2018-10-25 / Election News

Newport City Council Candidates

Jamie Bova

29, single

Resident of Newport 6 years

Electrical engineer

Public offices: Newport City Council, At-Large 2016-218

#1) Whenever I speak with Newporters about the future of our city, the importance of quality of life comes up again and again. Newport is a strong and diverse community and the future of our community is intertwined in how we address our economy and our environment. The City is expanding Newport’s economy with Innovate Newport at Sheffield School and the Innovation District in the North End. These projects must include job training and mentorship opportunities to raise up Newporters and not only bring in folks from out of town. Addressing economic issues also means tackling the rising cost of home ownership and rent, and regulate short-term rentals. We also need to continue working with the School Committee to build up our schools. Newport is facing environmental issues that range from sea-level rise and stormwater run-off to renewable energy to out-of-date infrastructure and streets. All of these issues have potential solutions. We need to act thoughtfully and quickly to determine how to act.


Jamie Bova Jamie Bova #2) A new high school is needed for Newport; Rogers High School was ranked the worst school building in the state. We need to make sure that Rogers High School is safe and viable for the next five to seven years while a new school is designed and built. Currently the Rogers Building Subcommittee, which I am a member of and which includes members of the School Committee, City Council, and members of the public, is working to develop the application that will be submitted to the state. Developing the application includes designing a vision for a new high school and how it contributes to the community. This process will include multiple opportunities for public input and will determine the best location for a new high school.


Marco Camacho Marco Camacho CANDIDATE STATEMENT

In 2016, I ran for City Council for the first time with the desire to make a positive impact in my community. Since elected, I have leveraged my training as an engineer to seek solutions for Newport. I have shown that I am prepared to do the necessary work to make thoughtful decisions, that I am committed to transparency and asking the important questions, and I have worked to be an advocate for all Newporters. We have a range of challenges in the city but we also have a range of opportunities. We need to look at the changes we need to make for Newport to continue to be a vibrant and thriving city year round. I look forward to the challenge of tackling Newport’s issues as a community as we move into the future. I want to continue to be your voice and your advocate on the Council.


Justin McLaughlin Justin McLaughlin Marco Camacho

41, single

Resident of Newport 31 years

Sports Marketing and Production

Public offices: Ward 1 Councilor, 2013 – 2016; Council Vice chair, 2015 – 2016; At Large Councilor 2018

#1) Our city’s recent record growth and investment can also be a double-edged sword. It is of the highest priority that we do not fall victim to our own successes as local wages and job opportunities continue to fall short of the pace needed to keep up with outside investment. Also, “Construction Fatigue” is a real issue in Newport right now so continued infrastructure improvements need to be managed efficiently. The Airbnb phenomenon is applying pressure on availability, affordability, and livability of our neighborhoods and needs to be better regulated. While the new hotel developments will add much needed rooms, it also invites more traffic congestion. We will need a better public transportation system and Park & Ride infrastructure to compensate. We must also be mindful of overdevelopment. Preservation and addition of green space and waterfront accessibility must also remain top priorities.


Hugo DeAscentis Hugo DeAscentis #2 I’d still like another shot at regionalization with Middletown. I was on the original Joint Committee that got the regionalization question on the ballot back in 2014. Four years is a lifetime in politics and I think the economic and social interests of Newport and Middletown are better aligned now than before. We need a new high school but it also needs to be at a cost to Newport that won’t break the bank. Regionalization maximizes the incentives offered by RIDE to as much as 55 percent reimbursement of school construction costs. Splitting the remaining 45% of costs with Middletown is smart money. Additionally, the Crowley MET School would still continue to serve as an alternative. While I’m a Rogers High School graduate myself and would miss the old island rivalry, I believe it is also important to recognize that tradition can sometimes be the enemy of progress.

CANDIDATE STATEMENT

Right now Newport is experiencing record growth and investment. I believe I have the knowledge and experience to make sure it is done right on your behalf, and here’s why: In addition to being your Councilor-At-Large, I also serve on the board of directors for the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission and Discover Newport. I served on the Comprehensive Land Use Plan Subcommittee and the Newport-Middletown School Regionalization Joint Committee. I’ve voted yes on capital improvement projects, city budgets and labor contracts that are disciplined, balanced and forward thinking. These next two years are the most critical in shaping and setting the conditions for Newport’s success and identity for generations to come. Broadway, Sheffield, Triplett, and Cranston-Calvert redevelopments are only the beginning. The North End redevelopment and a much needed Rogers High School repair or replacement is next. I ask for your vote again this Nov. 6.


