NARRAGANSETT, RI — Sara L. Benn is running for a seat on the Narragansett Town Council. The 42-year-old and her husband, Jonathan, have a son, Marshall.
Benn holds a master's degree from the University of Rhode Island in Communications and Adult Education. She previously worked for the university in accounting and as an adjunct professor, currently owns Elevate Barre and Cycle and is an insurance professional at the Hilb Group NE.
Why are you seeking elective office?
Whenever there is a possibility to create change and resolve new issues — I would like to think that my ideas and energy can contribute to such causes.
What do you believe should be done to contain the coronavirus pandemic, and what would you do to lessen its economic impacts?
The coronavirus pandemic is a very new and unique situation - one that even scientists and trained professionals are still grappling with. I am not a trained professional in any of these areas — my suggestion and protocol is to follow social distancing and wearing of masks. In addition, pay close attention to taking care of your own health and doing things like getting outside to increase Vitamin D intake and exercising. Taking care of your immune system is a good way to fight against disease and bacteria. I am extremely impressed with how creative community members and businesses have become with resolving the limitations of Covid. For example, community members have become creative by making/selling masks — turning mask making into an entrepreneurial venture. Moreover, I have taken my cycle classes outdoors and taped on demand/virtual classes — lots of side hustling and creativity from community members to keep small businesses going.
Do you believe systemic racism is a problem in America generally and Rhode Island specifically, and if so, what would you do to combat it?
I think any situation that threatens the quality of someone's life is a problem — However, there is definitely a good majority who do not have the same opportunities at birth. Being born a Native American woman and also having a son who is 25 % African American, I have put a lot of though into this question. In the year 2020 it is naive for anyone to think that everyone is born on the same playing level and has the same opportunities from birth. So the question is not "is it systemic racism?" The question is "what do we need to do as a society to lift up the bottom people who don't have the same opportunities from birth, do we do it with more education? Do we do with regulating companies that hire more people of diversity? I don't have all those answers right now, however — I'm open to working with the specialist and teams who focus on this.
Should the words "Providence Plantations" be removed from the state's name?
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
I aspire to think we are all bringing some sort of skill set or expertise that may better town. All of the current candidates bring a unique perspective — I would like to think that I bring a fresh and energized perspective coupled with my professional experience, entrepreneurial skills, education, and roots to the town.
If you are a challenger, in what way has the current board or officeholder failed the community (or district or constituency)
Failing is not quite how I see it — it is more like an opportunity. Community members are excited for a fresh start, it is a chance to reset values and restore balance.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform
There are so many awesome ideas and agendas that I would like the town to start thinking about. Currently, I am proposing a dog park in the north end of Narragansett. In addition to saving the library and supporting a 4-room rental ordinance.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
Aside from being very dynamic — I am very focused. Most people don't know that I built my company (elevate barre and cycle) from the ground up while managing two graduate programs and working full time. As a result, I have a published article, a growing business, and multiple hobbies. Aside from running my studio, I teach multiple classes and work a full time job in the insurance industry. I don't like to waste time or good ideas.
The best advice ever shared with me was:
Humbly say yes
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I value collective intelligence — collaboration of ideas. Additionally, I am high energy and I have a serious devotion to creating new ideas and making things happen.