Issues Breakdown: See Where City Council Candidates Stand
A summary of the basic positions and stances expressed at the Candidate Forum sponsored by MyWoonsocket.com
All candidates are not created equal.
At a forum at Chan's Fine Oriental Dining last week, City Council candidates expressed different ideas regarding policy and their vision for Woonsocket. With the November election fast approaching, the quotes below, taken from the candidate's answers to various resident questions, may help you to gain a better understanding of where they stand and what assets they would bring to city government. While the candidates, of course, had significantly more to say on each issue, we've attempted to narrow down each quote to a key statement whenever possible.
But don't stop here, be sure to read up on all of the candidates before the Nov. 8 elections. The links below will help to get you started and hopefully catch you up on recent stories you may have missed.
As Lorraine Corey, creator of the informational website MyWoonsocket.com explained at the forum, "After all, this is your Woonsocket, this is my Woonsocket."
The first question, submitted via the MyWoonsocket website was in regards to the recent City Council vote to purchase land from Council candidate Roland Michaud as a site for Woonsocket's new water treatment plant.
Do you think it's self serving to sell land to the city of Woonsocket while you are running for office?
Roland Michaud: "This is an attempt to help the city and I don't think it's self-serving at all."
John Ward: "Just as we had a primary that cost $25,000 to eliminate one candidate, so too does a person have the right to run for office. That's the American way, that's Democracy."
Daniel Gendron: "While working on this issue, never did I hear the properties refered to by the owner. It was always by the location."
How will you hold the line on taxes next year?
Ward:"I will continue to do what I have been doing regularly, which is to speak with the state treasurer on the pension issue."
Philip Labrecque: "It's networking, making Woonsocket's case on the state level."
Michaud: "You have to look at each and every issue for cost efficiencies. No matter what it is, we cannot have more government than we can afford."
Kathryn LeBlanc: "We have to start in-house and stop the spending."
Gendron: "I've worked on two budgets and there's no more to cut. We have a pension reform problem that needs to be fixed which will dwarf all of the other problems."
Robert Moreau: "I don't see the federal government starting to help us. We need to sell our own city. We need to promote Woonsocket."
How do you plan to promote business?
Christopher Beauchamp: "Any business that we can help stay in the city, we should."
Michaud: "We have to not sell our infrastructure to our neighboring communities."
Moreau: "We need to cut some red tape and make it easier to do business in the city. We need to promote that we now have land."
Gendron: "We have to start with jobs creation first."
The final question for the first set of seven candidates involved a recent arrest by the Rhode Island State Police. On Oct. 12, retired Municipal Court clerk Rachel Arruda was arrested for allegedly embezzling $389,000 from City Hall. The arrest was the second this year, which city financial officers have said comes as the result of reviews of financial records and implementation of new software.
In light of the recent allegations of embezzlement, do you think the city should have a complete forensic audit?
Gendron: "That's what the administration has been doing for the past two years. $390,000 wasn't stolen this week, it goes back many years. We need to keep doing exactly what we're doing."
LeBlanc: "I do believe that there should be more accountability, but a forensic audit means spending more money."
Ward: "The answer is no. We need what we now have; more financial controls."
Beauchamp: "I don't think we need to spend that money. But that department should have weekly meetings to make sure people are taking responsibility for thier jobs."
Why do you feel you are better qualified to be a member of the City Council than your opponent?
Marc Dubois: "My experience of working on the School Committee making cuts without the option of increasing taxes."
Steve Lima: "Leadership, dedication and passion. I'm a very innovative guy and when I get an issue, it gets nailed down."
Albert Brien: "I'm not sure that I am. But they say with age comes wisdom and I am 70 years wise. I served many years at the General Assembly and I hope I could use that experience to benefit the city of Woonsocket."
Roger Jalette: "My experience as a small business owner."
James Cournoyer: "There is a difference between qualifications and desire. I look at some of the people running and they've never been at a meeting. They've never addressed an issue."
Stella Brien: "I built my business from the ground up. I have to check my budget every day and not spend a penny more than I have."
Garrett Mancieri: "It's about who has the right ideas to get Woonsocket back on track, not how many signs you have or how many meetings you've been to."
How would you avert a 12% tax increase?
Stella Brien: "We're always looking at cuts, but what we really need is to bring in revenue."
Jalette: "0% is what I want."
Lima: "There are ways. Until you get your city back on life support, you can't charge people more money. I think we need to look more at the exempt properties."
Dubois: "Reduce subsidized housing."
What would be your creative plan to save Woonsocket if our largest corporation, CVS Caremark, pulled out tomorrow?
Dubois: "I believe we have to be as friendly to CVS as we can be and do everything we can to keep them here."
Lima: "I don't think we could recover from that."
Albert Brien: "What we don't do is give them a hard time when they're trying to build a store down the street from their corporate office. We need to adjust our comprehensive plan to make this clear."
Cournoyer: "We can't allow ourselves to be so dependent on one business. We need to create a flexible cost structure."
Stella Brien: "We have to work on a plan to bring businesses in as if CVS were already gone."
In March, the State Department of Administration opted not to approve Woonsocket's Comprehensive Plan, in part because of the position taken by drafters regarding subsidized housing. Woonsocket's total low income housing for the elderly, families and special needs residents is at 16.5%, though the state mandates a total of only 10%. Officials, however felt that Woonsocket should aim to provide additional units to satisfy the need in the area.
What is your position on affordable and subsidized housing?
Mancieri: "We need to take aggressive steps to lower affordable housing."
Stella Brien: "I'd like to see those buildings gone: every single one of them razed and replaced by single family homes."
Cournoyer: "Our comprehensive plan calls for a gradual reduction in subsidized housing and I agree with that. We need to bring it to a more manageable level."
Jalette: "We need to downsize Bourdon Boulevard and Morin Heights."
Albert Brien: "The state says we need more. The thrust of my campaign and involvement is this: Enough is enough. We need to say 'no' and it's time to push back."
Lima: "Subsidized housing has its place; it was created for the elderly. But I am 100% in favor of lowering it."
Dubois: "I believe we have way too much. We should put a time limit on it. As people move out do not reoccupy these buildings: level them."