Editor's note: This is the latest in a series of articles/videos in Woonsocket Patch's coverage of the Sept. 24 Candidates Night, now turning to City Council incumbents.
During the public comment segment of the Sept. 10 Woonsocket Budget Commission meeting, City Council President Dan Gendron offered a friendly, if ambivalent, welcome to new Budget Commissioner Carolyn Dias.
"Don't take this the wrong way, but I hope your stay here in Woonsocket is a short one," Gendron said.
The sentiment is one many members of the City Council have expressed, but one few have made directly to the Commission. The gesture was characteristic of Gendron's amiably outspoken approach to his actions in the City's best interests.
Gendron, a lifelong resident of Woonsocket, has served on the Council for four years. He works as Director of Building Services for The Friendly Nursing Home at 303 Rhodes Ave.
Woonsocket Patch asked each Council candidate a series of questions about their approach to the city's challenges. Here are Gendron's answers:
1) Assuming the Budget Commission is around for the duration, how would you work with the panel? I would work collaboratively with the Budget Commission; however, I would push and advocate the position put forth by the majority of the City’s elected Council.
2) The Budget Commission's governed by state law. How can you as a City Councilor affect or change that law? The law is clearly imperfect, however, there is little that we as a Council can do to change the law. That said, ultimately, the Budget Commission is made up of five individuals who make decisions on behalf of the City. It is incumbent upon Council members to demonstrate leadership, to stand-up and be heard, to persuade those five members to make the right decisions for Woonsocket. That requires work and effort so as to put forth persuasive arguments based on rationale, logical and informed thinking. I believe I have demonstrated the ability to do the necessary work and research and the willingness to speak up.
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? Yes, I do have an alternative – it is for our General Assembly to restore the cuts to state-aid that they imposed upon us.4) Please list a reason you didn't mention at Candidates Night for voters to choose you over the other candidates. All the candidates care about and want to help the City. The reality, however, is that some are more qualified than others to deal with the issues that currently face the City. On a comparative basis, I believe I am one of the most qualified candidates in the field, for example, given my involvement and experience relative to the Water Treatment Plant, the Waste Water upgrade and the related inter-jurisdictional agreements, to mention just a few.
5) What can Councilors do to improve the City's economy Councilors can ensure that our rules and regulations are enforced equally, consistently and fairly for all parties – no special treatment, as uncertainty or uneven application of the law is a death knell for economic activity. Also, the Council can review existing rules and regulations and make changes, if necessary. But at the end of the day, there is no magic bullet. Businesses will invest in the City when they have some certainty around our ongoing cost structure and the amounts that they are expected to be taxed.
6) What would your alternative to the Budget Commission have been? My first choice would have been for our General Assembly to restore the state-aid that they voted to take away from us. My second choice would have been for our General Assembly to fully implement the “Fair Funding Formula for Education” to its final stage. My Third choice, in retrospect, would have to been to force the States hand by not inviting in a Budget Commission and requiring The State to recognize the crisis that reductions in State aid have created.