Letter: Ruminations on the role of the Hopkinton Town Council

Letter: Ruminations on the role of the Hopkinton Town Council

I would like to thank the voters of Hopkinton who voted for me on Election Day, Nov. 6.

While the five of us had no opponents on the ballots, the seriousness of the future of Hopkinton is no less important. I urge Hopkinton citizens to contact me at scottbillhirst@gmail.com or 401-360-4603, with their concerns.

Political leadership is interesting and how it is carried out differently by the personalities who possess it. It is vitally important that every member of the Hopkinton Town Council realizes that the Town Council consists of five people, not just one. In addition, whomever who is town council president is not the “mayor” of the town, as they have one vote, like the other four members.

The council president is recognized as head of town government, and sets the agenda.

In addition, they do get powers in case of emergencies. The views of the Town Council president are not necessarily of a majority of Town Council members. Most certainly the views of any Town Council majority may not be the same as the general public in town.

The Town Council has an important role in town government. But it is not the only entity that contributes to Hopkinton. Our various town boards and commissions, town employees, as well as private organizations, businesses, and private citizens add to our town. We are part of a regional school district, which the council has no real authority over. Unlike a single municipal school district, the town council does not even the power to vote on the bottom line of the school budget. I am disappointed that the Chariho School District limits the annual omnibus meeting to the school budget. In the past this was not so.

I will now speak as the local Republican leader. As a Town Council member, I will welcome viewpoints from Republicans and non-Republicans alike. While we may agree with some people at times and disagree at other times, we need to try to be civil in our political discourse. Getting back to my party, I would like to thank Kraig Stromberg for his service to our town as the Hopkinton town sergeant. I congratulate his successor, Matthew Urbec. Mr. Urbec’s wife, Rhonda, will be our new director of public welfare. Rhonda showed her interest in the community by running for Chariho School Committee two years ago. George M. Abbott will be returning to the Chariho School Committee, and leaving as director of public welfare.

George has been a longtime friend and fellow Republican. He should be appreciated far more than he is. He is retired from the Rhode Island State Department of Children, Youth and Families, where he had to deal with families under stressful conditions. State Sen. Elaine Morgan, has become a good friend, and is a “people person,” a great ingredient in political leadership.

I hope to have Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, if possible, give me the oath of office, which he did twice as town moderator. While he failed twice winning the governorship, I am happy to know him!

It appears we need to reflect immediately on the Town Council on how we handle public participation. While the presiding officer may rightfully restrict time limits, other council members may wish a speaker to continue. I say this understanding “open meeting” laws need to be followed.

In closing, I congratulate Sharon Davis, Barbara Capalbo, Frank Landolfi, and Sylvia Thompson on their election to the Town Council. The saying for Hopkinton is "Not To Be Silent Nor Off Our Guard," which you don't hear often, but should be reflected on!

Scott Bill Hirst


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