We-Ha.com is offering our readers the opportunity to meet the candidates running in the Nov. 2, 2021 municipal election.
Compiled by Ronni Newton
We-Ha.com is offering our readers the opportunity to “Meet the Candidate” – designed to help them get to know the candidates running for office in the 2021 municipal election.
Identical questionnaires have been sent to all candidates, and each profile received has been submitted directly to We-Ha.com by the candidate or the candidate’s campaign management. The responses have not been edited but have been formatted to match our publication style. Questions left blank have been deleted.
As profiles are received, they will be published on We-Ha.com under the “Government” tab. We-Ha.com is not making endorsements of any political candidates but we are publishing this information in order to assist voters in being informed and prepared when they go to the polls on Nov. 2.
If you are a candidate and wish to submit a profile, please return it by email to Ronni Newton at [email protected] as soon as possible.
Name: Adrienne “Ace” Billings-Smith
Party, position seeking: Democrat, West Hartford Town Council
Family information: Susie Billings-Smith, wife; Russell Billings-Smith, son; Rena Billings, mother; Patricia Billings, aunt; Emma Billings, niece
Other occupation, if applicable: Attorney/Flight Attendant
Political experience: This is my first time running for an elected position.
Other relevant experience: On a professional level, I am an attorney and earlier in my career a college basketball coach. I believe in reviewing and analyzing the details in order to make an informed decision, because the nuances of legislating can be life-altering for the residents of West Hartford. I take the responsibility of representing individuals to heart because these are my neighbors, family and friends who will be affected, and I want to ensure that I am their voice at the table. As I’ve stated before, I am a believer in collaboration and teamwork. Currently I am a member of the town’s Civilian Police Review Board and formerly the co-chair of the Human Rights Commission. I have also led many efforts in town and partnered with multiple stakeholders which have included the town, the school district, and other community organizations. I led the Juneteenth effort to be recognized in town in 2020 and chaired its board in 2021. I was one of the lead designers on the MLK Jr. inspired mural in Blue Back Square and led the way of the renaming of Unity Green (formerly Goodman Green).
Why are you running for office? I am running for Town Council because I believe that I can continue to help move our town forward. I will remain people/community focused when deciding on policies and making sure they meet the goal of equity and equality, ensuring our residents in every part of town feel seen, heard and represented in our decisions. This includes how our budget is allocated, whether that be the services and programs we provide for our citizens, helping small businesses thrive, or ensuring we are being innovative when it comes to town improvements.
My family and I moved to West Hartford because we wanted to guarantee our children had the best education while also ensuring they were living in a diverse, safe and welcoming community.
Over the last 8 years I have been proud to call West Hartford my home, I have involved myself in the community from PTO to town appointments, and starting an organization that advocates that those very values are a reality for my child, family and neighbors.
What issue(s) are your primary area of focus? I am West Hartford focused at the end of the day. What’s important to my neighbors is important to me. I want to ensure we continue to be strategic and creative in our residential and commercial development, and that we continue to thrive economically as a town, while also ensuring we keep the feeling of a close-knit community, where we have safe roadways to ride our bikes with our children and walk our dogs. I will always support the small business sector, especially those that have struggled through the pandemic, but kept our town open through innovative ways to serve our residents. I believe we must also properly staff our public safety departments and provide them with the proper support they need to keep all of our residents safe and continue the conversations on community relationships. Lastly, education is a huge priority. As a mother of a West Hartford public school student, I have a vested interest in ensuring our buildings are well-maintained and safe and continuing to further support the exceptional teachers and administrators who keep our students’ educational experiences safe, diverse, and focused on their social and emotional needs, as well as teaching them life skills which include advocating for themselves and others.
What do you feel is the biggest issue facing West Hartford today, and how do you plan to address it if elected? I don’t believe that there is just one single pressing issue in West Hartford. I think that West Hartford has room for growth in many areas. If I were to have to pinpoint something that encompasses multiple issues, then it would be infrastructure. We must update our storm water/sewage issue and mitigate the flooding in our area. We also must continue to keep our roads safe and repaired. Also, in terms of the future, we must upgrade our broadband and close the digital gap so that all residents of West Hartford have access to the internet, especially for educational and employment use. Further, we should continue to utilize alternative safe energy where available in our public buildings. Additionally, we need to continue to invest in residential and commercial development. There are a lot of great projects in the works in West Hartford that will continue to make us attractive to future residents and developers, which will help us push forward with our initiative to be a part of the transportation corridor.
I plan to advocate for the issues mentioned above and advocate for fair wages and safe workspaces for workers. I will also advocate for the residents in terms of how these issues affect our budgets in hopes that they don’t affect our taxes any more than they must.
What do you feel differentiates you from other candidates also running for this position? As a candidate, I believe I bring the ability to collaborate with many types of people. I feel collaboration on issues that affect the residents of West Hartford is important to the success of our town. I believe that all issues must be looked at from an equity lens to ensure everyone’s voice is being heard at the table. While it’s important to recognize differences we do not want to lose the ability to analyze important issues. The way I lead an effort may be very different than the way others choose to get their message across and come up with solutions. However, at the end of the day there must be collaboration and a solution. If the other individuals choose not to be a part of the collaborative effort, then I believe they are doing a disservice to our residents.
Anything else you would like to share? First and foremost, I care about West Hartford and its future. I am a middle-class mother, wife, small business owner and neighbor who can relate to the everyday struggles of balancing work life and home life. I understand the daily priorities of being a West Hartford resident, from financial sustainability, to making sure our children have a great education, and ensuring our services and programs benefit our entire family. I also understand the need for feeling secure and welcomed in our neighborhoods and driving down safe and well-kept roadways. I will advocate for all those things, because as your neighbor I am in this with you.
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