Jul 28, 2014

LIVE BLOG: SK School Committee, Town Council Forum

Patch will be live at Narragansett Town Hall to provide coverage of tonight's Q&A and candidates forum for South Kingstown School Committee and South Kingstown Town Council.

LIVE BLOG: SK School Committee, Town Council Forum

5:55 p.m. - Hey folks! I'm on my way over to town hall right now, so if you'd like to get a jumpstart on this, feel free to bookmark this page. We'll be updating throughout the night as the forum progresses.

South Kingstown School Committee candidates are scheduled to speak from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The town council session follows from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Curious about when other sessions are? Check out this article. (We will also be blogging from them.) If I can, I’ll also be taking some photos, and we should have video of the debate to put online for tomorrow morning.

Want to be e-mailed when we have new Election 2012 content? Click the “keep me posted!” button at the bottom of this article.

6:36 p.m. – I’m now settled in, and we’re about to start. From left to right on the dais.

6:38 p.m. – We’re now on to opening statements, starting with Jonathan Daly-Labelle.

(Also, in advance, I apologize for any typos – Due to the live nature, we will make some here and there.)

“If I were to win, I think a key piece is to have respect for everybody who wants me involved. With the school committee, that’s parents, teachers, taxpayers.”

Second statement is from Elizabeth Morris.

“Thanks very much for the opportunity to bring our statements and thoughts to this forum.”

“We were asked today to discuss what motivations and values prompt us to run for election.”

“I’m a strong believer that education is needed for all children.”

“We need to make sure that we’re using the funds we take in a responsible manner.”

Third statement is from Keith Vorhaben.

“I’ve been attending school committee meetings for a little more than tow years now.”

“I’ve enjoyed by time there [on professional development subcommittee].”

“It’s been entertaining and educational, and I feel like I’ve been bringing a voice to the school committee that hasn’t been there.”

Fourth statement is from Roland Benjamin – not Ronald, as the moderator mistakenly pronounces. He begins with a light-hearted complaint, noting that tonight is his anniversary.

“I bring a lot to the conversation, I run a business, own a business, and I have a hundred employees. I understand what it’s like to run a large organization … but also to deal with something as complicated as children.”

Next is Michelle Rousseau Cavallaro.

“I have 36 years experience in education, I’ve taught junior and senior high school, and I currently teach at the college level.”
“I’m a firm believer in neighborhood schools, and I strongly believe that the town of South Kingstown must recruit and retain highly trained educators.”

Finally, Scott Mueller, who mentions his 20 years serving on the school committee.

“I want to thank the voters of South Kingstown for their support in the recent primary.”

“South Kingstown continues to offer excellent education opportunities, but challenges remain.”

“I’m a trained mediator and anger management consultant for the past 30 years.”

 (Also, in advance, I apologize for any typos – Due to the live nature, we will make some here and there.)

6:42 p.m. – First question goes to Roland and Michelle, and it’s about the code of conduct and other such policies recently enacted.

Michelle answers first.

“We’re preparing our young people for careers that don’t even exist today. And in order to do so [prepare for careers that do exist] our policies need to be revised.”

Roland answers after Michelle.

“One of the things I saw was the incredible struggle to work with the actual mechanics of that. But one of the keys was to have a singular goal to get at.”

“If it’s to get at a macro-regulation (race to the top), then compliance shouldn’t be the goal.”

“There is some value that has come out.”

6:45 p.m. – To Liz and Jonathan, how has the federal race to the top funding affected learning for students in South Kingstown?

Liz is first to answer.

“There were so many different pieces to it, some were the evaluations that we just talked about.”

“We wanted those funds to upgrade the computers.”

“Speaking about what goes on in the classroom, I think it’s more for the evaluation system.”

Jonathan next.

“As I understand race to the top, it’s basically tightening things up with No Child Left Behind.”

“I think a lot of it is coming from quite a bit of testing, and what I hear from educators is that their hands are tied. More and more of their teaching is guided toward testing.”

“I think there should be as much creativity as possible and that educators should feel valuable.”

