2016-11-03 / Opinion


Vote Smith in District 75

To the Editor:

I am writing in full support of the candidacy of Mike Smith, the independent candidate for the District 75 House seat. I had the pleasure of holding that seat for six years. I know exactly what it takes to do the job, both within the community and at the Rhode Island Statehouse.

I did not know Mike Smith prior to him asking my advice many months ago regarding his candidacy for office. Since that time, I have gotten to know Mike and his many supporters from diverse political backgrounds. As an independent candidate, he is now receiving support from Democrats, Republicans and other independents both locally and statewide.

I have been in the company of Mike and his supporters many times during his campaign. I have been encouraged to see that he has the personality to engage well with others. More importantly, I respect that he is taking the high road and not running a negative campaign.

Mike is a young, successful independent businessman. He is not employed by, nor indebted to, any special interest group or organization.

I am also comforted by the fact that my decision to support Mike Smith has been favorably received by members of the General Assembly, many current and former local elected officials, and most of my former constituents.

It is time to have a representative who will give more than lip service to "putting Newport first."

Based upon my experience, I urge the constituents of District 75 to vote for Mike Smith.

Peter Martin
Former District 75 Representative

Challenging Others is Appropriate

To the Editor:

As the election rolls closer for the Newport School Committee, I’d like to take a moment to mention the current members who have always responded and reacted to any issues I have had to bring to their attention over the past two to four years, both as a parent and as an educator. Dave Hanos, Becky Bolan, Dave Carlin, and Bob Leary are “walking the walk.” They take the time to get into the schools and find out what’s working and what needs improvement. They don’t rely only on what they are told. Rather, they investigate a situation and look to a variety of sources to provide them with as much information as they can gather. They make phone calls, send emails, ask about an issue, and then follow through and try to offer support. As a parent, and as an educator, it makes such a difference to know that you can count on them to take this approach.

While I do believe that it is important for School Committee members to support the administration in their school system, I also believe it is their responsibility to challenge it when they see fit. I will not vote for any member who always “goes along to get along,” one who is afraid to vote against their peers. While teamwork and unity are important, so is questioning things that you might disagree with. Challenging someone’s thinking or decisions is not a sign of disrespect. We encourage our students to do this daily. Make a claim and support it with evidence. It’s OK to dispute or question someone’s evidence. Everyone learns in an environment like this.

I absolutely want the people making important decisions about my child’s education to be questioning each other and looking for alternative solutions. I want them using their own experience as a parent. I want them talking to all school employees, not just those at the top. I want them in the schools, seeing firsthand what is happening.

Join me in keeping candidates like this on the committee, as well as bringing in some new members with valuable experience to share.

Melissa A. Turner

Remember Casino Vote

To the Editor:

At the ALN forum for City Council candidates from the First Ward, incumbent Marco Camacho mentioned several accomplishments of the existing council that occurred “on my watch." I guess that is a backhanded way of claiming credit.

However, there is one major accomplishment that did not occur on Camacho’s watch, no thanks to him. In the November 2014 election, Newporters overwhelmingly defeated a proposal to establish a full casino at the Newport Grand.

The successful effort to beat back that gambling proposal did not come easy, or cheap. Hundreds of local volunteers spent countless hours and raised thousands of dollars to defeat it. All of that effort was required because, on a 4-3 vote, the Newport City Council asked the General Assembly to put a casino referendum on the ballot.

Camacho was one of the four who voted for it.

Fast forward to this year’s election.

Susan Taylor, a resident of the First Ward, is running against Camacho. She was so opposed to the 2014 casino referendum that at the last minute she campaigned for the First Ward position as a write-in candidate.

Now Susan is running a full-fledged campaign to represent the First Ward on the City Council. She is eminently qualified to do so. An attorney, she has done her homework and really understands the needs and opportunities facing the council. She will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the position.

And one thing you can be sure of: Whatever happens to the Newport Grand property on Admiral Kalbfus Road, any proposal that comes before the City Council to continue or expand gambling at that site will not have Susan Taylor’s vote.

Roland F. Chase

Council Addendum

To the Editor:

In our letter running in your Thursday, Oct. 27, edition, “An Educated Voter is Our Democracy’s Best Citizen,” we failed to mention that although both the Second and Third wards are uncontested, residents of the First Ward have a choice on the ballot for their council seat. The two candidates can be seen answering questions in a video on the Alliance for a Livable Newport website at newportalliance.org. Click on “Forum Videos.” Their written answers to an online questionnaire sent to all City Council candidates may also be viewed on the website.

