Laurie

What is your current job/occupation? How have your past life experiences and education prepared you for a role on the council?

I currently have a position at a small financial advisory firm. I started on Wall St in 1980, working my way up in positions related to derivatives trading. Ultimately, I was VP in charge of the government securities OTC derivatives desk, trading and managing risk on positions of hundreds of millions. In that capacity, I worked closely with major bond investors, such as the California State Teachers Retirement System, to help them minimize risk in their portfolio, and increase their returns. I am also the Chair of the MLM Library Board of Trustees, and as such have been attending and participating in town council meetings for years. I feel my long involvement in public affairs gives the public an accurate view of my outlook and grasp of local issues. I have gained insight into the whole municipal budgeting process, and have many practical ideas for cost saving.

Why are you seeking public office? If you are an incumbent, what do you hope to achieve in the next term if elected? If you are a challenger, what do you see as the flaws of the current leadership and how would you do things differently?

 I have seen the destructiveness of the current Council makeup, and wish to help the Town return to the previous era of civility and respect in the chamber. I believe the council should be accountable to the people, and the ordinances and the Town Charter should be followed. I believe a good town council can unite the town and move us forward to a better future. From the big issues like slashing the library budget 60 percent, to the small issues of refusing to thank a donor for a pledge of $500,000; this council has abandoned common decency. The people of Narragansett deserve better.

Without elaborating, please state your top three priorities for the town if elected.

1. The Library -Restore the funding and move forward with creating a modern, state of the art library in the Belmont Building.

2. Restore the Economic Development Council and establish policies that aid small businesses at this critical time.

3. Restore Open Forum and all related issues of transparency and honesty in Government.

What can be done locally to assist residents stay healthy and businesses stay afloat through the COVID crisis? If elected, how would you specifically assist local businesses during this period?

Our community relies on our many fine small businesses and restaurants, and I would make it a high priority to assist them in any way we can. I believe the best and quickest way is to reestablish the Economic Development Council, to foster communication between businesses and the town administration. In this type of unprecedented crisis, all options must be on the table, because if we don’t act, we will lose not only the services we rely on but also significant sources of employment in the town as well. And we can see how job loss will lead to an even bigger cascading crash in the local economy as the Town collects fewer taxes. I have spoken with businesses, and they have some creative ways the government could assist them: but only through collaboration can we figure out the most effective way forward.

Do you support continuing the William C. O'Neill Bike Path through Canonchet Farm to the town beach or would you seek an alternative route for the path to the beach if elected? If you support another route, what is it?

I am very interested in finishing the bike path and policies that encourage bike transportation in Narragansett. I have attended the workshops on the extension of the path, and understand the complexity of completing it through Canonchet Farm. While that would be my preferred path, the current economic situation underscores the town’s responsibility to pursue grants and alternative funding as a condition of the path chosen, as our current economic situation would not allow for major expenditures at this time.

Do you support the town's recently passed three-college-student ordinance? Why or why not? If not, is there an alternative ordinance you favor? If elected, how would you specifically enforce any ordinance designed to reduce student behavior and/or open up the town to more families if you are in favor of such a law?

I do not support the three-student ordinance. The four-unrelated was the path we were pursuing, and the sudden adoption of a 3 college students ordinance seems rash, and comes with some specific problems. First, embracing the 3 is overruling the expert opinion of the Planning Board. Second, the Solicitor made several changes to the Providence ordinance which is problematic. Third, we do not currently have any system of enforcement, and finally, we have several lawsuits challenging this legislation.

In the current crisis, URI has a serious housing problem and this will finally make them come to the table to work with the Town on enforcement issues. Indeed, I believe the 2100 Club has formed a task force to facilitate this already. Again, at this critical time in history, there is an opportunity to improve the rental situation, by engaging with all parties, and then putting policies in place that have a multi-pronged approach.

If elected, would you support Pier Liquors staying in its current location (whether by lease or purchase) or do you favor the entire town-owned Pier Marketplace property for the new public library project?

This has been resolved - LYL, the Town of Narragansett and Pier Liquors have reached a compromise and signed an agreement that grants Pier Liquors a five-year lease with an option to extend for another five years. All parties are excited that this issue is behind us and for my part, I am ready to move forward with the library refit in the Belmont building.

The town recently passed a rate hike in numerous categories, including admission and parking, at the town beach. Do you support these increases?

I do not support the increases at the town beach. Once again, the Council rushed to enact policies without proper input and discussion from other stakeholders. There has been an outcry from businesses against this policy, as they see a direct loss of tourism with these actions. In addition, we should not be burdening our taxpayers in a pandemic with more fees when they take their families for recreation on our beautiful beach. This is a time of crisis, and to me this is the time that you allow a year (or two) of little revenue, until the economy comes back and people can afford increases- remember, the beach reserve fund has well over $4 million, which puts them in a good position to withstand this emergency situation.

Do you support existing public parking at CRMC-designated coastal access points across the town?

I fully support the existing public parking. I attended the workshops held on the expansion of parking, and was disappointed that, once again, the Council had meetings without having a structure that allowed stakeholders to bring up differing views and work towards a compromise acceptable to both sides. The next Town Council should return to more objective workshops, and work to protect access to the ocean which must include parking near these designated points.

Anything else?

Everything else! I believe the people of Narragansett are above the Town Council, and councilors should take their instruction from the voters. We should be proud of, and fully fund, our educational institutions of schools and libraries. I believe that all meetings should be recorded, as that will help with our current lack of transparency. I want to see work done on the financial documents, to make them more accessible to the public, and the budget workshops held with detailed input from the department heads. The town council should set priorities early in term, and work towards accomplishing those goals.

Candidates for Narragansett Town Council will be profiled in the order of Primary Election results, beginning with first place and ending with tenth place. Candidates were asked to limit responses to 1,000 words. 

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