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SOUTH KINGSTOWN — Just under a year before Election Day 2014, the race for Town Council has its first official candidate.

Joe Viele, owner of Liberty Rentals on Kingstown Road in Peace Dale, announced his candidacy for Town Council Saturday night, during the "Ignite! Southern Rhode Island" event held at The Contemporary Theater Company in Wakefield.

Viele, who has long been a staple of the business community in South Kingstown, said he plans to run as an independent and draw on his experiences as a longtime small business owner.

"As a small business person who is dealing with a six year recession, a set of eyes from that perspective could be helpful," he said.

Before assuming ownership of Liberty Rentals 19 years ago, Viele worked at the company for nearly two decades.

"I think I have something to offer that can maybe help," Viele said in an interview Tuesday. "Balance in any group is a good thing and I think more participation from the business community would be beneficial."

A Wakefield resident, Viele serves as treasurer of the Southern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce and is a former chairman of the board. He also is a longtime member of the town Economic Development Committee, and serves on the board of directors for The Contemporary Theater Company. He said he chose to announce his candidacy at Ignite! Southern Rhode Island because one of his campaign messages aligned well with the main thrust of his five-minute presentation.

"Part of my presentation the other night focused on whether or not people are getting a good value for what they are paying," Viele said. “We may need a lot of the things government provides, but you need to make sure you are getting the best value for your buck."

Viele said he has considered a Town Council in previous years.

"I got pretty involved with the community, but as long as I was raising a family I couldn't do something like this," he said. His children are now grown, so after consulting with family and friends, he made the decision.

Council members are elected for two-year terms. The current Council consists of four Democrats and one independent.

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