Ron Becker, Isabel Griffith,
and John Hirschboeck
Alliance for a Livable Newport

On the Side of Students

To the Editor:

My reason for this letter is to endorse Dave Carlin for re-election to the School Committee. I, for one, really appreciate what Dave has done since his election. He is always on the side of the students with his votes and his requests. Many times he is alone or with one other member, but he fights on even to the point of being shut down by the chair.

Dave is a ray of hope for the students of Newport. While the majority of the committee worry about how they are received, he fights for the students. It is time for the people of Newport to fight for Dave Carlin and a better school system.

Jack Milburn

Candidate Statement

As a candidacy for re-election to the Middletown Town Council, I Antone Viveiros thanks you for the privilege to be a “service to “and “a voice for” you, hoping you will give me your support in the upcoming election.

My past and current endeavors:

Served on the Schools Facility Advisory and Core committees.

Led a voter initiative petition allowing the people to vote on State legislation affecting just Middletown.

Opposed regionalization of our schools.

Opposed roundabouts at two mile corner and Valley Road and West Main Road

Opposed wind turbine proposal in residential areas.

Worked with the East Bay representatives to removal of the Sakonnet River Bridge tolls.

Limited big box stores to 35,000 sq. ft. for new construction.

Amending the comprehensive plan to match our zoning. Taping the Planning Board Zoning Boards, and Conservation Committee meetings, creating transparency. A Tax Exploratory Committee to examine how property taxes are assessed and levied, and to reduce annual increases, making it fair, predictable, and transparent.

Moratorium on spending not approved in the towns/ school combined budgets and CIP budgets, except for emergencies.

Temporary moratorium of development, within the watershed areas. Protecting the sources of all Aquidneck Island water supply.

Antone C. Viveiros
Middletown Town Councilor and

Candidate Statement

Rhode Island’s small businesses play a key role in the state’s economic health. And big corporations provide workers with good jobs.

Yet each year Rhode Island is named one of the worst states in America to do business.

Too often, state lawmakers have done a poor job of listening to business owners grappling with high taxes, regulation and health cost issues.

Not me. As a pro-business lawmaker and a member of the House Small Business Committee, I voted to reduce the corporate income tax from 9 percent to 7 percent; eliminate tolls on the Sakonnet Bridge; reduce Rhode Island’s estate tax; eliminate sales tax on art; and increase accelerated depreciation, to help businesses reduce taxes.

I also voted for the Rhode Island Career and Technical Board of Trustees, which works with businesses to develop student internships.

I owned a landscaping business and my husband has operated a small business for more than 30 years. We know the challenges and rewards of maintaining relationships with employees and customers— all while keeping the lights on.

As your Democratic District 72 representative, I will turn the state’s battered business reputation around. Rhode Island will be a great place to do business again.

Linda Finn
Candidate for House District 72

Candidate Statement

As a candidate for the Newport School Committee, I have enjoyed talking to the families of Newport regarding their schools. While there are many concerns, families have a great deal of pride in their schools. I’m hoping to use this pride to get those families invested in their childrens' education. Getting the families and the community invested in their schools will be one of the most important factors as the School Committee and the Newport public schools work to achieve the goals of the emerging strategic plan. The plan will work to improve the issues that I have heard are the concerns of our families, from less than acceptable test results, high levels of tardiness and absenteeism, communication issues between stakeholders, to low graduation rates at Rogers High School.

We must work to ensure that all children have resources available to them and that families take advantage of these resources so students enter kindergarten on even ground. We need to provide the appropriate curriculum and technology to our students in elementary and middle school. As the students move toward high school, their goals for life after Rogers High School should begin to align with the educational path that they are on.

I ask for your support on Nov. 8 so that I can continue to work for what is best for all our students as a member of the Newport School Committee. We all achieve when our children achieve.

Raymond Gomes
Candidate for Newport School

Candidate Statement

I have had the pleasure of introducing myself and listening to the issues that are important to you while canvassing the 72nd Representative District. Repealing the income tax on military pensions and other retirement income, education, and preserving open space and improving the environment are some of those issues. Many of you are also rightfully concerned about our economy, overall tax burden, and lack of accountability at the Statehouse. As your state representative, I will be introducing legislation to repeal taxes on all retirement income, including military pensions, and to create an independent inspector general to police state spending and make sure our tax dollars are being spent wisely. I will also be fighting for every last dollar for our schools in Middletown and Portsmouth.

I oppose the RhodeWorks tolling plan and will fight tolling passenger cars. I will work to repeal the car tax and will sponsor legislation to give the governor the power of line-item veto.

