Meet the candidates: Five Democrats look to unseat incumbents
In the 15-way race for five Town Council seats, five Democrats are challenging the incumbents. The Democratic challengers are George Levesque, Mary Meagher, Eugene Mihaly, Thomas Tighe and Kristine Trocki.
Levesque, 61, graduated from Roger Williams University with a degree in American studies. He has resided 33 years in town.
Levesque was born in Fall River, Mass., and grew up in Portsmouth. He has been an assistant teacher, working with the developmentally disabled. He is currently looking for a job.
Levesque is a former state representative who served in the General Assembly from 1997 to 2001. He also logged 12 years on the board of the Jamestown Housing Authority, and was a member of the original playground committee.
Levesque enjoys walking and reading mysteries and poetry. He has lived with family for 35 years. He is unmarried and does not have children.
Levesque is running to advocate for long-term planning and for involving the entire community in decision-making. Currently, he feels the council is responding to emergencies and failing to maintain structures and resources, such as the golf course building. The current council also seems overly committed to the way things have been done in the past and unwilling to take a fresh look at problems, he said.
He has never advocated ending leases for all recreational vehicles at Fort Getty, he said, but he does think the town may want to consider reducing the number of trailers at the park. At some point in the future, the councilors will have to decide how to restructure delivery of utilities and water at Fort Getty, and those decisions, once made, will be hard to undo. The council must weigh how decisions made today will impact Jamestown in 10 or 20 years, he said.
On the wind turbine issue, he does favor building a wind turbine once siting studies have been completed. Levesque is dubious about the turbine’s impact on human health. He said sufficient research has been done in Europe to debunk views that the turbines make people ill. However, coal-fired plants, such as Brayton Point, have been shown to harm human health, he said.
Mary Meagher, 58, graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in visual and environmental studies. She also holds a master’s degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Meagher was born in Worcester, Mass., and has resided in Jamestown year round for 25 years. Her partner, Susan Foote, died in September 2009. Meagher has two dogs, Flo and Eddie.
Meagher is an architectural designer, and also has a record of public service. She served on the Jamestown Town Council from 1991 to 1993. She worked on the 1990 committee to draft a comprehensive community plan, logged nine years (1991-2000) on the Jamestown Library Building Committee, served as chairwoman of the Fort Getty Master Plan Committee from 2004 to 2009, and has been a member of the Building and Facilities Committee since 2010.
She is running for office because the town is on the brink of several key decisions about land use, she says. Meagher believes her training as an architect and her experience as an architectural designer can help town officials establish an effective process for collecting and assessing information, and making solid decisions. Meagher said she is concerned about the process, even more so than the outcome, except, of course, to make sure the town’s environmental resources stay protected and the public has been well served. The task calls for high-energy people who are willing to work together and think rigorously about solutions, she said.
Mihaly has lived in Jamestown for two years. He was born in The Hague, Netherlands. Mihaly is a retired professor and international management consultant. He taught at the University of California Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. He also started the Mihaly International Corporation, which provided management consulting and consulting on international product development to clients such as IBM, Mobil, AT&T and Chrysler.
His public service career began in 1956 with active duty in the U.S. Naval Reserve. During the 1960s, he became a policy planner with the federal Agency for International Development. Mihaly later became a deputy director and then a director with the Peace Corps in Tanzania. He was acting director and then director of the Peace Corps’ East Asia and Pacific operations, and then a director of the Peace Corps’ office of program development, evaluation and research in Washington, D.C.
In Jamestown, he serves as president of the Jamestown Philomenian
Library board of trustees. Mihaly resigned his post as president of Common Cause of Rhode Island in July when he decided to run for Town Council. He has also served as a member of the board of directors of several nonprofit organizations, such as the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence.
His hobbies are reading history and government books, and sports. He bicycles and hikes. He’s also a cross-country skier and an occasional kayaker. He is married.
He is running because he doesn’t think the current Town Council is doing a proper job setting priorities. He agrees with Meagher about the importance of an effective process, he said. As a newcomer in town, he doesn’t feel he has all the answers, but he believes the town deserves competent and effective local government and is not getting it. Mihaly has opinions about controversial subjects like Fort Getty, but he is not crusading on any single issue.
For example, looking at the town budget, he does not feel the councilors are setting clear priorities. Mihaly also has significant experience running organizations both in and out of government and believes his background would be an asset.
Thomas Tighe, 70, the former Jamestown police chief, was educated at Salve Regina University where he earned a master’s degree in criminal justice. He has resided in Jamestown 45 years. Tighe was born in Providence, and came to town to join the police force and came up through the ranks, making chief after 19 years.
He served as Jamestown’s acting town administrator twice – in 2004 and in 2005. As part of his police chief duties, he was also the public safety director, the executive director of the harbor management office and the director of emergency management. Tighe also served twice as a member of the town charter review committee and has played an active role in the church, the community and the police association. For hobbies, he used to play golf, he said, but does not play anymore. Tighe has been married to his wife Anne for 46 years, and has three children and three grandchildren.
He is running because with his knowledge and experience, he would be able to help the council make good decisions, he said. Tighe was instrumental in the merger between the Fire Department and the EMS, and this experience, along with his Police Department work, has honed his skill in talking with people and listening to their views. Those are the qualities he would like to bring to the council, he said.
Kristine Trocki, 42, holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Rhode Island. She earned a law degree from Northeastern University and also holds a master’s in international relations from URI. Trocki has lived 12 years in town. She was born in Bethesda, Md.
Trocki is an attorney and a mediator. She owns her own law practice in Jamestown. Trocki has not held an elected political office. She is a board member of the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce and has served as president of the Rocky Hill School board of trustees. She also belongs to professional associations, such as the Rhode Island Bar Association.
Her hobbies are yoga, cooking, reading and walking her dog. Trocki has a son, Teddy Trocki- Ryba.
Trocki is running because her son is going off to college, and she now has time to give back to the community, she said. She also believes her work experience as an attorney, a mediator and a negotiator will put her in the ideal position to offer solutions on the current issues Jamestown is facing.
She sees several big issues, starting with maintaining the town’s infrastructure; dealing with the controversy over Fort Getty while coming up with a long-term plan that satisfies competing interest groups; assessing the stock of affordable housing and senior housing; strengthening businesses and the local economy; protecting natural resources; and improving education and the opportunities for youth.
Trocki said her goals as a lawyer is to guide her clients through diffi culties and come up with a “winwin” outcome.
The Jamestown Press will feature the four incumbent Democrats in next week’s issue.