Jeanne-Marie Napolitano Jeanne-Marie Napolitano Justin McLaughlin

75, married with two children

Resident of Newport 34

Retired Navy

Public offices: Newport City Council (Second Ward: 2007 to 2014 and At-Large: 2015 to 2016); Vice Chair (2009–2010 and 2011–2012)

#1) Among many high priorities, three standout: (1) working with the city manager to address the budget gaps outlined in his most recent budget message to the city council. For the foreseeable future, the city is faced with rising costs that are greater than anticipated revenues. This situation has the potential to limit the city’s ability to adequately invest in many areas; (2) working with the school committee to invest in our schools. If Newport is to have a bright future, it needs to make a major investment in its school programs and facilities (e.g., school repair and/or new construction); and (3) working with the city manager to ensure the Pell Bridge ramp realignment project is fully aligned with the Innovation Hub, Newport Grand and Naval hospital land development; implementation of off-site parking and implementation of alternative modes of transportation; and Gateway Center development, as well as overall impact throughout the city. I would advocate for creation of a community committee to assist the city in its oversight of this project.


Susan Taylor Susan Taylor 
Wick Rudd Wick Rudd #2) I have advocated for school regionalization for over 12 years. Studies have shown that regionalization would have educational and economic benefits: combining Newport’s and Middletown’s high schools would be good for both students and taxpayers. I think there is still opportunity to raise this issue with Middletown and to work with RIDE to explore how the benefits of a regional high school could be a win-win for everyone. This endeavor will require vision, both in Newport and Middletown, and I hope that elected officials in Newport will be prepared to initiate those discussions. If regionalization is not an option, however, than I think we need to build a new high school. I suspect there will be sticker shock, but I don’t think that there is wisdom in fixing up the existing building.

CANDIDATE STATEMENT

I want to ensure that the city council provides leadership, direction, oversight, and, most importantly, vision for the city. The Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Newport Open Space Plan were updated/created in recent years and now it’s time to update the city’s Strategic Plan. The city council should routinely refresh that document: it should provide a statement of vision, goals needed to achieve the vision, a pathway toward achieving the goals, and performance metrics.There are many discrete challenges that will come before the city council in its next term, but the overarching challenge will be ensuring that Newport is an affordable, family-friendly, and multi-generational community. To achieve that we need to restructure our property tax system (e.g., institution of a homestead exemption and tax stabilization), invest in our schools (both programs and buildings), and address quality of life issues that impact all generations.

Hugo DeAscentis

64, married with three sons

Lifelong resident, plant operations supervisor Providence Water

Public offices: Newport School Committee 13 years

#1) I recognize that there are many issues of concern. Some are long-standing issues such as traffic and parking and some I expect will be new, appearing during the upcoming term. All will need review. However, two particular issues stand out for me. In gathering signatures for my nomination petition I frequently heard the desire to keep Newport “small and manageable.” This is a strong part of Newport’s character. As buildable lots disappear, there will be pressure to build taller. So I do not support sprawling development or large out-of-character building.

A second issue is long term financial health. Newport is currently sound and I believe will remain so. However, as budgets are balanced only for the current fiscal year and capital plans are usually in five year increments there is a tendency to push large liabilities such as building and infrastructure maintenance and post-employment benefits far into the future. All liabilities need financial coverage.

#2) Having served many years on the Newport School Committee I will tackle Question #2 and state that back in the late 90’s there was a bond put before the Newport voters to replace the deteriorating exterior with new more efficient “window walls.” I had asked during a meeting if anything else would be needed for the RHS building and was told that the bond would provide for a complete renovation. The voters approved a bond for approximately 4.5 million, renovations were completed but within a few years the rubber roof on the academic wing needed replacement. For me the issue becomes one of proper facility evaluation. I don’t believe the window walls should have failed this soon. It is imperative to first secure an accurate evaluation of the facility before choosing a direction. I would lean toward fixing as it is very difficult to find suitable land within the city. Combining with Middletown would be an option only if both Newport and Middletown were in agreement but operating a facility across two distinct governments presents challenges. Keep in mind future construction and renovation would only be possible if both communities separately approve a bond and de-regionalization may be more difficult than regionalization.

Newport City Councilors were asked to answer the following two questions in 300 words or less:

#1) What issue do you feel is the highest priority facing the city and how will you address it?

#2) The discussion on the future of Rogers High School goes far beyond the school committee. Do you think Rogers should be fixed, moved, or should talks be renewed to combine/join with Middletown? Choice one option and answer why.

Seven candidates are vying for the four open at-large seats on the Newport City Council. Three incumbents and four challengers make up the field, with Harry Winthrop not seeking re-election this year.

