Looking back at the last two years I’ve been on the Tiverton Town Council, there has been much progress. The FTR and finally a real tax cap tops the list, and serious long-term financial planning has begun: We’ve revamped policies, negotiated affordable labor contracts with police, fire, and Teamsters unions and our police and fire chiefs, addressed landfill, water quality, and police pension liabilities, and saw reserve funds climb from nearly zero to meet charter minimums and then some. We’ve cleared a backlog of litigation and performance reviews, made real progress on the Bay Street cleanup and the Industrial Park, and welcomed a grocery store back to Tiverton. Unlike others, we supported Singing Out Against Hunger and the Tiverton Little League, allowed open public input in meetings, outreached with liaisons with boards and commissions, and held volunteer appreciation nights. Volunteerism is strong, such as TCC’s efforts to support re-roofing the Senior Center and insulate a fire station. A new library is in the works, fire trucks are being replaced, and roads are getting paved again. In short, we are building a better Tiverton, and it’s great to see.
Tax increases in the last two years have been the lowest in decades, but they’re still too high. We need to keep going on the Industrial Park and North Tiverton revitalization to bring more business to Tiverton to help the local economy and lift some of the burden on residential property taxpayers. Stopping tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge will not be easy, but this Town Council (which did the most to stop EBEC’s eminent domain threat to Tiverton) has been working an action plan and closely partnered with citizens on the Sakonnet Tolls Opposition Platform, which I helped form. We’ve begun the difficult conversations around zoning reform, and I want to ensure follow-through on every item raised at the planning and zoning forum we recently held.
This next term will also have a Charter Review Commission and a Comprehensive Community Plan update. Familiar foes of the FTR have reorganized, and while this year they claim they will no longer fight against the FTR, nowadays, many are still on record as wanting to remove or weaken the tax cap or your voter rights to bring forward petitions. But my support for the FTR has never wavered. Its triple benefits of the tax cap, level playing field, and tenfold increase in voter participation in deciding the town budget are the cornerstones of Tiverton’s turnaround.
Finally, and perhaps above all else, by standing with me, I ask you to stand up against what I think is the only real threat to Tiverton’s continuing climb of progress: The saddening new normal of some of the most divisive people in the community hypocritically attacking their neighbors and fellow taxpayers while outright lying about facts, which will do nothing but build bitterness within the town and lead to a never-ending circle of conflict. (The latest example of this being the coordinated stream of falsehoods spread about TCC and personal attacks against TCC supporters.) I understand that being a target of political spin or worse comes with the territory of serving as your representative at the council table, and vibrant debate usually leads to good results, but we shouldn’t tolerate allowing special interests to turn Tiverton into a replica of what we see happening nationally, with "anything goes" politics all the time. Many have called me naïve for hoping some day the attacks will stop, but I don’t think attacking neighbors in the name of community makes for a stronger community. So I would respectfully suggest that you canvass the pages of this very website and observe who are the people engaging in these types of personal attacks, and then consider for yourself who truly cares about working together as a community. We’ve started to turn Tiverton around, but taking the town to the next level means sending a clear signal that we want to work together, and that means fairness, honesty, and respect even when – especially when – there is disagreement. So I pledge my continuing efforts to work for consensus, work for shining the light on facts and solutions, and above all, working for all areas of town and voters of all political stripes.
As always, I encourage you to call me at 525-0469 with your questions and concerns. In closing, let me say it has been a continuing honor to work for you and see real progress happen. Let’s keep it going, because Tiverton is on the rise.