6:48 p.m. – Next question for Keith and Scott, about the goals for the school committee.

Scott answers first.

“The most important thing that the school committee can do is focus on student outcomes.”

“The activities that we engage in should have a single outcome … which is making a difference in terms of student readiness to exit from our public schools to post-secondary education and roles in the community.”

Keith answers next.

“If we had an endless supply of money, we could do a lot of creative things, but we simply don’t. There are mandates coming down.”

“South Kingstown is losing funding and continuing to lose funding, so I think the challenge facing the school committee [will be dealing with this].”

“I think this will require communication with the tax base.”

6:50 p.m. – Next for Roland and Scott. How has the Rhode Island pension crisis effected the South Kingstown School Department?

Roland speaks first.

“We keep having to address it each year.”

“Funding is a critical challenge for this school system going forward.”

“We’re dealing with an organization that is fairly stable with its revenue stream. We’re not talking about the business I run.”

“These burdens are predictable and known, and you map out a course to get through this challenge.”

Scott next.

“To some degree, the question presumes that the crisis has been solved, which isn’t true.”

“The immediate response provided some relief in the short term, but that immediate response has been challenged in the court system.”

“The ultimate resolution lies before us. For South Kingstown, the most immediate impact is budget on the educational process, but beyond that we have employees that have been affected by the short-term solution, including employees that have lost what they’ve relied on.”

6:53 p.m. – Next question to Michelle and Liz – Any further need for school consolidation?

Liz says she’s a very strong supporter of neighborhood schools.

“Right now I don’t see any further need to close schools.”

“The budget as far as the part we have some control over, that’s over and above salaries and electricity, there’s not a lot left there to work with.”

“As far as the immediate question, no.”

Michelle answers next.

“As far as consolidating schools, I don’t see any need in the immediate future.”

“I think in a community the size of South Kingstown geographically, it’s not a good idea to be taking children from the far ends of the community and putting them on a bus to go to school.”

“If I was elected to the school committee, I would look into whether there are any other opportunities to consolidate services.”

Keith decides to use his option to reply to this question.

“I’m not for consolidating as far as closing a school.”

“I do see financial constraints that are going to make it a conversation, there are no two ways about that. That’s why I think it’s important to engage the community and see what they find important.”

“I’d like to see us have a more streamlined process [for finding savings].”

Jonathan also elects to speak on this issue.

“People running things weren’t very upfront with how they were going to handle [past consolidations].”

“One of the main reasons I’m running is that this is how decisions are made – they’re rushed.”

Roland speaks.

“If there is a discussion about consolidation, it should be at a long range planning level, and not a reaction to a budget blip.”

“It is something that drew me into the conservation, whether we’re talking about consolidating or closing a school or closing down sports.”

“These tend to be reactionary things to simple inputs.”

6:58 p.m. – Next question to Keith and Jonathan. Do you have any ideas for alternative funding that would decrease reliance on communities need for property taxes?

Keith says that it’s guaranteed the district will have reduced funding.

“Our community is going to have to engage in a frank conversation about what we find valuable.”

“I think there are services that are near and dear to every family that are paid for by the taxpayers, and we have to have a conversation about shifting that funding, whether it’s sports or arts or busing.”

Jonathan speaks.

“I think we need to deepen our alliance with URI, to strengthen our bond with students.”

“Could there be some funding to look into that [alternative revenue streams] at the state level? Unfortunately there wasn’t much feedback on that.”

“All the intelligence shouldn’t come from the seven South Kingstown School Committee members. We need to come to the community.”

7:02 p.m. – How are the regular public schools and charter schools working in South Kingstown? To Keith.

“They’re not.”

“The charter schools will be sending students to our high school. I’m not sure how much interaction there is between our two school systems.”

“I’d like the charter schools and public schools to be playing by the same rules.”

“They’ve been a burden to the public school system by taking funding away. I think they’re doing a terrific job, but they’re not open to all the students of South Kingstown.”

Roland answers next.

“It provides in South Kingstown a different form of education for some kids. It comes at a cost and its not without its problems.”