There are many issues that are important to the constituents of District 72, Portsmouth and Middletown. Please feel free to contact me about issues that are important to you (electkenri.com). I respectfully ask for your vote on Nov. 8.

Ken Mendonca
Candidate for House District 72

Democrats Champion Our Needs

To the Editor:

Every election, for as long as I can remember, candidates say that this is the most important election ever. I recall saying this several times myself. But, it really is very true for 2016. A veritable, historic presidential contest between Democrats and Republicans led by a most able and experienced Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump.

The Democrat Party is genuinely the “The Party of the People” as seen in the many programs that it has advanced and championed over the years: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, GI Bill of Rights, Head Start, Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, Fair Housing, Americans with Disabilities Act, Freedom of Information Act, Minimum Wage Act, and Pell Grants.

The Newport Democratic City Committee urges voters to support the entire Democratic Team, including David Cicilline for U.S. Congress.

In the General Assembly, voters are asked to support Teresa Paiva Weed (Sen. Dist. 13); Louis DiPalma (Sen. Dist. 12); Marvin Abney (House Dist. 73); and Lauren Carson (House Dist. 75).

These are individuals who are sincerely concerned with our needs and will work extremely hard to resolve problems. They realize the importance of economic security, educational opportunity, a healthy environment, safe neighborhoods, and the protection of our rights.

So, please vote for the Democratic Team and you can be sure that you will be well-served.

J. Clement Cicilline, Chair
Newport Democratic City Committee

Candidate Statement

It has been two years since I first asked for your vote and I am struck yet once again by how passionate my fellow citizens are about the issues that affect us personally, professionally and community wide. In my first term I strove to consistently be representative of the community at large, whether as a large group or a neighborhood, or in support of a single taxpayer fighting for his quality of life when up against a large entity such as National Grid. I will continue to be responsive to the needs of all islanders no matter how big or small the issue.

It has been the stance of some candidates to focus on one particular issue such as tax reform only taking into account one section of town or their own neighborhood. It is my belief that reforms of any kind must take a more comprehensive approach, taking into consideration our schools, our infrastructure and providing the highest quality services for the people of Middletown while balancing a strong and smart fiscal plan. My platform is built on strong schools, a safe environment for living and play, support for our aging population and most importantly, supporting a town plan that will live on into the future for generations to come.

Henry “Rick” Lombardi
Middletown Town Council

Taylor Has the Skills to Get the Job Done

To the Editor:

I’m writing to support the candidacy of Susan Taylor for City Council representing the First Ward. Susan is a friend and neighbor whom I’ve known for many years, and I am very pleased she stepped forward to run for the council. As lawyers, Susan and I have enjoyed discussing current events and legal cases from the perspective of a lawyer.

These next years will be critical to Newport for a number of reasons, but I would focus on one project that will surely have an enormous impact: the North End Innovation Hub and the development of the Navy land. As we consider the commitments in these public-private partnerships, first understanding them and then following through to make sure that promises made are promises kept will be key. Susan would be a great person to have on the City Council, bringing her considerable intelligence and communication skills to bear on the job. Her legal training has enhanced her thoughtful, analytical approach to problem-solving and I am confident she will use her extensive skills in advocacy to work on behalf of the First Ward’s best interests.

Susan prides herself on being an active listener. I’ve seen her ability in building consensus, which is sorely needed in the divisive atmosphere in which we find ourselves today (that has been created by the national election). Clearly, nothing gets done on the national level unless and until people can work together toward a common goal. What I find true on the local level is that projects may get done, but the community of Newport may be divided unless consensus has been sought and cultivated in the process. I believe Susan is the best qualified candidate to accomplish this.

I want Susan Taylor to be my eyes and ears!

Pamela Kelley

An Incomparable Nature Photographer

To the Editor:

I was truly grieved to hear about the death of Jack Kelly. As a Vietnam vet myself, we had that indelible connection, though I never met the man, and didn’t even know. Like so many vets, he channeled what was the best in him into proactive causes without touting his honorable service. I got the message. We all live our lives as circumstances demand, but the continuity and preservation of nature is an equally honorable calling. They don’t give medals and they throw no parades; one must take satisfaction in the humility of service.

I moved to Newport in 2010. With my first issue of Newport This Week, I became acquainted with this rare individual. A master prose stylist and incomparable nature photographer, I’ve saved more of his articles than recycled with the newspaper. He actually inspired me.

