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Why I am Running

I am running for mayor of the great City of Woonsocket. Read this post to find out why.

The first question that most folks ask me when I tell them that I'm running for mayor of Woonsocket is, "Are you crazy or just a glutton for punishment?" 

Well, watching the degradation of our once thriving city certainly drives me nuts, but I don't think I'm a masochist, so, I guess that that's a yes and a no.

For starters, I love Woonsocket, an I am proud to have been raised and live here. 

Our government - almost by its very nature - is a very reactionary beast. 

Now, I'm not saying that every problem we face is foreseeable, the disappearance of $10 million from Woonsocket's School Budget that precipitated the activation of the Woonsocket Budget Commission being a prime example of this, but if we fail to plan for foreseeable problems, we will have fewer resources available to deal with the unforeseeable issues when they materialize. Our leaders definitely need to think on their feet, but it it important to not get caught flat-footed on easily recognized future issues. It is more important than ever for our leaders to have a vision for the future of our municipalities and state, and a plan that is guided by the voice of the people. 

Voter participation in Woonsocket is atrocious. 

This, I believe, is due to many factors, but  I will outline two of them here. 

One, the biggest - some may say only - voting bloc in Woonsocket is the elderly.

Our parents and grandparents are clearly still very invested in the political process, but it seems that our youth and minority populations have given up on the political process, and who can blame them? You can only be marginalized for so long before you become disenfranchised. Our leaders have, quite frankly, pandered to the elderly population at the cost of every other potential voter in Woonsocket. If the youth and minority population wants to be heard and have their concerns addressed, the only option is to speak up at city council and school committee meetings, and at the polls. At the end of the day, whether you're young or old, black or white, liberal or conservative, I think we can agree that what we want is a safe, prosperous community that attracts good families and businesses, and allows them to thrive and succeed. 

Two, nothing seems to change for the better, no matter who we elect. 

This fact has stopped the participation of some of the staunchest advocates of our political process. How often have we heard the refrain, "Why vote when nothing ever changes?" I think that this is largely due to the ideological approaches to government by both of the major parties. The left wants to raise taxes, the right wants to cut spending and services. In Woonsocket's case, both things are happening. 

Now, I'm no economist, but if taxes go up, there should be a corresponding increase in services, and if services are cut, taxes should go down. Woonsocket  seems to be in a Twilight Zone episode where taxes and services are inversely proportional. That said, I believe that we can certainly be more prudent and efficient in how we spend the little revenue that we do have, but, like any business owner will tell you, you don't have to sell more widgets to make more money, you should first reduce your overhead. 

What we need in a leader

We need a leader  that will break the mold of the old-school approaches to solving financial crisises, which are clearly not working. One only has to look to the City of Braddock, Pennsylvania and Mayor John Fetterman to see examples of how new approaches can revitalize failing cities and towns. 

We need a leader that can reinvigorate our young people, and in a city that was built by immigrants, we definitely need to embrace and include those growing populations in the process.One of the biggest strengths of this city, state, and country is our diversity of cultures, creeds, and ideologies. We need to capitalize on that. 

We need a leader that has a plan, but that plan needs to be guided by what the residents of Woonsocket want to see in their city and government. I'll add that, just because someone doesn't vote - or doesn't vote for you - doesn't mean that they are not constituents. To that end, I will begin a listening tour of the city in March  to hear the concerns and ideas of citizens and business owners alike. 

There is a lot of negativity about Woonsocket, from within and without. We need to recognize our successes and potentials and put much more focus on those. 

Most importantly, we, as citizens, must realize that the successes and failures of our cities, towns, states, and countries do not rest solely on the backs of our elected leaders. We are just as responsible for every outcome, good or bad. For better or worse, we are all in this together, so let's come together and start watching our neighbors backs. 

I urge all Woonsocket residents that have given up on or never participated the process to register to vote, because this November, you will see a very different mayoral candidate on the ballot. 

For updates on the campaign, you can follow my blog, like my facebook page, and follow me on Twitter @DAFisherRI.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