“It’s putting different types of financial strains on the system, but it’s not really any different than providing a different opportunity for somebody.”

Scott answers next.

“I think that Keith’s brief opening, we’re probably not working that well together, is a fair thumbnail.”

“The idea of a charter school is to provide an alternative.”

“There is some threat provided by the charters, because we are guaranteed to lose $400,000 a year with the adoption of the state aid formula.”

“Declining enrollment, we lose for the per pupil cost, and the same applies if students leave to charters.”

7:06 p.m. – Eighth question goes to Michelle and Jonathan – How do you encourage public participation in school committee affairs?

Michelle: “The public should be welcome at school committee meetings and participating at school committee meetings freely.”

“I know there has to be some kind of… control is the wrong word to use, but some sort of organization.”

“I think our school committee has done a good job of opening themselves to the public and at the same time not having the public comments taking over the meeting.”

Jonathan next.

“Unfortunately I have to disagree with Michelle. I don’t think this current school committee has done well in communicating with the public.”

“The voices from the community don’t matter that much. They don’t keep people from speaking, but they don’t really respond.”

“I don’t think they’ve done a good job engaging in that way.”

“I think the school committee could do a better job of reaching out to the public.”

“’Come on in, we’d like to hear from you.’ I think a lot more could be done, and it doesn’t have to be complicated.”

Liz also wants to speak on the issue.

“I think that we do a lot of outreach and we continue to work on that. It can be challenging to find ways to reach out to the community. We have a listserv, and our superintendent is on Twitter.”

“There have been periods when there is a hot topic, quote unquote, when our community comment has gone on so long that our regular business doesn’t get done.”

“We’re currently working on other ways for the community to have open discourse.”

Roland also speaks about it.

“We’ve had pretty wild swings in terms of engagement from the community.”

He speaks of meetings going until 1 or 2 a.m., but also, other subcommittee meetings not getting much of a response.

Keith talks about it. (Side note: The moderator can not say his last name for some reason.)

“I always felt like I was welcomed, that I was being listened to. As far as the three minute issue, that’s in the bylaws, because there has to be some structure when you’re hosting a meeting with 200 people.”

“I don’t think anyone would dispute the need to have some structure. My experience has always been positive.”

7:12 p.m. – Next question to Scott and Liz. What are your experiences with negotiation? Give relevant examples.

Scott: “I’ve been on school committee for 20 years, and I’ve been involved directly in negotiations with the union for all of those years.” He also relies on his background as a mediator.

Liz Morris next.

“I did negotiate contracts at that time [in past when she worked in hotel industry].”

“I don’t have nearly the experience Scott does, but I try to absorb whatever knowledge I can from him.”

“I try to study the contracts we have in place.”

Jonathan elects to speak.

“I’m in real estate, I sell properties for a living, so I deal with people in very important times in their lives, when they’re ready to buy or sell.”

“I’ve been doing this for 19 years, I think the skills that I’ve learned or acquired are to listen to people, to be respectful to people, and it’s taught me a lot about patience.”

“When people feel like they’re being heard, when they’re being valued … it’s just something I deal with and something I feel like deal with.”

7:16 p.m – Lightening round! Yes or no questions.

Would you allow principals (at their discretion) to add bonus pay based on merit? Jonathan no, Liz yes, Keith no, Roland yes, Michelle no, Scott no.

Do you support the new education state aid formula? Jonathan yes because it brings stability, but still can be improves. Liz no in its current form, SK took hits it shouldn’t have. Keith no, because they removed transportation funding from the formula. Roland no, because SK earners pay a disproprionate amount of income tax. Michelle no, because SK took a big hit on that and it needs to be revisited. Scott supports a funding formula, but the one we have now is badly flawed.

Would you lobby the legislature to allow the state to purchase health insurance for all employees? Jonathan says he doesn’t have enough info to answer properly. Liz would want to see the long-term analysis. Keith agrees with Liz, but the devil is in the details and he’d have lots and lots of questions. Roland no, because SK municipal pension plans are managed better than the state plans. Michelle no, because teachers would be hit hard. Scott now, because of the poor record of state negotiators.

