plan in town for decades to come.
Houle: Constant improvement of the infrastructure.
Rawson: My new project, Senior Housing, is my goal during the next term. Being a senior and speaking to my contemporaries, I realized there is a need for additional senior housing. With the support of the Council, we organized a committee to study the issues and contracted a company to do a feasibility market study. Our suspicions, of need, were accurate and the study suggested providing an additional 42 units. We are looking to locate the facility on Town owned land on property the has road frontage on routes 100 and 98. With the help of State, Federal and private funding sources, we feel that local taxpayer impact will be nearly zero.
Slekis: Ensuring that our town maintains its rural character is at the top of my list. While economic growth is a key factor for any town, we need to maintain a delicate balance and preserve our land, open space, and protect our beautiful lakes. I don’t want to see our town becoming a city.
Anderson: Repairs and renovations to the Harrisville Mill Pond Dam
Can you name one issue or outcome from the past term that you wish had gone differently? For the two potential newcomers: can you name one issue on which you would have voted differently from current council members?
Houle: I’m excited to join the majority party and while I will always vote, independently, with tax payers best interest, I could not find anything I would vote differently from the past two councils.
Rawson: I can’t think of one issue I wish went differently during this term.
Slekis: As much as I am a gun owner and supporter of the second amendment and our constitutional rights, I would have voted differently on the resolution declaring Burrillville a 2nd amendment sanctuary town. This resolution does not represent the beliefs of all residents and gives many the wrong impression of our town. Ronald Armand moved to Burrillville late last year with a stockpile of more than 200 firearms and told police officers that he paid $500,000 cash for his home on Tarkiln Road because it was in a “Second Amendment Sanctuary City,” according to a police report, telling officers “this was why he and his family moved here and that if he could not shoot on his property, he would consider moving to a place like Connecticut where he would have more freedom regarding firearms.”
Fox: Hindsight is 20-20, but despite that I am confident in the positions that the Town Council has taken and the outcomes of our votes.
Anderson: While it wasn’t really in our control, I did not enjoy the virtual zoom meetings and the inability to meet in person for part of the COVID pandemic.
What single unique quality or skill set do you bring to the board that others running might not have?
Rawson: What I bring to the Council is continuity with my many years of service, knowledge of state law mandates and town ordinance’s is unmatched.
Slekis: I have had the honor of working for one of Rhode Island’s largest insurers for over 25 years, which has been in business for over 100 years, that prides itself on superior customer service. I currently manage teams located in Kolkata, India, Bangalore, India, Canada, and Rhode Island. Throughout my tenure, I have developed skills that are critical to running a town, such as risk management, project management using agile methodologies, driving results through value-driven metrics, and leadership skills that encourage diversity, collaboration, respect, inclusion and transparency.
Anderson: I would suggest that my analytical abilities and commitment to always being very well prepared on any subject item is my strength. I was also fortunate to have a career that allowed me to experience a wide range of industries and people around the world which gives me a background relevant to almost anything that comes up.
Fox: The Town Council members bring a varied, but overlapping skill set to the table. While I am a local business owner, so is one of our other members. It may be my nearly 30 years of international business experience that is one aspect of my business background that is different from others on the Town Council.
Houle: My experience as a business owner combined with 4 years on the Harrisville Fire District Board, gives me a unique perspective on how to bring efficiencies to town departments, and help keep taxes stable. Inflation, and increasing operational cost will constantly pressure taxes to increase. I will always be looking for ways to expand our tax base, while maintaining our quality of life that we enjoy in Burrillville.
Of what achievement – either professionally, volunteer or within town government – are you most proud?
Slekis: When I was offered my current position within my department, we had individual teams that were very siloed and worked independently with minimal cross-communication. I restructured our business practices and workflows, brought the teams together through various team building sessions, and engaged them by seeking their thoughts and opinions throughout the process. This resulted in improved efficiencies and a team that works collaboratively with the vision that we are all working as one to achieve the same goal.
Anderson: I was the conceiver, designer and coordinator of construction for the FM Global SimZone in Norwood Massachusetts in 2010 and 2011. It is a unique hands on training facility for commercial and industrial property hazards and their solutions which won national risk innovation awards in 2012 and 2014.
Fox: I am most proud to have been able to not only keep my home-grown business in Burrillville, but expand it to the point where we built a new 14,000 square foot facility in Mapleville, employing 18 people, with nearly half of those employees being from Burrillville. To start out as a one person operation in the basement of our home on Camp Dixie Road and bring the business to where it is now has been a hard, but fun and rewarding task. I have been blessed with to have some outstanding people along with me for the ride and I look forward to many years to come as a proud Burrillville business owner.
Houle: First and always my family. Secondly, I designed and developed Broncos Crossing. I am also proud of time spent on the previous charter committee and fire district board. With my other board members, we always consider the tax payer and keeping operational cost under control.
Rawson: There are two that stand out, the completion of the athletic fields and track at the middle school. Also, the installation of the welcome to Burrillville sign and area along Bronco Highway 102 at the town border.