At least one new face will be on the council for Ward One. The Nov. 6 election will also determine whether incumbent Lynn Ceglie or challenger Valerie Larkin will be empaneled as the new Second Ward representative for the next two years.

Incumbent Third Ward Councilor Kathryn Leonard is running unopposed.

To learn more about the candidates' views on Newport school-related issues, visit newportalliance.org.

Jeanne-Marie Napolitano

68, widowed with four children

Resident of Newport 51 years

Retired insurance agent

Public offices: Ward 1 Councilor, 1992–1996; At Large Councilor, 2000–present; Mayor, 2008–2010, 2014–2016

#1) Newport has a number of priority issues in the future. We are continuing to improve our infrastructure of city streets and sidewalks in all neighborhoods to provide safe passage for all citizens, young and old alike. We are also very mindful of the rising tides and making inroads through our Water and Waste Water Department to mitigate future damage to homeowners and businesses. We must address the speculative nature of our properties through Airb&b and consider implementing additional measures of protection for year-round residents by exploring a homestead provision, placing a commercial tax rate on properties used for Airb&b and like businesses. These issues should be addressed through public participation workshops. Finally the development of the North End and the bridge realignment should bring about positive changes toward the future stability of Newport residents.

#2) The future of Rogers does not provide only one option. We should be open to listening to the options which best serve first the student, and secondly the taxpayer. The Bond Referendum on schools from the state is the first step in helping to build a new school, but it still requires the council to approve a bond question to local taxpayers before any local bond moves forward. These issues will require public workshops and participation by council, school representatives and the citizens of Newport.

CANDIDATE STATEMENT

Over the years, having served in leadership positions in a number of civic organizations, I represented a variety of constituencies which I believe has given me the necessary skill set to be on Newport’s City Council. The most important aspect of our job is communication with our constituents on all matters, large and small. Various forms of communication are available to most people; however, sometimes it necessitates a visit. Many problems can be addressed and resolved. Others require more time and discussions. Working with a variety of groups keeps councilors informed of issues concerning roads, sidewalks, water and sewer, and sometimes even school issues. I have always enjoyed working with groups and individuals helping to make Newport a better place to live and work. I want to continue my efforts in the North End to broaden our tax base helping to keep our taxes low and diversifying our job market opportunities for our younger generation wage earners.

Wick Rudd

61, single with two children

Life long resident

Financial advisor

Public offices: City Manager Selection Committee – 2011. City of Newport Planning Board – 2012- 2017. City of Newport Comprehensive Land Use Plan co-Author – 2017. City of Newport Zoning Board – 2017-present.

#) I believe the highest priority facing Newport is the projected 25 percent decrease in population and its graying over the next 20 years. Where are all the young people and families? This is a very difficult issue. However, there are things we can do. To attract young people and families to Newport we need to have affordable middle income, market-based housing, good, high paying jobs, and a great school system. The Innovation District in the North End and the Sheffield incubator are good starts. Also, clustered, entry-level housing in the North End, and perhaps jaialai, so young people and families can get a leg into the community. Last, Rogers High School needs to be renovated or replaced. To be a vital, vibrant city, not just a summertime destination, Newport needs these people year round. I think we can do it, and if elected it will be my number one priority.

#2) First, combining with Middletown to build a regional school is a great idea, but there is one problem with it. Middletown has no interest in doing so. I know that many city leaders have reached out to their counterparts in Middletown with no luck. So, Rogers High School needs to be replaced. Renovating it won’t work. It is not cost effective. It is too big, with an outdated “campus” design, and falling apart. I think it is possible to rehab and keep both the gym and auditorium, for two reasons: to save money and because in some sense they are not replaceable. It needs to be tighter and energy efficient. I also think it should be built where the current school is. Putting it in the North End has some appeal, but I have other priorities for that land. This is the first step of many to bring the quality of our school system to the level where it attracts families to move here, which has not been the case for some time.

CANDIDATE STATEMENT

The City of Newport has many challenges, but also many opportunities in the months and years ahead. To name a few: bridge realignment and North End Project, Naval Hospital land, Newport Grand reuse, Pell School overcrowding and derelict Rogers High School, Visitor’s Center, parking, Airbnb, sea rise…the list goes on. I am running for City Council-at- Large because I believe that with judgment and leadership these issues are all, although challenges, great opportunities to move our beloved city in the right direction.

In the Comprehensive Plan of 2017, which I co-authored, it states that our population will drop another 25% in 20 years, and we will be older. Simply put, we need to attract more young people and families to Newport. To do that we need to take a holistic approach encompassing better schools (Rogers), more great jobs (Sheffield and Tech. District) and middle income housing (North End, Cranston Calvert).