Fourth question – Do you report school vouchers for charter or private schools? Jonathan and Liz, no. Keith, no because of the financial ramifications. Roland, yes. Michelle, no because she’s a public educator that believes in public education. Scott, no.

Do you approve of the school committee’s recent decision to hire a police officer to attend meetings? Jonathan, no, poor usage of funds. Liz, yes, because they did receive concerns from the public. Keith, yes, my opinion is based on the May 8 meeting which is accessible from the school committee website. Roland, no. Michelle, I can’t answer because I’d need more information about why the decision was made. Scott, in fact the school committee didn’t make that decision, but they have a responsibility based on the concerns of the public.

Should meetings be televised live? Jonathan, yes, I think it should be in the bylaws that they’re televised, not necessarily live. Liz thinks having them available through the computer is acceptable, cost is prohibitive for live. Keith thinks online streaming is fine, as does Roland. Michelle doesn’t think they need to be televised live as long as they’re available to the public. Scott agrees with Michelle, Keith and Roland as well.

7:24 p.m. – Final question for everybody before closing statements. Do you have any ideas for how the school committee can change doing its budget?

Scott wants the creation of a budget committee, which would include community members and someone from the town council.

“I think there is a research base that provides evidence that this would strengthen the budget process.”

Michelle next.

“I personally don’t have any ideas on how to change the budget process, but there should be input from the community and the town council.”

Roland: “I think the budget process needs to look further ahead than one year.”

Keith: “What frustrates me is that as the budget is being put together, there are still variables that are undefined because they’re coming from the state.”

“You have to make a budget with all these contingencies. I wish Providence could give us some clear definitions.”

Liz: “I’d like to see some more input from the town council when it comes to the early stages of the budget process.”

“Things come up and come down from Providence that aren’t small amounts of money.”

“I would echo what Roland said about looking a little further out than we do now.”

Jonathan: “We need to look at facility use.”

“School committee members really need to look at the potential, looking down the road, for decisions that need to be made.”

7:29 p.m. – Closing statements now. Scott is first.

“I’m asking for your support on Election Day.”

Michelle: “I think this school community serves three constituencies – students, teachers and staff, and community members.”

“I ask for your vote on November 11 – I mean, November 6, I’m sorry.”

Roland: “I’ve got unique strengths in several of those areas, I do have children, but a lot of people have children. I’ve coached more than 300 children and 20 different teams.”

“My business with 100 employees was selected as one of the best places to work by Providence Business News, which I think gives me a unique perspective.”

Keith: “Thanks for this forum – I actually learned a lot, sitting up here.”

“I spent a year at the subcommittee level, and that was very informative, and I’ve had the opportunity to be appointed to the school committee, which has been very humbling and I hope the voters allow me to continue.”

“I think we’re doing a pretty good job, I think we have room for improvement … I think if we come together as a community we have an opportunity to improve.”

Liz: “I would encourage anyone who has a question … I’m easy to find, give me a buzz.”

“I’ve worked very hard over the past six years, we’ve had a very difficult time … We have to hire a new superintendent, we had race to the top.”

“I think we’ve navigated it well, and I’d like an opportunity to continue.”

Jonathan: “When we look at the problems in our country, I think it’s because the two-party system isn’t working really well.”

“I think that it can be handled much better if there is mixed representation, there will be more dialogue and questions asked and answered.”

“Through all that conversation, our school system will become stronger.”

7:37 p.m. – That finishes up the first forum! Town council is scheduled for 8 p.m.

7:59 p.m. – We’re a few minutes from going live. A representative from the League speaking now.

8:03 p.m. – The moderator is going over the rules and what not right now. To begin, open statements, John Uhl going first.

“I decided to run for town council based on an op-ed in the Providence Journal, asking for people to run for office at the local level.”

“I believe in my skill sets to solve the tough problems we’re facing.” He mentions his experience managing finances for a variety of institutions.

Thomas Browning: “I’m part of the 11th generation of my family to live and farm in this town.”

