Randy Wietman and Mary Brimer know that running a joint campaign for Town Council is an unconventional approach, but say their shared perspective makes them a natural pairing on the ballot.
“It’s just very common sense,” Brimer, 41, said of their shared perspective. “I think the people want to see their Town Council leadership working together, and going out as a team letting them know we’re echoing each other’s sentiments.”
The two met at a North Kingstown council meeting, and Wietman, 59, said they seemed to “sync and think” the same way. Wietman, who is retired, and Brimer, who works as a financial planner, are both Republicans and have received the backing of the North Kingstown Republican Town Committee.
Both also have military ties that brought them to the Ocean State. Wietman served more than 28 years in the Navy, while Brimer arrived in the state at a young age due to her family’s involvement in the Navy and Marine Corps.
Wietman and Brimer both said asset management would be a priority if elected to the council. Wietman said he sees a disconnect between the Town Council and Asset Management Commission, and referenced the former Town Hall Annex, Town Hall and Wickford Elementary School as three “gorgeous, historic, architecturally significant” structures that needed plans to get back on track.
Wietman said he feels most strongly about Town Hall, and he would ideally like to see town operations at least partially move back into the building.
“I get a little emotional about it because I think that every town should have that one building that says, ‘This is who we are and this is what we’re proud of,’” he said.
He added, “The gripe has been that the town doesn’t listen to the Asset Management Commission. I’m not exactly sure why, maybe that’s personalities. But at the end of the day, we’ve got to get better at it because we’re not managing these things properly.”
Brimer and Wietman spoke of transparency being an important goal. Referencing a recent op-ed piece the pair jointly authored, Brimer said social media and inadequate public messaging have led to the spread of misinformation. She said part of her motivation to run is to disseminate important information in a way that can “calm fears or anxiety and emotion.”
Wietman and Brimer have been present for the lengthy public comment sessions concerning solar energy, spurred by TurningPoint Energy’s proposed large-scale solar development.
“It all starts with the ability to get that information out in a medium that is unbiased, uncensored and pretty comprehensive so the town gets good information,” Wietman said. “What I heard in the first month or so, when we first found out about the [TurningPoint Energy] application, is not just lack of transparency but wrong information. Just completely wrong. I don’t know where it came from, but it starts with having a medium that can get that information disseminated properly.”
Brimer has advocated for such a medium at council meetings. She said she would like to see a Constant Contact-style platform to distribute information, and would like the town to have a social media manager. She said having a system that alerts residents directly when a meeting is happening, or posting an agenda on the town’s Facebook page, can go a long way.
“If people were informed of just town business direct to their inbox, then they know that’s a credible source, that it’s reliable, and we could be reaching a bigger population,” she said. “I cringe when I hear people say, ‘I wasn’t aware,’ [or] ‘I didn’t know.’”