1) What specifically would you do to improve the state of our public schools in Ward 3?
Upkeep is key to keep our schools in shape, we have a $300 + Million dollar budget per year for schools and a portion of that should be used to update our schools. Our schools have leaks and have mold. The problem is that the can is kicked down the road until the problem becomes too big and we are left in the mess we are in now. We need to bring in RI contractors to help fix our schools as issues arise. We need to hold our contractors accountable so that our cost is kept down and repairs are done right the first time. One way I would like to find the funding is to place Solar Panels in all our schools. The savings we will create from using panels and the money we will gain from supplying back into the grid will be used to pay for repairs at minimal to no cost to taxpayers.
2) How would you address the issue of violence, before it happens in our ward, and how would you respond to it after it does happen?
One of my goals is to start a pilot program for the city. I want business to sponsor Community Watch Programs. I would like to see volunteers trained to drive around our community being the eyes and ears and to work closely with our Police Department. These extra set of eyes can help deter crime and spot it as it happens. I want to bring in local business sponsor the program and bring limited to no cost to taxpayers.
We also need to address the education issue, jobs and create activates in our city to drive healthy lifestyles and focus our youth in the right direction.
As for responding after violence happens, we need more than a press conference and photo op. Criminals don’t care about photo ops and a bunch of politicians who hide behind a desk at city hall protected by police. We need to be more proactive and enforce the laws we have on the books. Our politicians, police and the community need to sit down and come up with ways to prevent further violence. No matter what we do we will find ourselves in a heart braking situation asking what else could we do.
3) Ward 3 is diverse, and sections of the ward are divided along race and class lines. How do you hope to keep the cross-Ward community conversation going? Do you support efforts to encourage residents to spend time in other parts of the ward, crossing the invisible borders that separate the various communities on the East Side?
Yes, I want residents to come together. No one talks and comes together anymore. I would like to see more community cookouts, events and things that people find fun. We all want the same thing in life, but people find it easier to just stay with what they know. I am learning in this process of running for office what I forget when I was a kid. When I was younger I would travel all around the East Side going to friends’ houses in the richer and poorer areas of Ward 3. A lot has changed over the years and I will admit I let time pass me in my adult years.
4) Beyond community block grant funds, how would you specifically fund and support the community organizations and programs that do important work in our Ward, such as the learning center, food pantry, youth sports, and theater? Will you work to endow these organizations for the long-term, so they can become less reliant on annual grant funding?
I want to see local business to start sponsoring our great community programs. That being said I also want our community leaders to help start businesses in Ward 3. I would like to see the city provide business loans to start new businesses that 100% fund these programs. People could volunteer to work at these businesses and 100% of the proceeds could go to benefit the various programs.
This would be a great opportunity for our youth to learn and train for jobs after school. More importantly, this could provide jobs for our youth who desperately need employment to stay out of trouble.
5) How would you address the issues of affordable housing and gentrification in Ward 3?
In order to have any form of affordable housing, we need to address taxes. The average renter pays $150.00 to $200.00 a month in property taxes that are built into their rent. I do believe that the Mayor is on the right path with fixing homes around Providence with the Community Development Block Grant. (CDBG) I also want residents to take pride where they live, come out and talk to each other. We as residents can come together and help each other well demanding landlords keep up the properties. We have state and federal grants that can help us improve affordable housing and to improve living conditions.
6) How would colleagues describe your temperament, your communication style, your strengths/weaknesses? Is there a specific situation in your professional or personal life that demonstrated what type of person you are?
Well, I am told a lot by a few colleagues that I am “smart and need to do something with my life.” Running for office is one of those things that I always wanted and I saw now as the best time to stand up and do something with it. My weakness I would admit is that I can be immature, goofy at times. But I always act professionally when the time comes to act like an adult. There are times I let the big kid in me come out, sometimes it’s the only way to keep sane in this insane world we live in. For what kind of person I am, I am someone who is loyal, dedicated to those who I call friends. I tend to put myself ahead of others and a lot of times it has hurt me emotionally and financially. I grew up in the Boy Scouts and learned Honor, Trust, Dedication. I care deeply about helping others. It makes me feel good and is rewarding.
7) What Ward 3 community work and/or groups have you been involved in prior to deciding to run for city council?
Tell you the truth, in our Ward, I have not been involved as much as I wish I was. I was a member of the Boy Scouts. I was a member of Troop 28 Pawtucket. When I was a member I was involved in community work from volunteering in cleaning up neighborhoods and helping members of the community in and around Pawtucket. Some activities include food drives, fixing homes, cleaning yards and parks, fundraising for causes and more.
When I did attend Central High each and every day after school I would clean the grounds by myself in places that were neglected. My work got the attention of school administration after a while and a cleaning group was created to help clean areas that I could not reach and work that was overwhelming. I took pride in Central High. Well in Central High I was a member of the Student Body Government and I was also a member of the Gay and Straight Alliance. We held meeting at both Central & Classical. During my time in the (GSA) I did receive back lash for being part of it. I had no problem giving my support and I didn’t care what others thought.
