Town Council Swearing-in Ceremony

The new Charlestown Town Council was sworn in on November 28, 2016. The ceremony consisted of Presentation of Colors by the Charlestown Police Color Guard, an Invocation by the Reverend Jan Vickory Knost, Opening Remarks by Representative Blake Filippi and Administration of the Oath of Office also by Blake Filippi. The newly elected Town Council then convened their first meeting and elected Virginia Lee as President and Julie Carroccia as Vice President. The other members are Denise Rhodes, Steve Williams, and Bonnie Van Slyke.

As we turn another page in this history of this, our beautiful town, may we also reflect on the ways in which the leadership that we, as citizens, have chosen to direct our town affairs and may we continue to be deeply grateful for the countless hours spent by our elected leaders in our behalf for the ongoing good of Charlestown.
  • Thank you.

    Friends and fellow citizens of Charlestown, I invite you to join me in a few moments of meditation as we celebrate this special evening for our community.

    As we turn another page in this history of this, our beautiful town, may we also reflect on the ways in which the leadership that we, as citizens, have chosen to direct our town affairs and may we continue to be deeply grateful for the countless hours spent by our elected leaders in our behalf for the ongoing good of Charlestown.

    There is no doubt that we live in very challenging times. We are aware of ways in the near future where we will need to be steadfast, calm and vigilant as the days go by. But we know, too, that we will hold in our hearts the members of our newly-elected council as they seek courage and commitment to make decisions for us that will be in the best interests of our town.

    May the Spirit of Life bless the efforts of these, our elected neighbors and support them as they strive to serve their ideals and their love of our splendid community.

    We praise their names and we offer them our commitment and support in their endeavors to reach good decisions, though they be easy or difficult. And may they listen as we bring our concerns and bring them wisdom. Wisdom.

    In the name of all that is holy in the life of all our faiths.

    Amen.

The 19th Century French political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville studied the American experiment. He believed that our strong tradition of local government was the bulwark of our democracy – that by having strong local governments we preserve liberty. His explanation was that at the local level we realize that we own our government. Here, one person can stand up and change the outcome of a vote, or run for office and change the course of events.
  • In 2001 I traveled to Cuba with a group of students. We met with Fidel Castro, and for over five hours, he rationalized the denial of self-determination to his people. Hearing this was sad, but not surprising as Castro was a despot that wanted to hold onto power.

    The surprising thing was that many of the Cuban people I met made the same rationalizations – that they didn’t yearn for the self-rule that we consider such an elemental human right.

    What does Cuba have to do with Charlestown? The 19th Century French political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville studied the American experiment. He believed that our strong tradition of local government was the bulwark of our democracy – that by having strong local governments we preserve liberty. His explanation was that at the local level we realize that we own our government. Here, one person can stand up and change the outcome of a vote, or run for office and change the course of events.

    De Tocqueville believed that we take that knowledge of our ownership of government, and we apply it to our state and federal governments. And it is in that knowledge that liberty and our Republic are preserved.

    Thus, by having an open, accessible and accountable local government, we not only have a very well-run town, but we also do our small part to preserve our Republic so that we will never end up like Cuba.

    Blake Filippi represents Chalestown in the Rhode Island General Assembly