Early next year, The Permanent Press will publish my original novel, “The Coyote Hunter of Aquidneck Island.” It was Jack who first brought the complexity of Aquidneck’s coyote dilemma to my attention, and, as a writer myself, it was too irresistible to ignore. My bad, I didn’t give him acknowledgment in the first edition, but will correct that if it goes to a second printing.

As a newcomer to the island, it was Jack, through his columns, that sent me to all the naturally perfect sites on our island: Norman Bird Sanctuary, Ballard and Beavertail parks, Sachuest, Sandy, and Brenton points, Gooseneck Cove. In fact, I learned the geography of Aquidneck Island from Jack, not the guidebooks.

Jack, you will be sorely missed. But whenever I see an egret rise out of Green End Pond, I’ll say, “Jack would have loved this.” And because of you, so will I.

James Conroy

Budget Increases Below Inflation

To the Editor:

A number of the new Town Council candidates, primarily Democrats, are promoting the idea that aggressively attracting business to town needs to be a top priority in order to stabilize our property taxes.

There is an easy estimate of just how much commercial development it would take to stabilize property taxes. The present town budget is about $60M. Raytheon pays the town about $650,000 per year in property taxes. This means that Raytheon’s taxes pay for about 1.1 percent of the town’s budget. Assuming all else equal, if the town budget increases 2.4 percent next year like it did this year, we would need to attract new industry which was the equivalent of over two Raytheon campuses in order to keep residential property taxes stable next year. Continuing this logic, to stabilize taxes for just the next five years, would take attracting the equivalent of over 10 Raytheon campuses throughout Portsmouth. That would completely change the rural character of our town. But attracting any less business would not meet the stabilization goal.

Even assuming such a business development effort could be successful, after five years the areas to locate the commercial campuses within town would be at capacity and the residential tax increases would just start all over again. It is at best a short term fix.

I strongly believe in attracting businesses that support and enhance the character of our town, but an unfocused effort to just attract business as a way to stabilize taxes will not work. If minimizing property tax increases is an important goal (and I believe it should be) it is far better to keep the town budget increases at or below inflation by limiting the growth of the size of town government and its spending. For Portsmouth this is quite reasonable because both our state and Town Planning Departments are projecting minimal population growth and a declining school enrollment in Portsmouth over the next 25 years. Therefore, both town government size and expenses, if properly managed by the Council, can be grown at a rate less than inflation without the sacrifice of any town services. Add to this the productivity gains that the town should be realizing from technology, and keeping the town budget increases below inflation is a very viable target – if we elect the Town Council candidates with that mindset.

This is the reason to vote for the fiscally responsible candidates that understand controlling town government size and limiting its spending are the only ways to truly stabilize our property taxes for the long run - making Portsmouth the attractive place to live and work it should be.

Thomas Grieb

Dark Money Distorts Record

To the Editor:

I am writing to set the record straight. Thousands of out-of-district dollars have poured into my re-election campaign from donors who do not care about the pedestrian crossings on Memorial Boulevard, flooding in the Fifth Ward, or kids playing in the street in Kerry Hill.

This money has paid for multiple mailings to voters that have twisted my record and criticized my character. People who know me continue to ask me, “Who are these people and why are they saying these things about you?” Voters in Newport have no idea who these people are.

Dark money in elections is dangerous and a disservice to local voters. The Gaspee Project and the Roosevelt Society paid for these negative mailings and they have little interest in Newport except flipping a district that is represented by a determined and hardworking woman.

I have loved walking in the city talking to voters. It is probably one of the best parts of the job. Newport voters are smart and I trust their judgment.

Rep. Lauren Carson
House District 75

Candidate Statement

To the Editor:

I’m Mike Smith, Independent candidate for House District 75. I’ve knocked on thousands of doors and listened to our neighbors’ concerns. As a father of three, a Newport small business owner, member of numerous chambers of commerce, and a marine and environmental advocate, I too feel the urgency to set us on the right course. To do so we must restore ethical government and create a year-round economy – not one solely dependent on tourism.

My immediate priorities are:

. Quickly establish a process to realign the bridge ramp and expedite the North End Innovation Hub.

. Occupy freed-up acres from bridge realignment, and Naval lands for open space, and business development.

. Speed up completion of incubator hubs and startup business centers.

. Provide tax relief, including the elimination of taxation on retirement income and military pensions.

. Term limits.

. Finally institute a governor’s line item veto – like 44 other states already have!

. Institute education reforms like those that have moved Massachusetts into first place.

. Protect our environment.

We must have a sense of urgency to move beyond the politics of the past and to sail Newport into a new direction of growth and prosperity. I humbly ask for your support on Nov. 8.

Michael Smith
House District 75 Candidate

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