We need people on the council that can take these disparate issues, construct an overarching vision, consulting with city residents, where most of the great ideas come from, and come up with a common sense, integrated plan. With my experience on the Planning Board, and current service on the Zoning Board, I hope you, the voters, will give me that chance.

Susan Taylor

67, married

Resident of Newport 9 years

Immigration, civil rights lawyer

Public offices: Ward 1 Councilor, 2016 – present

#1) and CANDIDATE STATEMENT The highest priority for Newport residents is the quality of life in our neighborhoods. Focusing on an open style of government, I’ve worked to improve communication between city officials and residents, organizing community meetings to revitalize the discussion and encouraging input from Newporters as we search for the most durable solutions to the issues. To reinforce the vibrancy of our neighborhoods we need a healthy middle class, which means jobs, housing that’s affordable to young professionals, first-rate schools, and a commitment to maintaining our infrastructure. The city also has a duty to monitor the proliferation of short-term rentals, allowing homeowners to remain in their homes while preventing the artificial inflation of housing prices.

The Pell Bridge ramp redesign is a unique opportunity for the City Council to establish our priorities: nurturing and preserving vibrant neighborhoods, creating attractive space for new economic opportunities based on innovative technologies, addressing longstanding traffic and parking issues while reconnecting the North End neighborhoods with our downtown, and developing streets that are safe and attractive for all users. The solution involves getting tourist traffic out of downtown with easy access to a parking facility located near the bridge ramp, and attractive, convenient alternative modes of transportation around town. The traffic flow should allow for through traffic to use commercial thoroughfares like J.T. Connell, with calming measures on residential streets including Admiral Kalbfus (east of Hillside) and in the Point. It is time to establish bicycle and pedestrian paths throughout the city and on commercial thoroughfares. It’s imperative that city staff and elected officials work together with neighborhood, business and stakeholder groups to oversee this project.

#2) The Rogers High School building is flawed and outdated. The city is doing its best to maintain the structure to provide a healthy educational environment, but we should be looking at a new school building and working with Middletown on a viable solution for a joint high school. Rogers attracts students from as far as Little Compton and North Kingstown to its programs. It makes sense for Rogers to be relocated in the North End. This move offers multiple benefits: more convenient access to the majority of kids in Newport, reducing transportation time for kids and transportation costs for the city, reducing tardiness and absenteeism when kids can walk to school instead of relying solely on transportation; more convenient access to other communities. A regional solution represents a vision for the future and allows for a 21st century solution offering first-rate education in a secure environment.

State Questions

QUESTIONS 1 - 3

(Chapter 047 - Public Laws 2018)

Shall the action of the General Assembly, by an act passed at the January 2018 session, authorizing the issuance of bonds, refunding bonds, and/or temporary notes of the State of Rhode Island for the capital projects and in the amount with respect to each such project listed below (Questions 1-3) be approved, and the issuance of bonds, refunding bonds, and/or temporary notes authorized in accordance with the provisions of said act?

1. RHODE ISLAND SCHOOL BUILDINGS - $250,000,000

To provide state assistance to cities and towns for the construction of new public schools and renovation of existing public schools.

2. HIGHER EDUCATION FACILITIES - $70,000,000

For higher education facilities, to be allocated as follows:

University of Rhode Island Narragansett Bay Campus- $45,000,000. Rhode Island College School of Education and Human Development - $25,000,000

3. GREEN ECONOMY AND CLEAN WATER - $47,300,000

For environmental and recreational purposes, to be allocated as follows: Coastal Resiliency and Public Access Projects–$5,000,000. Capital for Clean Water and Drinking Water–$ 7,900,000. Wastewater Treatment Facility Resilience Improvements–$ 5,000,000. Dam Safety–$4,400,000. Dredging– Downtown Providence Rivers–- $7,000,000. State Bikeway Development Program–$ 5,000,000. Brownfield Remediation and Economic Development–$ 4,000,000. Local Recreation Projects–$5,000,000. Access to Farmland–$2,000,000. Local Open Space -$2,000,000

Polls Open 7 a.m. - 8 p.m. On Tuesday, Nov. 6

Newport Voting Locations

2102–Pell Elementary School
2104–St. John's Church Hall
2105–Donovan Manor
2101–Fenner Hal
2103–St. Peters Church
2106–Newport Public Library
2107–Rogers High School
2108–Thompson Middle School

To check your polling location, call the canvassing office 845-5386

Emergency Ballots

For those unexpectedly hospitalized, call the Canvassing Authority at 845-5386. A state representative will hand-deliver a ballot to those who request it.

Return to top