MAE February 23, 2013 at 03:16 PM
You know those are all lofty goals.Those environmentally friendly solutions may work over the long term but the problem is not in the long term. You need solutions now. I will be ready by summer to put my home on the market by summer. I'll take a loss on it's value and probably have to short it leaving me with the remainder to pay off. Because I am not delinquent in my payments, except to the city, I can't file bankruptcy unless I force it and ruin my good credit. I am not alone here. To say that I feel trapped is an understatement.I so wish I could just pack my bags, drive away and leave this pathetic excuse for a city. Staying here makes me just a hamster on a wheel! A Tax slave! You need to drop the tax rate NOW not later or you'll be the mayor of a section 8 and welfare city only. The folks who stay will be nothing but resentful that they have to stay. You need to look into cities that privatize and reduce the internal structure of the city's employees at the administrative level need to be eliminate. This city needs to go without some things the same way we homeowners go without. We need local changes in the law so that the renters in this city pay a tax. We need business to want to come here, box store, manufacturing, small shops.
MAE February 23, 2013 at 03:17 PM
This city has nothing in case you've missed it. We all go out of town even to go to the movies. You need a plan to take the burden off the homeowners who only make up not even half the population! Mind you, that other half are the ones who vote the same idiots in...the elderly and the others who are on the dole one way or another. Also note, when Stella Brien made her comment about getting ride of the projects and using the land to generate more revenue, she lost.
Nelson Aldrich February 23, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Here's something that really needs attention Dave: http://blogs.reuters.com/muniland/2011/08/03/bondholders-have-pushed-ahead-of-others-in-line/
David Fisher February 24, 2013 at 05:59 PM
Thanks for the comment, Peggy Edwards. If you'd like to see my response to Peggy's comments, you can find them on my facebook page. http://goo.gl/oqUnZ
David Fisher February 24, 2013 at 05:59 PM
Thanks for the comment, Peggy Edwards. If you'd like to see my response to Peggy's comments, you can find them on my facebook page. http://goo.gl/oqUnZ
David Fisher February 24, 2013 at 06:05 PM
I couldn't agree more. This is a really good reason to start a state bank that can finance city and town bonds at a lower interest rate, rather than continue to line the pockets of the Wall St. fatcats that have completely ruined the world economy with their non-transparent, casino-style financing schemes. http://goo.gl/qrx03
Jay February 24, 2013 at 07:14 PM
@MAE- You're right. This city has nothing. I've already seen a couple for sale signs pop up in my neighborhood this week. One across the street from me in fact. Another short sale. With the current economic conditions they can barely afford to stay. Now the massive tax increases will kick in. They're done. Great job Mr. Mayor. Great plan. Just raise taxes to collect more revenue. But if a majority of the people lose their homes, you won't collect any taxes at all. @Dave- How will you address this?
Still Hope February 24, 2013 at 09:47 PM
If you intend to run for mayor, please reread your press release before you send it. The details matter.
Still Hope February 24, 2013 at 10:30 PM
Voter turnout in Woonsocket is greater than or on par with the average national turnout, in any given election. Youth and minority participation is actually better than nationally. This is strange because generally when the population is poorer and less educated, there is less activity at the polls. I suppose anything less than 99% would be atrocious.
Still Hope February 25, 2013 at 12:49 AM
You keep referencing this like it's a problem. Muni bonds have always been treated like this and is actually part of the US Bankruptcy laws. Enacting it on the state level just makes it consistent. It's similar with corporate bankruptcy and home mortgage default: first you pay the secured creditors(bond holders), then the unsecured creditors(owed for services), then the workers(in corporate these usually just get a pink slip).
Woonsocket Rocket February 25, 2013 at 06:05 AM
Tax breaks for small buisness would be nice as well. We need solutions and this burden should not be on just the mayor. Teach the value of education and work.One thing I have noticed about Woonsocket growing up here all my life is that, many people want every thing done for them without putting forth max effort. We could elect the best mayor in the world but, a leader is only as good as the people he/she leads. If you continue to be lazy and not participate then you should pay high taxes and have a dictator type mayor like we do now. If you are willing to speak your voice, come up with sollutions, and lend your body for the good of the community, then and only then will issues become resolved. Well Mr. Fisher good luck with that!
Cathy February 25, 2013 at 11:22 AM
MAE, Lucky for me I remember text when I see it, as you repeat here what was said under the facebook posts yesterday. I am a Woonsocket parent, the children I have attend their public schools as of right now. I am not a "dole who voted" these people in. I am not a homeowner yet. That doesn't make me an uneducated person, nor does it make me lazy, as I work very hard at my job and I'm sure you work hard at yours. I am the daughter of a retired teacher. I respect teachers. I ask that you respect those who rent. I am more than willing to be taxed as a renter if it were to help the city. I understand that is not a popular idea. I don't care. We need something different.
Nelson Aldrich February 25, 2013 at 02:27 PM
