CUMBERLAND – Voters in Cumberland’s Town Council District 1 will choose between independent James Metivier and Democrat James Higgins in the upcoming Nov. 3 election to fill the seat being vacated by Stephanie Gemski, a Democrat.
Metivier previously served as District 1 councilor before he was defeated by Gemski in the 2018 election. Though the candidates share a common first name and both have addresses on High Street, their approach to service differs in some ways.
In a recent interview with The Breeze, former Town Council President Higgins pledged to be “polite and vocal,” speaking up on issues that impact the community. Higgins said he gets the sense that residents in the southern end of town feel overlooked, and questioned his opponent’s effectiveness, saying he was “kind of quiet.”
Metivier said he doesn’t “speak just to be heard,” instead advocating for the district by working directly with the people. “There are some people who talk too much. I talk when there’s something to be said,” Metivier added.
Metivier said he has continued to keep his pulse on the issues by attending council meetings over the past two years.
Higgins said if experience matters to voters, he’s the right person for the job, adding that his experience on the Town Council and School Committee will be important during the current pandemic and related financial problems befalling the state. He cited continued fiscal stability, improving economic development, improving schools and creating more recreational opportunities as some of his top priorities if elected.
Higgins took issue with Metivier’s vote two years ago that allowed residents to approve four-year terms for elected officials, while Metivier was critical of Higgins’ vote to rezone Currier Park across from Town Hall with no plan to replace the park.
Metivier said he would prioritize maintaining town ownership of the Kent Street Garage, support the creation of a dog park or possible skate park at the old police station, and support appropriate redevelopment of the Ann & Hope property.
Both candidates said maintaining the town’s open space is a priority, and both said they looked forward to working as a council member with Mayor Jeff Mutter.
Meet the candidates for District 1 Town Councilor in Cumberland
251 High St., apartment 1F
Years in community: 54
Employment: Attorney, Law Offices of James T. Higgins, 1985-2012; legal counsel/legislative counsel, Rhode Island General Assembly, 2010-present.
Education: Cumberland High School Class of 1977; Class of 1981 at Providence College with a bachelor’s in political science and a minor in public administration and western civilization; University of Bridgeport School of Law, juris doctorate, Class of 1984
Community activities/public service: Coach for Cumberland youth baseball and Cumberland Boys & Girls Club; trustee at Cumberland Boys & Girls Club; member of St. Thomas Council Knights of Columbus; Cumberland School Committee, 1997-2004 and chairman, 1998-2004; Cumberland Town Council, 2004-2014; chairman of Board of License Commissioners, 2004-2006; council president, 2006-2014
Family: Two children, ages 29 and 32, and one grandchild, age 3
231 High St.
Years in community: 30
Employment: Business intelligence manager at Amica Insurance, 1989 to present
Education: St. Michael’s College, 1983-1984; Rhode Island College, 1984-1988
Community activities/public service: Cumberland Town Council, 2016-2018; treasurer for Cumberland Crime Stoppers; mentor with Foster Forward, helping disadvantaged youths
Family: Father, Ray Metivier, mother, Joan Metcalf, sister, Michelle Lynch, and brother, Ray Metivier