“My career has led me through very exciting positions, including serving as the executive direction of the National Association of Small Businesses.”

“I’ve learned the trials of small businesses.”

“Since our economy relies on small businesses and the University of Rhode Island, I think it’s important.”

Ella Whaley: “I’m a retired schoolteacher who served the North Kingstown schools for 33 years.”

“I am seeking re-election because I have a love and a passion for this community.”

“I support neighborhood schools, and boy scouts and girls scout … I’d welcome your vote on November 6.”

Andrew McNulty: “I’m a 10-year resident of South Kingstown, and a dedicated father and now, grandfather.”

“I look forward to participating in this forum and answering any questions people might have.”

Jim O’Neill: “I’m a small business owner, therefore I think I know just how difficult the business environment is in Rhode Island.”

“The University of Rhode Island is being starved to death by the state.”

“As you know from this past year, we can’t turn our backs for a minute on Smith Hill. They’re constantly placing our economy and businesses on the defensive.”

Fred Frostic: “I believe I have strong experience in planning and budgeting … I’d like to use those skills for the town.”

“I think it’s important that we set objectives for where we’re going.”

Margaret Healey: “I strongly believe in South Kingstown. I’ve lived here and worked here for many years, and my husband’s family has been here for many decades.”

“I have been an active voice in the community for several years.”

“I’m very passionate about giving back to the community.”

Paul Donnelly: “I’ve mainly been involved in the management of businesses.”

“Being part of that has taught me about managing people and developing a dialogue with people.”

“I’ve been part of the process of developing solutions with people around the table at the time.”

Carol Hagen McEntee: “I’ve been a lawyer for 26 years … I’m also a business owner, and I’m the incumbent South Kingstown Town Council vice president.”

“We’ve balanced cutting taxes with maintaining services.”

Sean O’Donnell: “Professionally, I’m a staff pharmacist at the University of Rhode Island.”

“Over the last 10 years, I’ve coached a lot of Little League and American Legion baseball in town.”

“It’s the knowledge about advanced economic models that I hope I can bring to the town.”

8:15 p.m. – First question: If you’re an incumbent, name a proposal that you’ve pushed through. If you aren’t, what would you impose?

O’Donnell: “I’m an advocate of allowing all municipal employees to have a high deductible health plan.”

Donnelly: “I’m interested in the growth of business for our tax base.”

“We’re not going to have strip malls everywhere.”

“I think downtown Wakefield has become much more vibrant, and I think the town and the council has to promote business, to increase our tax base, and also, more people living in town will increase our town base.”

McEntee also requests to answer that question.

“I put forward the resolution to initiate the public safety response to the severe erosion in Matunuck.”

“I was very active in introducing a resolution that eventually got the movie Moonrise Kingdom into South Kingstown, which made money for the town and businesses.”

“I’m proud of both of those initiatives.”

8:18 p.m. – Next question – Do you support an escape road in Matunuck?

O’Neill: “We’ve now spent many years with Coastal Resources about whether to put that wall up or not.”

“What do we do about our first responders? We have to make sure they’re safe. Is a road the best idea in this case? It probably is.”

Healey: “I think first and foremost the thing we have to worry about is the safety of the people there, and their ability to get out of the area.”

Browning: “As a resident of Matunuck Beach Road … I have a hard time getting past the idea that the town’s commissioned engineering report said it would increase the amount of erosion.”

“You’re armoring the highest point of the road there.”

“I think spending money on the wall at this time is a waste of money, time and effort.”

Uhl: “I live down on Matunuck Point, and I have to agree with Mr. Browning.”

“It’s unconsciousable that between the town and the state, we can’t figure this out.”

8:22 p.m. – Next question goes to Uhl and Whaley. There are empty storefronts on Main Street and the South County Commons. What can the council do to encourage small businesses?

Whaley: “One of my goals is to encourage economic development.”

“My plan is to meet with businesses and find out what we need.”

“We’ve done some re-zoning to allow some businesses to re-enter the palisades mill.”

“I am thrilled to say that Main Street has flourished with theater and films.”

