pwfd

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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Portsmouth Water District sets 2019 budget

The Administrative Board for the Portsmouth Water and Fire District approved a $4.32 million operating budget for its 2019 fiscal year that began on May 1st. The 2019 fiscal operating budget has increased 3.65% compared to the 2018 fiscal budget. The approved total budget, which includes capital expenditures and principal payments on debt service, is $4.75 million. There is a 4.51% increase in the 2019 fiscal budget compared to the 2018 fiscal budget.

There are no increases in water usage rates or base charges in the approved budget. The quarterly water rates are $7.28 for the first 5,000 gallons and $10.71 for all water use over 5,000 gallons in the quarter. The average residential customer that uses 60,000 gallons of water per year would have an annual cost of $624.04.

The Board set the District’s property tax rate at $0.21 per thousand dollars of assessed value, which is a $0.01 decrease from the approved FY-18 budget. For a District property assessed at a value of $400,000, the tax bill would be $84.00. Property tax revenue accounts for less than 13% of the District’s total revenue. The use of its taxing authority allows the District to issue general obligation bonds, which offer a more favorable interest rate than revenue bonds, when funding capital projects.

Philip Driscoll, Administrative Board chairman, indicated that the Board is working hard to properly maintain and improve the water system, and to improve efficiency through technology, while providing fair and reasonable rates for customers and taxpayers. To help improve the District’s operational efficiency, Mr. Driscoll encourages customers to pay District water and tax bills using the District’s online payment portal. The portal allows customers to pay by checking account, debit card or credit card at no cost to the customer. To pay online, customers should log on to portsmouthwater.org and click on Pay My Bill. Additionally, customers are encouraged to sign up for CodeRED to be notified of emergencies and shutdowns. Go to https://portsmouthwater.org/codered-emergency-notification-system/ to learn more and to sign up.

Editorial note: Written from a press reeleast.

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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 election results: Driscoll, Kelly win

Both candidates on the ballot in the Portsmouth Water and Fire District election today held on to win, with incumbent Clerk Phil Driscoll racking up 102 votes and newcomer Andrew Kelly picking up 105 to become Water Commissioner. Latecomer write-in candidate Daniela Abbott put up a double-digit total in an effort that fell short.

Unofficial numbers from the machine and hand count at the PWFD office:

Clerk
Phil Driscoll 102
Write ins
Daniela Abbott 42
Gary Gump 2
Not Phil 1

Water Commissioner
Andrew Kelly 105
Write ins
Water Commissioner
Daniela Abbott 5
Phil Driscoll 2
Mickey Mouse 2
Bob Kittredge 1
David Gleason 1
Judy Staven 1

Total ballots cast: 156, out of 13,345 eligible voters, for a turnout of 1.17%

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VOTE TODAY! Portsmouth Water board election [IUpdated]

13may24_vote.jpgThe Portsmouth Water and Fire District election is today, June 14, at the District office at 1944 East Main Road. Polls are open until 8:00pm.

UPDATE: Daniela Abbott told a reporter today that she is encouraging write-in votes for the position of Clerk. This reporter voted for her.

The positions of Clerk and 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 -- with turnout sometimes in the mid-double-digits, a write-in can surprise everyone in this race.

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