HOPKINTON - The town council has been operating with only four members since the resignation of council member Jonathan Osborne in April, but a special election held on Tuesday, July 26, will decide who will fill the seat for the remainder of the term, which lasts until November 2012.
The three candidates in the election are Frank T. Landolfi, David Husband and Edward D, Gaul.
Landolfi, 48, has sat on the town council before. A current member of the Hopkinton planning board, he was appointed to finish out the term of William Felkner from March - November 2010. After his brief stint on the town council, he ran for a seat in the November 2010 election, along with Gaul, but neither was elected.
Gaul lost by two votes in that election and finished 86 votes ahead of Landolfi.
Now that a seat has opened again, Landolfi and Gaul, both running as Independents, each get another shot. If Osborne had served one year of his term before resigning, a councilor could be appointed, but because he served approximately five months, a special election is necessary.
Landolfi moved to Hope Valley 13 years ago. He has been a banker since 1986, after he graduated from URI with a B.A. in political science. Aside from banking and serving on the planning board, he coaches a Chariho Little League baseball team, is the treasurer of the Matunick Beach Homeowners Association, and sits on the finance council for St. Joseph’s Church in Hope Valley.
Landolfi had this to say about his short time spent on the town council last year:
“I enjoyed it. I never thought that I would get involved, but the planning board deals with only one aspect of town. I like the town council because it’s varied. I like public service, and I think this is the best way to give back.”
Landolfi is the youngest candidate in the election, and is very involved in the community. He said that he believes he can have a positive impact on the council, and subsequently the town.
“My personality is such where I really have a way with people,” he said. “I can formulate my ideas and bring them forward, which is what I plan to do.”
One of those ideas Landolfi said he would like to work on is to further develop the town and broaden the tax base.
Husband, 63, was born and raised in Bristol, but has lived in Hopkinton for the last 28 years. He graduated from Providence Country Day high school and then spent four years in the U.S. Air Force. He served on tour of duty in Vietnam and left the armed services in 1972.
He graduated from URI with a B.A. in journalism in 1977 and went on to have an extensive career in the field. He worked for The Chariho Times, then the Westerly Sun for 15 years, and after another stint at the Chariho Times, this time as editor, he moved to the Providence Journal, where he was a copy editor for the last 10 years, retiring in April 2011.
Husband, running as an endorsed Republican candidate, has similar ideas to Landolfi when it comes to development and broadening of the tax base. He was very adamant about the areas around Exit 1 and Exit 2 off of Route 95 as locations that could use more development.
“I think we need to have reasonable development at these areas,” he said. “There is nothing off Exit 2, not even a phone booth. I’m against big box stores, I would hate to see a Wal-Mart here, but some development would take pressure off of the homeowners as far as taxes go.”
He said it is unreasonable for the town to have no banks and only two gas stations, but also expressed feelings about the town maintaining its rural character.
“That’s why people live here,” he said.
According to Husband, the experience of living in the town for as long as he has has given him insight into what the town does and does not need. Also, even though he is an endorsed Republican candidate, he said he would not “play politics,” and would vote for any idea he feels would be good for the people.
“I’m a little outspoken, some people say I talk too much,” he said. “hopefully what I say counts.”
Then there is Gaul, an Independent who narrowly missed a chance to sit on the town council in the last election. The 63-year-old has been a Hopkinton tax payer living in Ashaway for the past three years. He is retired from a 30-year long career at Narragansett Electric, where he was both a field engineer and a labor negotiator. He studied at Roger Williams University.
“I attended town council meetings for over a year just listening,” he said, “and I noticed my taxes were going up but the people weren’t being listened to.”
Gaul believes that the financial well being of the town has not been the main concern of the town council in previous years.
“I am of the mind set that you find out what the people want,” he said. “It’s easy to be the captain of a ship if you don’t let the crew members know what you are doing.”
Gaul said that he could bring the voice of the people to the town council. According to him, he is a “type-A personality that likes to keep things short and sweet.” He expressed serious concern about the people of Hopkinton not being heard while taxes continue to rise.
“I’m very passionate about what I do,” he said. “I have to do it with my heart in it or I won’t do it at all.”
Landolfi, Husband and Gaul will now wait for the results of the vote next Tuesday to see which one of them will sit on the Hopkinton town council.
There will be three locations for town residents to cast their votes: Ashaway Elementary School, Hope Valley Elementary School, and Hopkinton Town Hall. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the day of the election.