Uhl: “I think we need to understand how revenues work.”

“As I understand it, revenue was down 40 percent at East Matunuck State Beach this year.”

“We need to take a hard work at what we have an impact with small businesses, and signage.”

O’Donnell: “It’s no secret that Rhode Island in almost every category has a horrible business climate.”

“It’s somewhat shocking to me that town councils across the state do not directly confront legislators in their own town to make Rhode Island a business friendly state.”

8:25 p.m. – Next question goes to McEntee and Browning. How does SK meet affordable housing standards?

McEntee argues that affordable housing should be bundled into any new developments, that the town needs to work with developers.

Browning: “Unfortunately for our town, most of the low-income housing is concentrated in Peacedale, in violation of federal regulations, and I think the ACLU would love to be able to come into town and tell us we need to disperse that.”

8:27 p.m. – Question: What’s your vision for Dale Carlia Corner?

Frostic: “I don’t really have a good vision for it.”

McNulty: “I would want to consider a rotary type intersection there as opposed to four-way intersection.”

8:28 p.m. – Lightning round!

Will you support the healthy design town initiative and changes to the comp plan? McNulty and O’Donnell say no, all other eight candidates say yes.

Are you in favor in consolidation? Browning yes, Whaley yes and we already do it with many, McNulty yes, O’Neill yes and frankly we’re leaders in the state, Frostic yes and wants to look at combining with NK and Gansett and consolidation of school curriculums, Healey yes, Donnelly yes, McEntee yes, O’Donnell I’m not against it, but a lot of national studies have shown it has been met with mixed or moderate success, Uhl yes.

Would you support a fifth retail liquor store? Whaley yes as long as there is a process so that other people in town can apply and it is left to council discretion, McNulty and O’Neill yes, Frostic yes, Healey yes, Donnelly yes but the process should be open and fair, McEntee yes but with a fair process with all the plans coming forward, O’Donnell yes, Uhl yes, Browning yes absolutely and I thought we had a good proposal from the high end wine shop that wanted to setup in the Commons, but they didn’t get it.

Should the council have control over specific SK School Committee items? McNulty yes, O’Neill no, Frostic no because it’s a complex process that’s probably outside the council’s authority, Healey no because we have elected school committee members who are perfectly capable, Donnelly no, McEntee no because we’re prohibited by statute, O’Donnell no but there should be some healthy friction, Uhl and Browning no, Whaley no because by law they have no jurisdiction but a budget committee would be good.

8:36 p.m. – Back to regular questions. What are the two most important issues facing SK?

Healey: “One would be making sure the town grows and thrives in the budget process.”

“Second would be making sure town businesses can thrive.”

Browning: “The most common issue that people bring to me is that for the amount of taxes we pay in South Kingstown, we’re not getting enough services.”

O’Neill: “We do a great job here managing the budget and quality of life here.”

“The governor’s budget was a direct assault on the business in South Kingstown.” O’Neill cites taxes on food and beverage, lodgings and the toll on Route 95.

Whaley: “We have a budget from last year that’s $35,000 less with a 0 percent tax increase.”

“Maintaining the quality of life that we have here in South Kingstown.”

McEntee: “It’s what I call the balancing act – maintaining a low tax rate while offering excellent services.”

“We did this issue with a zero percent tax increase.”

O’Donnell: “Many of the failing urban areas in Rhode Island, eventually we’re going to be on the short end of the stick.”

“I think the suburbs need to elect representatives that will insulate us from these problems.”

Uhl: “The employment in South Kingstown is 28 percent, vs. 21 percent for the state.”

Donelly: “Our senior population is growing day by day – just take a look in the mirror. I think these people need to have services.”

“It’s not a good place in history right now economically. I think those people need to not be taken care of, but to given an opportunity to enjoy their lives.”

8:42 p.m. – Next question asks candidates to talk about the recreation opportunities.

McNulty: “I’m not sure we can.” He thinks South Kingstown is probably already the best in the state, except maybe aside from Barrington and East Greenwich. Donnelly agrees with him.

