opinion Newport Rhode Island

To the Editor:

October has arrived, more than 4,000 Newporters have already applied for a mail-in ballot. Have you? 

As my Newport council at-large campaign is launched, full throttle, allow me a moment to thank all those who voted for me in the Primary. Your confidence in my capability to lead our great city is gratifying!

First, on the list, I must clear up some confusion. I’ve been told that some voters didn’t find “Beth” on the primary ballot. Please look for my full name, “Elizabeth Evans Cullen,” at the 8th spot on the at-large council candidate roster.

Never before has voting been so crucial. Newport sits at a crossroads, economically, educationally, and environmentally. The pandemic has altered how we work, play, learn, and socialize. An immense opportunity will be lost if we choose to not learn lessons from this collective pause. What do we value? Where do we want to head? Do we have the leadership in place to react and steer our community towards a more robust future? Or, will we remain anchored to old-school, shopworn ways? Voters can decide whether to stay the course and hope for the best or choose candidates with the skills to move in a more fruitful direction.

I do my homework. I know we have great potential on this island. Yet, too many high-growth, high-paying jobs go unfilled. Area businesses are seeking qualified workers. It’s time to change how we see ourselves and start appreciating our value with greater confidence and resolution. Let’s take much more advantage of what’s already here. Let’s tap these sectors that offer fruitful futures: marine industries, healthcare, cybersecurity, information technology, financial services, architecture/design, and higher education.

Don’t believe the myths now circulating. In the forums, we learned that the majority of council and school committee candidates, in both Newport and Middletown, want to study regionalization. If elected, that will be my top priority. Small, overlapping school districts are competing for scarce funds and talent. It’s time to offer our young people a much larger cache of innovative and diverse opportunities for 21st Century career paths in the trades, technical certifications, two-year, four-year, or advanced degrees. 

However you choose to cast your ballots, consider filling the oval for a candidate who has the time, experience, energy, and determination to seek and help implement NEW solutions. I know we must roll-up our sleeves and tackle these challenging issues — economic diversification, education improvement, environmental protection, equity, efficiencies, and accountability.  

I look forward to working full time for you on the Newport City Council. Learn more about my background and forward-leaning platform, visit Beth02840.com, or text/call, 401-207-4624.

Beth Cullen, Newport