Elections

Portsmouth Town Council candidates who deny climate change

This week's candidate forum at Portsmouth Town Hall saw three people running for the Town Council question the reality of climate change. Their comments came at an event organized by the Portsmouth Concerned Citizens (PCC). But a look back to 2016 shows that they are not the only ones.

Here's video clip from the October 10 forum where candidates -- and Town Council incumbents -- Paul Kesson and Liz Pedro voiced their skepticism, with Kesson calling it just a "scientific study" and Pedro explicitly saying "I don't consider climate change a crisis."

Also at the Wednesday forum, candidate Peter Roberts (who, according to the RI Corporations database, is a director of the PCC) said, "There is no change" and "there is no sea level rise either."

But there are other Town Council candidates on record from previous runs in 2016. In an article in the Newport Daily News on October 18, 2016 here's what they had to say:

Incumbent Council President Keith Hamilton: "Town Council President Keith E. Hamilton, a Republican, said during a phone interview that sea levels are rising, but doesn't know the source. “Fearmongers will have you think it's man-made, and we'll all be living at waterfront property at the (town's) high school.”

Portsmouth Concerned Citizens (PCC) president Larry Fitizmorris: "“I don't know there is any direct evidence the seas are rising at all, not saying there are not issues with sea walls in Island Park,” said Larry Fitzmorris, a Republican who is president of Portsmouth Concerned Citizens. “I don't see any data on how high the tide is going to be here, whether shoreline is climbing or subsiding.”

Candidate (and PCC Secretary) Debra Cardoza: "Debra Faber Cardoza, also a Republican, said there must be “concrete evidence” that sea level rise is a threat. “I have seen evidence indicating a very slow rise in sea levels, an inch in a thousand years span,” she wrote in an email. “To me, that does not appear to warrant a dramatic ... action.”

According to the RI Corporations database, the purpose of the PCC is "TO PROVIDE A COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION THROUGH WHICH MEMBER-CITIZENS CAN ACT COLLECTIVELY TO PROMOTE THE COMMON GOOD AND SOCIAL WELFARE OF THE TOWN OF PORTSMOUTH."

Anyone who has read the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change might find that mission statement -- and the comments from the other candidates -- hard to square with acting for "the common good" of a town with as much coastline, and as many homes at risk, as Portsmouth has.

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Thank you, Portsmouth

While we did not prevail tonight, I thank the voters of Portsmouth and congratulate the new members of the Water Board. I am honored to have participated in this election which set record turnout numbers. As a writer, I’ve learned that if you don’t collect a few rejection slips, you’re not aiming high enough when you send out stories. The work goes on, and you can be sure I’ll continue to pitch in wherever I can to help move Portsmouth forward.

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As tax assessor, I will ensure taxpayers of transparency

This letter, as it ran in the Newport Daily News on June 6, 2018

Safe, clean water efficiently flowing to your tap is something you don't want to have to worry about, and I want to help make that happen. I'm running for tax assessor in the Portsmouth Water and Fire District board election on Wednesday, June 13.

This is a nonpartisan election for a largely technical administrative position, and I'd like to explain why I'm a good fit.

After doing doctoral work in communication theory and teaching at the college level for seven years, I moved to the private sector. In my 22-year career as project manager at a multinational firm, I ran multimillion-dollar software development efforts, negotiated contracts, reviewed technical documents, and worked with teams to analyze problems, generate the data to make decisions, and implement solutions. I would love to put this skill set to work to benefit the ratepayers of the Portsmouth Water and Fire District.

As a proud third-generation Portsmouth resident, I've tried to pitch in where I can. I currently serve

on the Portsmouth Conservation Commission and PSD Technology Committee, and I was an appointed member of the most recent Charter Review Committee.

I'm a freelance journalist, and for more than 10 years I've run a website, harddeadlines. com, providing news and commentary on local issues.

As a practiced communicator, I will always work to ensure transparency. My experience in business will help me be a good steward of both Portsmouth's precious resources and our tax dollars.

And as a parent and proud resident of Portsmouth, I will always be guided by what's right for our town.

I ask for your vote next Wednesday, June 13, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the district office, 1944 East Main Road.