8:44 p.m. – How do you encourage public comment?

Whaley: “We need to listen to our constituents, and I encourage them to come back a second, third and fourth time.” Mentions that she doesn’t limit people to three minutes.

Margaret Healey has left the dais for an unknown reason at this point.

8:46 p.m. – For the future raising of revenue, McEntee wants more economic development.

“That increases our tax roll and it’s not a burden on the real estate property taxpayers.”

Uhl: “I’m hopeful that if we improve the economic plight, that will help resolve issues.”

8:47 p.m. – What can be done to encourage the development of light industry in the existing town core as recommended by the existing comp plan?

Frostic: “I think we need to look at what regulations we have in place and what processes we have in place.”

“We need to look at the full body of regulations.”

Healey has returned.

O’Neill: “I think an example of what we’ve accomplished is the palisades mill.”

“We’re trying to make everybody understand that we need more taxpayers and not higher taxes.”

“If we don’t have a plan, we’re coming up with a plan to encourage business [via various  committees].”

8:49 p.m. - Second lightning round!

Should council meetings be live again? O’Neill and Frostic yes, Healey yes but take into account the expense, Donnelly yes, McEntee yes as long as it fits in budget, O’Donnell yes, Uhl yes, Browning yes, Whaley yes, McNulty yes.

8:51 p.m. – Do you support or oppose binding arbitration?

Frostic no, Whaley no, Donnelly only for impasses, everyone else is opposed.

Should the budget process begin anew each year without an implicit commitment to maintain the past levels of funding?

Healey no, Donnelly no, McEntee we don’t have to sustain past levels as is, O’Donnell yes because this gets to the heart of why government grows out of control forever, Uhl yes because it’s part of a zero-base budget idea in the private sector, Browning yes even though it’s very tough, Whaley says they need to look at spending, McNulty yes because it’ll force departments to look at and argue for spending, O’Neill no because most of the commitments are salary anyway, Frostic no because the town doesn’t really start from zero.

8:54 p.m. – Closing remarks start now.

O’Donnell: “My strength is that I have an understanding that maximize individual freedom while maximizing prosperity for all.”

“I will work on a fair manner with all of my fellow council members.”

“I want to keep a watchful eye on preserving the quaint manner that South Kingstown is known for.”

McEntee: “I bring consistent and proven leadership to this council office.”

“As a lawyer, I bring in my skills as a negotiator and a problem solver.”

“I will work with local businesses like South County Hospital and URI.”

“I will continue my commitment to education.”

Donnelly: “Our town needs to build consensus and compromise.”

“I hope to be part of that dynamic.”

“I thank you, and I ask you for your vote.”

Healey: “I’m passionate about the town, and I love living here. I’m committed to being your voice. I will work with honesty and commitment to serve you.”

“It’s important for this town to maintain fiscal responsibility without sacrificing quality of life.”

Frostic: “I look forward to serving the town, I’m committed to the town … even though I don’t know what to do with the Dale Carlia intersection.”

O’Neill: “Unemployment is 10.7 percent.”

“Massachusetts casinos are on the horizon, that’s going to be a $100 million hit at least.”

“We have six other cities and towns that could easily follow Central Falls.” He’s then cut off for going way over a minute in his remarks.

McNulty: “The government at all levels primarily uses other people’s money.”

“As a councilor, I will protect your money as if it’s mine.”

Whaley: “I will support our public safety programs.”

“I would like to continue to strengthen our businesses community.”

“I will use my experience and knowledge to advocate for responsible budgeting.”

“Connect the line from number nine so I can serve more time.”

Browning: “We’ve got to choose the direction our country moves in.”

“We’ve got to chose a path that will endure and include longterm solutions to the problems we face.”

Uhl: “If elected I would focus on the economic issues facing South Kingstown.”

“We need to work more aggressively with all factions, state as well, to get people back to work.”

“As I’m retired, this will be my full-time job.”

And that wraps things up! We’ll be back tomorrow night or Friday morning with full video from the event. (At least, hopefully – Fingers crossed! I’m picking it up Thursday morning.)

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