Submissions are welcome – send to [email protected] The last day to submit an opinion column (or letters to the editor) about the Nov. 8 election is Oct. 25, two weeks before election day (11/8).
By Mike Donegan
The opinions expressed are my own and not those of the East Greenwich Town Council.
In 2018, I made the decision to run for East Greenwich Town Council because I saw that our community was headed in the wrong direction and we were becoming fractured along the fault lines that we too often see play out on the national news. I did not believe that the prior town council was effectively or efficiently serving the people of East Greenwich – so I decided to do something about it.
On Nov. 6, 2018, the people of East Greenwich spoke loudly and clearly – delivering a resounding mandate for changing the way our town government operates. That election resulted in a sea change of the Town Council, and we promised a better way forward.
In my two terms serving as vice president of the Town Council, our community has undergone the dramatic and positive change that Democrats, Republicans, and Independents overwhelmingly demanded in that 2018 election:
- First and foremost, we replaced the former unethical town manager.
- We rebuilt the finance department.
- We debunked the false bankruptcy narrative that led to many of our town’s embarrassing public controversies that played out almost daily in the press.
- We passed fiscally responsible budgets that ended deficit spending, restored and increased the previously plundered reserves and set us on solid financial footing with an excellent bond rating.
- We reduced the tax burden on residents: the average residential tax increase over these four years was only 1.02 percent while the average rate of inflation was 4.21 percent (US Bureau of Labor Statistics). I kept my campaign promise and played the lead role in amending the state law to allow the reallocation of the tax burden in town so that the large businesses are finally supporting the residents and not the reverse (supported by the E.G. Chamber of Commerce). We also prioritized grant funding and collected millions of dollars that helped offset the residential tax burden.
- We restored school funding allowing the schools to restore critical programs that were cut (even the high school library was closed). In every budget, we ensured full funding for schools and enabled the growth of school surplus funds. Our schools are the gem of our community and their excellence supports both our children and our property values.
- We restored and expanded critical senior services and program offerings in education, arts, travel, physical fitness, social support, and more. We also expanded critical transportation options to grocery stores, pharmacies, retail venues, and banks.
- We “turned the lights on” (as the court ordered the prior council) and established an open and transparent town government engaged with the residents:
- For the first time ever, we live streamed our council meetings (pre-Covid).
- We moved public comment to the beginning and end of every meeting and before we vote on items – changing the practice of allowing it only after a vote.
- We created many public workshops on issues of community importance.
- We worked with the E.G. Chamber of Commerce and local businesses to help small businesses thrive and navigate the Covid crisis. This included allowing outdoor seating and relaxed parking requirements for restaurants and establishing e-licensing for businesses, saving them time and effort when renewing their various business licenses.
- We managed our community through the COVID pandemic keeping town government open and running smoothly throughout the crisis and providing the vital services that our residents and businesses needed to move our community through the pandemic. Our vaccination clinic provided early protection and allowed us to have the highest vaccination rate in the state.
- We successfully defeated MedRecycler. As an experienced regulatory lawyer, I was the council’s delegate working with our solicitors, environmental consultants, General Assembly representatives and residents to successfully defeat this irresponsible plan to locate a medical waste high-heat facility on Division Road.
I am grateful that we were able to restore civility and responsible local government to our truly wonderful community, but there’s still plenty of work to be done. I hope that I have earned your vote in the upcoming general election on Tuesday, Nov. 8. With your support, we can keep up the forward progress and ensure that our town continues to get the top-notch services and quality of life that we all expect and deserve.
Mike Donegan is running for reelection to the East Greenwich Town Council.