City Council Challenger Eric "Chip" Cartier told members of a packed Chan's concert room he has the people skills needed to cooperate with the team the body ought to be during candidates night Tuesday.
"I think there's an opportunity for there to be a stronger team," Cartier said.
Cartier makes his first foray into City politics in this year's Council race. He works as Senior Manager of business compliance at CVS Caremark.
"I hope to help this city through a systematic approach that diagnoses its challenges and develops innovative solutions and removes complacent thinking," Cartier writes on his candidate's facebook page.
Woonsocket Patch asked several questions of all Council candidates. Here are Cartier's answers:
1) Assuming the Budget Commission is around for the duration, how would you work with the panel? – I believe we need to work as a team and to start that process, #1. We need to require them to be part of any financial based work sessions so they can be part of the solution and understand the issue from the citizens side. #2. We need to continue to challenge decisions to make certain they make sense long term and are best for the people of Woonsocket. This does not need to be adversarial, but its needs to be done. #3. We need to refrain from calling out the wrongs and negatives of the budget commission and put that energy to assisting in developing the solutions.
2) The Budget Commission is governed by state law. How can you as a City Councilor affect or change that law? – Although this is difficult, we would need to draft a resolution, then petition our general assembly and ensure they fight to introduce and support this legislation.
3) The Budget Commission still needs to raise $1 million for its 5-year plan, and that's proposed to come from trash fees. Do you support this, or, if not, do you have an alternative? – I do not support an additional tax on trash. Trash removal is already included in our base tax and there is already an incremental trash tax. We need to identify other tax revenue streams for example select “non-profit” businesses in the city that have “for profit” businesses contained within them. We need to identify other savings whether that is redundancies in staffing/work completed, energy efficiencies, and ultimately in the end, an increase in the tax base from additional commercial and residential development.
4) Please list a reason you didn't mention at Candidates Night for voters to choose you over the other candidates. - Far too often we have only been focused on the "what", or on what the problem is. In most cases, we have not investigated the how, or even more importantly, the why. How did the problem come to be? And more importantly, why do we have this problem?
Select people on the currently on the council pride themselves on being able to recite ordinances, law or policy, they say they will not vote for more taxes, and they call out the wrongs of the city. But if you really listen, and really listen well, do you hear ideas or solutions or do they just keep adding to the problem. Do they really understand why things are not working and work to fix that reason or just continue to tell us what’s wrong?
I take a different approach in both my professional and personal life at addressing and solving problems. I begin with the why; why do we have this problem? Once this is pinpointed, I prefer to collaborate to help identify how we can fix that problem. What the outcomes are will be the fruits of our collaborative labors.
So when I speak of change, I don’t speak of it printed on a sign, in a letter to the newspaper or on the radio, I believe change is in the attitude and actions. In order for change to occur, there also needs to be changes in individuals. This is not personal and we do not dislike the current people. I don’t believe people go to work with the intention of doing a poor job, but like any other job or position, if they are ineffective at what they are doing and things are not progressing in a positive direction, that is when we need to make changes and that time for change is now.
5) What can Councilors do to improve the City's economy? - Most importantly, we need to alleviate the tax burden on our tax payers and increase property value. The best way to do accomplish this is economic development:
1. We need to entice businesses back to the areas were we have lost business, like Diamond hill road. In some cases we need to provide these businesses tax incentives
2. We need to continue our initiative to redevelop major corners, intersections and expand development to select streets and areas of the city to allow for more business – we will need incremental businesses to increase the tax base
3. I believe in the main street redevelopment plan and bringing a form of higher education to our city. I have heard from many these efforts have failed many times in the past so why try again. That is the exact attitude that can no longer be accepted. Positive thinking leads to positive behavior and in the end leads positive results. I believe these efforts and this energy will not only bring businesses to our city, but attract business to our city.
4. We have heard over and over that we are not business or home owner friendly. In some instances we may have made things more difficult than needed for a business or a new home owner that wants to call Woonsocket their home. We need to do a comprehensive review of our rules and processes so they do not continue to handcuff us and make it easier to do business and own a home in our city.
In addition, we need to identify other tax revenue streams for example select “non-profit” businesses in the city that have “for profit” businesses contained within them.
6) What would your alternative to the Budget Commission have been? – the alternative would be to do what we are doing today, but without a Budget Commission. That is executing the 5-year plan, negotiating with unions, making the municipal government more efficient and driving economic development for the future.