NORTH SMITHFIELD – The five councilors sworn into office Thursday night in North Smithfield represent decades of cumulative experience in town government, and they’re poised to bring positive change for residents, according to their new leader.
Kimberly Alves, the top vote-getter among candidates in an election on Tuesday, Nov. 8, was named president of the board, with the second highest vote-getter, Councilor Douglas Osier, to serve as vice president.
The unanimous leadership vote followed an oath of office administered by Gov. Dan McKee, and represents change for a group led by Councilor John Beauregard for the past two years. Former Councilor Paul Vadenais opted not to seek re-election in 2022, and Stephen Corriveau, who was elected to his first term in 2020, failed in his bid to secure a seat on the five-member council in the recent contest.
“Needless to say, I’m very excited to start this term,” Alves said at the inauguration ceremony Thursday, Dec. 1. “We are made up of individuals with a proven track record. We are definitely a powerhouse, but where do we go from here?”
It will be Alves sixth term on the board, and she promised a more transparent and approachable council in the years to come, encouraging residents to get involved and attend meetings.
“There will be positive change going forward,” Alves said. “The Town Council works for you, the voters of North Smithfield. You will be respected, and you will get answers. We are on this journey together.”
The leaders, including the three, “new,” officials to take their seats this week, are all familiar faces who have previously served in town government. The ceremony marked a return to public service after a six year hiatus for Paulette Hamilton, who served as North Smithfield’s town administrator from 2008-2016, while Douglas Osier, who served one term on the council from 2018-2020, makes his come back after a failed bid for the town’s top office in the last election cycle, when he lost to Town Administrator Paul Zwolenski.
Thursday marked the start of Alves’s second consecutive term following her own four year break from the board between 2016 and 2020. The new council president served three previous terms, winning seats in 2010, 2012 and 2014, opting not to run again – until her return in 2020.
The sole newcomer on the School Committee, Teresa Bartomioli, is also returning to elected leadership, having served on the council from 2017 to 2020.
“They will represent all of us as we move into and through the next few years,” said Zwolenski of the team. “It is with humility and strong passion that I look forward to working with the Town Council and the School Committee as we build a better town.”
Committee members re-elected James Lombardi to serve as their chairman, with member Jean Meo to continue in her role as his vice.
Members of the North Smithfield Police Department and Fire & Rescue Service provided escort and Color Guard Thursday night.
Lombardi thanked all who have dedicated their time to public service.
“As elected officials, we all know it’s very difficult to run, and put ourselves out there in this environment,” Lombardi said.
The chairman cited positive gains in North Smithfield schools since he started on the committee seven years ago, including rising test scores, and improvements to facilities.
“Everything looks great and was done responsibly,” Lombardi said of the school buildings, pointing to upgrades to everything from science labs and locker rooms, to athletic fields at the high school. Improvements at all town schools, he noted, came as a result of cooperation with municipal leaders.
“I look forward to working with everyone to keep moving the schools and town forward,” he said.
Former Town Administrator Linda Thibault served as master of ceremonies at the event, held in the North Smithfield High School auditorium following a performance by the high school band.
McKee cited a line from Rhode Island State Poet Tina Cane’s I love Democracy, about moving, “towards a more perfect imperfection.”
“Doesn’t that say what we’re doing?” McKee asked of the trials of leadership, noting he hopes the invitation to North Smithfield helps to continue building ties between town and state officials. “We want to make sure we have a relationship across community lines.”
Thibault got the last word, perhaps best summing up residents’ hopes for the newly elected group.
“You all did very well in the election,” she said to the leaders. “Now go forward, and do good.”