8) A complaint is that some city council members do not participate in enough community meetings or events. How will you devote the time to stay involved? Beyond official council business, how will you balance your personal and work life with the unofficial expectations of being a councilperson?
As a representative of the people of Providence, I will want to know more about our community. What our community sees if not the same as our city council. I feel it’s important that our leaders take more time to understand our community. If I am invited to community meeting and events I will do my best to take part as I can. I don’t like the fact that the only time you see politicians is when they come around looking for your vote. I am not perfect and won’t be able to attend every meeting and event. But I will put an effort in taking part as my work, official and personal life allow me too.
9) As a city councilor, how will you fight corruption, which does both real and reputational harm to our city? Do you think ethics and campaign finance policies could be improved, and if so, how? Or, are they strong enough as they are?
This is one of the issues at heart of me. I have watched the city of Providence and the state fail under the heavy burden of corrupt politicians. I am a strong advocate for anti-corruption. My very first thing I brought to the table before anyone knew I was running was a personal ethics and accountability council made up of Ward 3 voters. I want the voters of Ward 3 to have the ability to question my actions and oversee me. I believe this council should have to right question me.
The issue isn’t if policies could be improved, we need to improve our candidates who run for office. We need candidates who put residents first. City council is a low paying job of under $19,000 a year and a full-time job. For some people, the temptation is too much and we lose good candidates. We need more voters to hold people in public office accountable. We took a big step a few years back when we voted to have term limits.
10) Consensus building is important to be an effective councilperson because legislation can’t be passed with just one councilperson’s vote. Describe a time when you demonstrated skill in creating consensus for change among a group of people.
As someone who needs to see all points of views to come to a conclusion, I try to find common ground and hear all points of views. I like to work on finding creative ways to get a point across. I like to lay out the positives and negatives and address those issues with people. As long as someone has an open mind we can all work together and look into our future so we can make the best decisions. I try to address the path that we will go down and consequences we may face.
11) Please share your thoughts on jobs and business development opportunities focused on Camp Street and North Main Street. More broadly, how would you propose to connect under-employed residents with job opportunities?
I would like to take a moment to talk about combining the underfunding for community youth activities and under-employment. I would like to fast line business loans from the city to open a local business that 100% of the proceeds go to benefit programs such as the Mount Hope Community Center. We can create jobs well providing funding to programs the city has no money to cover. This could be a great way to hire youth and get volunteers to help out by donating their time in support of great programs.
In regards to connecting residents with employers, in the coming weeks, I will be meeting with business owners and leaders in Ward 3. But tax incentives and tax breaks are one way and internships with mom and pop businesses that could lead to full-time work.
12) Our political parties are going through upheaval and change nationwide. What changes would you make to improve your party as a whole if it was up to you, and why? Policies, strategy, etc.
Both parties are way out of touch with the average person. Clear evidence is the fact that Trump is our President. I can’t really commit on parties since I am new to politics and learning party policy and strategy. All I can say is people need to come together regardless of parties. We need to drop the wall that prohibits the Republican and Democrat from doing what is right for the American people. I am a Progressive Center Republican. When it comes to doing what is right I don’t care about parties or whips. I will vote with the Democrats if I believe they have the best option. In fact, I have voted for a Democrat in the last election.
Hot Topic Lightning Round (50 word maximum answers)
1) Did you vote in the recent recall election? Why or why not?
I was working and by the time I was off voting at ended for the night. I do work in trucking and my schedule is not a normal 9-5 job. My hours did run longer on this day and I did miss the vote. I did plan on voting after work that day.
2) Providence does not currently have at-large city councilors. Many other cities do. Do you support the idea of adding at-large city council members in Providence, and why?
I do support this, the city as a whole has 1 common thing and that is the Mayor. The roles and duties would need to be defined. The only issue I have is overlapping and who’s the go to council person. As long as the issues can be resolved I would support.
3) Are you in support of the overnight parking program in Providence, still technically a pilot program under executive order of the Mayor?
I support overnight parking. But Providence has small streets and not all streets should be allowed for overnight parking and or streets should be limited to one side.
4) Smoking ban in Kennedy Plaza – for or against, and why?
Yes, I agree with the ban. As a student going to and from Central High I had to stop at Kennedy Plaza. As a nonsmoker, I had to cover my face to limit the second-hand smoke. It made me sick and the dangers of second-hand smoke are very real.
5) Providence Community Police Relations Act (formerly CSA) – for or against, and why?
Against, not that I don’t care about what the Police do to our residents. I just believe that it will make it harder for police to enforce our laws and prevent crime. It hinders our Officers and deters them from doing their job. Nothing address crime in the bill to protect residents.