Bonds are not "secured",never have been.That why their "rated' in relation to risk.Bondholders have been pushed to the head of the line in RI,since 2010.All in an effort to keep the credit rating up to secure future borrowing (debt). You want to discourage spending? Stop borrowing and let creditors take a proportionate hit along with everyone else.Bonds are loans and all loans have risk,except in RI.
David Fisher February 25, 2013 at 05:40 PM
Working as a journalist for the last three years has taught me that, yes, details are important, but so are the facts. According to the Center for the Study of the American electorate, 57.5 percent of eligible U.S. voters cast ballots in the 2012 presidential race. http://goo.gl/kmPIf According to the Woonsocket Board of Canvassers, there are nearly 24,000 registered voters in Woonsocket. (This information is not available on the city Board of Canvassers or the state Board of Elections website. I will scan it and make it available on my blog.) According to the R.I. Board of Elections, 12,369 votes were cast in Woonsocket in the 2012 presidential race. http://goo.gl/uiZ97 So, the math tells us that just a hair over 50 percent of Woonsocket's voters cast ballots in the 2012 presidential race, and your claim of "greater than or on par" doesn't hold water, at least for the 2012 presidential race.
David Fisher February 25, 2013 at 05:40 PM
I will look into you claim of higher than average youth and minority population votes and get back to you. More disturbingly, the down-ballot races for U.S. Senator and Representative showed a drop off of 795 and 494 votes, respectively. One could argue, and rightfully so, that these offices are more critical to the day-to-day governance of our country. The numbers get much worse when you look at Woonsocket's local, off-year elections. As reported right here on the Woonsocket Patch, a mere 4,426 of the nearly 24,000 registered voters cast ballots in the 2011 Municipal elections. http://goo.gl/MJHYm A bit over one-sixth of the eligible voters. Maybe atrocious was the wrong word choice. Perhaps "virtually non-existent" would have been more appropriate. To top it off, Patch also reported that: "Fontaine ran unopposed for the mayoral position, with 2,943 voters checking his name on the ballot. 244 voters elected to write in candidates, which workers at Board of Canvassers said varied from potentially serious opponents who did not elect to run, to "Mickey Mouse" and "Elmer Fudd." 1,237 voters left the line blank." These 1,481 votes (just over one-third, by my math) for either write-in candidates, or no candidate at all, are a not-so-tacit vote of "No Confidence" in our mayor. I'm all for open and honest communication, but let's make sure that it is open and honest.
Still Hope February 25, 2013 at 05:55 PM
Nelson, you know as I do that GO bonds are "as good as" secured credit since they are backed by government taxes and revenue. In every case in the last decade where a city has floundered, muni bonds were given priority over other obligations. You are absolutely correct in asserting that one of the functions of favoring bonds is the maintain credit rating, but you do neglect that bond holders would have first dibs in bankruptcy court. Making it a statute just skips the process. A google search will show you this the case in most states, not just RI.
David Fisher February 25, 2013 at 05:57 PM
I could not agree more with this comment, and if elected, I would explore a reducing the commercial property tax rate. Our current rate dates back to the era of the manufacturing/textile boomtown we once were. It should have been adjusted when that industry dried up. A reduction in commercial property tax is in order, and I would explore the option of a fixed-time holiday on tangible asset taxation, which would give time for them to depreciate, and reduce the amount of tax when they are reintroduced to the tax rolls. Coupled with my plan for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in the city, this would make Woonsocket more inviting to businesses and families, and create new, long term revenue streams for the city. I would also commit to working with our community organizations to foster electoral participation and building coalitions to make our neighborhoods more cohesive by promoting the idea that you have stated here, which is, "We're all in this together." I would also commit to working with our community organizations to foster electoral participation and building coalitions to make our neighborhoods more cohesive by promoting the idea that you have stated here, which is, "We're all in this together."
David Fisher February 25, 2013 at 06:31 PM
Didn't mean to repeat that last bit, but all the same, it deserves repeating.
Nelson Aldrich February 25, 2013 at 07:19 PM
A federal bankruptcy judge would have the option of spreading the pain equally amongst the parties,whether he or she does that is up to them.Making it a statute in RI means that a federal bankruptcy judge would be hesitant to infringe on "state's rights". They may get dibs,(probably because they'd be really lawyered up) but it's a pretty safe bet in RI no matter what the rating is.They get something for their "risk",it's tax free interest and the lack of transparency (try to find out who owns the City's debt) makes it ripe for corruption.Their cards should be on the table too and a partial default on the City's debt should be possible. Their willingness to lend (right or wrong) makes it difficult to control spending and the lack of transparency is a clear signal that something's very wrong.They most certainly didn't need any help from the General Assembly,especially from the head of Finance,who sells tax free investments at his own firm and whose sympathies lie with investors and not taxpayers.
MAE February 25, 2013 at 09:10 PM
Cathy, Obviously you read too much into my comment...or you are overly sensitive. There are exceptions to every rule and for some reason you assume I am referring to you personally. I have my opinions. I, as a homeowner am bleeding profusely and I do believe others with less responsibility and more demand of services in this city need to contribute as well., You may not agree, that's fine. Have a good day!