John McDaid, Portsmouth

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Portsmouth Water District Election set for Wednesday, June 13

On Wednesday, June 13, 2018, registered voters residing in the Portsmouth Water and Fire District will elect two (2) Tax Assessors and one (1) Tax Collector for a three year term to the seven member Administrative Board.  The polls will be open from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM at the District's office at 1944 East Main Road.

Walter H. Coelho of 162 King Phillip St., incumbent Theodore T. Czech of 120 Roger Williams Ct., David M. Gleason of 63 Massasoit Ave., and John McDaid of 65 Gormley Ave. are running for the Tax Assessor’s seat.

Incumbent Frederick W. Faerber, III is running for the Tax Collector’s seat.

As required by the recent change in State Law, voters will be required to show identification to vote in the District’s election.

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

Full disclosure: I am a candidate for the Tax Assessor position. You can find my campaign web site at johnmcdaid.com.

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Portsmouth Water District announces final June 13 ballot

The Portsmouth Water and Fire District will hold its annual election of officers on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 at the District's main office at 1944 East Main Road. The polls will open at 7:00 AM and close at 8:00 PM.

Of the Board's seven seats, the positions of two (2) Tax Assesors and one (1) Tax Collector are up for election. 

Running for the position of Tax Assessor are Walter H. Coelho of 162 King Philip St., incumbent Theodore T. Czech of 120 Roger Williams Ct., David M. Gleason of 63 Massasoit Ave., and John McDaid of 65 Gormley Ave.

Running for the position of Tax Collector is incumbent Frederick W. Faerber III of 271 Sprague St.

As required by the recent change in State Law, voters will be required to show identification to vote in the District's election.

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

Full disclosure: I am one of the candidates running for Tax Assessor. You can find my campaign web site at JohnMcDaid.com.

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John Vitkevich denied ballot placement in PWFD election

John Vitkevich speaks at the PWFD Board meeting

At the meeting of the Portsmouth Water and Fire District Board on the evening of May 15, the group voted, 4-2, to reject the nomination papers of John Vitkevich, denying him a place on the ballot for the June 13 election.

At issue was a mismatch between Vitkevich's "Declaration of Candidacy" (the form indicating intent to seek office) which was made out for the position of "Tax Collector," and the nomination papers (on which candidates gather the signatures of eligible voters who nominate them for a position) which was made out for "Tax Assessor."

Vitkevich had returned 31 valid signatures nominating him for Tax Assessor, although he told the Board his intent had been to run for Tax Collector. This was acknowledged, at the meeting, to have been a clerical error when the nomination papers were issued.

Vitkevich argued that it was the fault of the PWFD. "I was handed those by staff," he said. "I got signatures and told everybody I was running for tax collector."

The Board's attorney, David Fox, advised the Board they had two options: Reject the nomination papers outright, or accept them as an intent to run for the position noted on the form.

There was some discussion of the options, and Vitkevich stated that he "would not run for assessor." Asked if he had read the papers listing the incorrect office, he said, "I did read them."

Fox made the observation that everybody who signed the papers "could presumably read English," to which Vitkevich responded, "Of course they could. They don't speak Spanish."

When general manager Jessica Lynch said that the staff error was not intentional, Vitkevich responded, "Oh yes it was."

One member of the Board asked if it was possible to reschedule the election, to which another candidate in attendance responded, "You will get complaints from the other candidates." Attorney Fox also indicated that the date was set in the Board's by-laws.

After about fifteen minutes of discussion, the Board voted to reject Vitkevich's papers, 4-2.

Chair Phil Driscoll and Treasurer Allen Shers were in the minority, with Tax Assessors Ted Czech and Michael Nott, Moderator Ron Molleur, and Tax Collector Fred Faerber voting to reject. Water Commissioner Andrew Kelly was not in attendance.

Vitkevich promised he would appeal the decision to the Board of Elections and contact news media. "This is not gonna look good on the Portsmouth Water and Fire District," he said. He demanded a copy of the declaration of candidacy, which Lynch provided.

