COVENTRY — Jennifer Ludwig isn’t your typical politician, she said during a recent interview. And with a vision for Coventry that includes improved communication between elected officials and their constituents and increased collaboration among school and municipal leaders, she’s thinking that may be a good thing.
“There seems to be a desire in town to move forward,” Ludwig, a town council candidate for Coventry’s District 2, said last week. “That’s what my goal is.”
Ludwig moved to town a little over four years ago, and has since been involved in a number of local initiatives.
In 2018, she was appointed treasurer of the policy council at Child, Inc., where her children attended preschool. She coaches and serves as board secretary for the nonprofit Coventry Girls Softball League, and serves on the town’s sewer subcommittee.
“I invest my time in actually getting out there and figuring out how to do things,” said Ludwig, who works as a director at Fidelity Investments. “That was one of the things that I thought I could bring — I’ve done that in other roles, professionally, and I’ve done that in my volunteer roles.”
Ludwig had never really imagined herself getting into politics before this year, she said. But after learning that the current District 2 councilor, Greg Laboissonniere, wasn’t running for reelection, she decided to throw her hat in the ring.
“I have exposure to some of the hot topics in town, and I have a pretty good record for being a reasonable and forward-moving person,” said Ludwig, who added that she tends to think realistically about issues in order to find solutions.
Improving transparency in local government and building trust between residents and their elected officials are two issues Ludwig hopes to address if elected. She’d like to work on fostering a healthy relationship between the town council and school committee, as well, especially when it comes to budget issues.
“I don’t think we should be going at each other — we should be working together,” said Ludwig, whose triplet daughters just started kindergarten at Washington Oak Elementary School.
Ludwig would also like to see the town become more business friendly. She’s heard from several local business owners that “it’s been difficult to either start or continue business in Coventry,” she said, and that’s something she wants to address.
“We’re at a point here where we have unused commercial spaces in multiple areas of town,” she said, adding that she would like to see those vacant spaces filled.
There’s currently no easy way for the town to gather direct input from businesses, Ludwig said, especially since there’s no Coventry-specific Chamber of Commerce.
“There’s not a central group where we can bring people together easily to say, ‘are there things that we could do to make business easier, or to get people into your store?’” she said. “And because we don’t have that, when something like COVID strikes it’s kind of a free-for-all — there’s no way to actually solicit direct feedback from those businesses.”
She said she’d like to work on creating some kind of business coalition.
Having grown up in a military family, Ludwig has lived all over the United States. She moved to Rhode Island in 2016 from Utah, where she’d been for around eight years. She lived prior to that in New Jersey, and is a graduate of Villanova University in Pennsylvania.
Ludwig ended up in Coventry in part because of its location between her parents in Stonington, Connecticut and her job in Smithfield.
“I could just see us living here,” she said, “so we just decided to start some roots here.”
And while she hasn’t been here long, Ludwig said she hopes her experiences living in other parts of the country can help “bring some new life” to the Coventry Town Council.
“I haven’t lived in town for 30 or 40 years, so frankly I’m not going to have the same perspective as some of my predecessors,” she said. “And maybe that’s a good thing. I’m hoping to bring some new life into some of the council decisions moving forward."
Ludwig is vying for the District 2 council seat against Bradford Mayer in the Nov. 3 election. Voters who don’t wish to wait can cast ballots early at the Coventry Town Hall between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, through Nov. 2.