Still Hope February 25, 2013 at 09:14 PM
I don't think I made my point clear. Here is the gist of voter turnout % by presidential election: ------------------Woon----------RI-----------US 2012------------50%-----------58%--------58% 2008------------55%-----------62%--------62% 2004------------51%-----------59%--------60% 2000------------49%-----------54%--------54% *estimates What we see is that city turnout wanes and waxes as the state and country does. I would wager that if you went back 50 years your would see the same pattern. What you infer is that voter participation can be influenced directly. I say sure, but only marginally. Some people vote, some people do not. Why, can be debated forever. Elderly, all across the country, tend to turnout to vote far more than young adults. It is not a Woonsocket thing. I get the message you are trying to put out there: you want to appeal to the "left out" classes. The problem is that the left out classes are left out naturally. I would argue that the elderly have the least to gain in the political process, yet seem to have the most interest. Likewise, the people with the most to gain seem to be pretty disinterested. Consider this: who is more apt to smoke and drink? A young adult with a whole life ahead or an old timer with nothing to lose? Well, I haven't seen Wilfred Brimley smoking a Marlboro lately. You? You wanna pander to the "left out"? Good luck. I suggest winning over the real voters instead. Once you're in, then you can start your revolution.
Cathy February 26, 2013 at 07:44 PM
Again, people need to take responsibility for their choices, actions, and people need to vote! Get involved. It's your right as a citizen. Once a person's frustrations leave them so bitter they are at risk for projecting certain attitudes, you have to be careful that it doesn't interfere with those you serve professionally. I feel for those who are being crunched by taxes. Again, change is needed. I think we need to explore all options and keep an open mind.
Woonsocket Rocket February 27, 2013 at 06:53 AM
Rather than bicker with your own personal agendas, why not think of a solution to the bigger picture. Cathy and MAE you are both very strong individuals but as a team you could be mighty. Put away your petty differences and work together. You two are the perfect ying and yang of the system. One of you is a home owner and one a renter. Now think of a great comprimise that would benifit and help both of you, and everyone around you. Let your voices be heard and maybe something will change. Don't bicker amongst each other! Tell your leaders what needs to be said.
Woonsocket Rocket February 27, 2013 at 07:05 AM
P.S. The rest of my statement from the other night apparently has not been approved. In short it said home owners can not complain because they voted against the super center that may have releived some of the tax burden, along with other large box home improvement stores that left for our neighboring towns. Also sec 8 needs to be reduced. Get people into the city that want to work, at a fair housing cost and jobs will follow. We need to realize that we are not to good for any job! Work no matter the pay or hours is a respectable accomplishment and we should hold strong to that principle or we will be doomed to fail.
MAE February 27, 2013 at 04:19 PM
Woonsocket Rocket: I have nothing against Cathy, she actually sounds a lot like me, a hard working city resident that is tired of paying to help those who make no effort to help themselves. As a single parent with no outside support, I have done well for myself. Perhaps I was a little too general in my statements and she took offense but because this site limits our responses we try to get our ideas across in as few words as possible. As far as trying to make changes by voicing our concerns, they seems they fall on deaf ears. I would vote for keeping businesses here and am sorry to see the box stores leave. They are doing what we residence want to do, cut our losses and go. It's sad but you can't blame them or us. Our elected officials have missed so many opportunities to grow this city but are obviously short sighted. They are now infringing on what I've worked so hard for and as much as I love my life here, I love my life more and feel I need to cut my losses and save myself. I don't drowned well, I kick and scream! Unfortunately the life guards are not paying attention nor doing their job.
Baywatch February 28, 2013 at 05:34 AM
1) New Issue Muni bonds are mostly flat at the moment. Even with favorable terms do you really expect to solve any of Woonsocket's problems with GO bonds? 2) The "Wall Street Fat Cats" that you speak of are being fed by the same government that you point to as a sample of guidance. The federal government IS subsidizing the banks while neglecting the long term interests of the people. Here is a simple breakdown: 1) The Treasury issues bonds which is sold on the open market. Primary dealers “purchase” the bonds at a discount (ie, less than the value of the bond). 2) The Primary dealers then sell the bonds for par value. 3) The Federal Reserve is one of the largest purchasers of these bonds 4) The Fed then holds the bond as a security instrument in its book at Yield to Maturity value What has just happened? Effectively, the government has just printed money. Which it then sold to the banks a less than face value which creates instant profit for the banks and has the dual benefit of adding “value” to the Fed’s balance sheet. It’s all monetary gimmicks, and it WILL eventually collapse the country. Just a matter of time now. Effectively, the government is subsidizing the banks that you are bitching about while espousing the merits of the government to save us. Utter nonsense.

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