Editorial note: I was certified, at this meeting, to appear on the ballot for Tax Assessor, and I was the candidate who objected to the proposal to move the date of the election. No other news media were in attendance, or I would not have reported on this since I was a participant. Since I was not expecting to report on this, I did not bring my recorder, so quotes are from my handwritten notes; since the meeting was recorded officially, I stand ready to update if I got anything wrong.

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Note: Please be aware I'm running for office

Readers should be aware that I am currently a candidate for Tax Assessor on the Portsmouth Water and Fire District Board, in an election to be held Wednesday, June 13. Any posts bearing on that race should be read in that context. For my campaign page, please visit JohnMcDaid.com.

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Nomination papers submitted for Portsmouth Water Board election

Today, our campaign turned in almost 60 signatures on nomination papers, which is the first step to appearing on the ballot for the Portsmouth Water and Fire District Board election on June 13. The minimum number of signatures required  is 25, but candidates always get extras in case some are not validated by the canvasser.

Collecting signatures is a great opportunity to have conversations with voters about their issues, and over the last three days, I heard questions about how water quality information is communicated and the relatively recent change to a quarterly billing cycle, among others.

I want to thank my friends Terri Cortvriend and Linda Ujifusa who helped collect signatures. Also have to say thanks to  the folks who have already contributed to our campaign — because of their generous contributions, I  can now plan additional opportunities to get my message out. Thank you.

For more information, please visit my campaign web site where I'll be sharing any election-related posts.

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Responding to attack by an elected official

Following the Portsmouth Water and Fire District election last week in which Mr. Phil Driscoll ran unopposed, the newly re-elected Clerk took the time to attack me in letters to the editor of the Newport Daily News and Portsmouth Times.

Calling me an "antagonist," Mr. Driscoll criticized me for supporting a write-in candidate. You can read his letter in the paper or online version, and my response, included below, appeared in yesterday's Daily News, and should be in next week's Portsmouth Times.

To the editor:

When an elected official attacks a private citizen for being involved in civic life, it should not pass unremarked. So when the newly re-elected Portsmouth Water and Fire District Clerk, Phil Driscoll, denounces me in a letter to the editor published on 6/28, I feel compelled to respond.

Mr. Driscoll calls me an “antagonist” and alleges that a “surreptitious write-in campaign” was mounted against him. What did I do to merit his ire? I ran into someone outside the polling place who said they were doing a write in campaign and I posted that on Facebook. (And on harddeadlines.com — thanks, Mr. Driscoll, for mentioning the name of my news blog!)

In my opinion, the public is always best served by contested elections. Especially for a quasi-municipal entity with taxing authority. Apparently, Mr. Driscoll disagrees.

As to Mr. Driscoll’s assertion that I question his environmental credentials, I’ll quote the self-description from his letter: “I am a committed advocate of the environment but that does not mean that I wallow in the DEM, DOH and EPA trough of fallacy, fable and fantasy.”

Personally, I respect the validity of peer-reviewed science. You should draw your own conclusions about whether Mr. Driscoll does based on his words.

John G. McDaid
Portsmouth

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02871, Localblogging, pwfd, Elections

Portsmouth Water District election June 14

13may24_vote.jpgThe Portsmouth Water and Fire District will hold its annual election of officers on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 at the District's main office at 1944 East Main Road. The polls will open at 7:00 AM and close at 8:00 PM.

Of the Board's seven seats, the positions of one (1) Clerk and (1) Water Commissioner are up for election.

Running for the position of Clerk is incumbent Philip T. Driscoll of 169 Immokolee Drive.

Running for the position of Water Commissioner is Andrew V. Kelly of 33 Pine St.

As required by the recent change in State Law, voters will be required to show identification to vote in the District’s election.

Commentary
Just because you only see one candidate for each position, please don't assume that these races will be uncontested. Turnout is typically very low (in recent years, candidates have won with 64 votes. Not by 64 votes. With a total of 64 votes) for these elections (to a quasi-governmental body with taxing power) and it is possible for undeclared candidates to succeed on a write in. In fact, this has actually happened in Portsmouth Water Board elections. If you're a ratepayer in the District, I urge you to get out to the polls on June 14. Don't worry -- I'll remind you :)

Editorial note: The section before the commentary is written from a news release.

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