DeStefanis raises stakes for control of NP Town Council

DeStefanis raises stakes for control of NP Town Council

NORTH PROVIDENCE - When Ray DeStefanis beat out incumbent Town Councilor John Lynch in the Sept. 9 primary, there was a lot more to it than just a new Democrat representing the people of District 2.

The win by a man Mayor Charles Lombardi supported shifts the dynamics of a council that has long voted against many of Lombardi's initiatives, and it raises the stakes for a town-wide general election for council in November.

Shane Piche, an independent who is challenging at-large Councilor Alice Brady for her seat, is also drawing support from Lombardi, and, like DeStefanis, is running on a platform of moving the town forward instead of sitting on stalled projects.

A win by Piche would potentially set up a 4-3 vote for Lombardi's proposals. The vote has long been 5-2 against Lombardi on many issues.

Lombardi told The Breeze he thought the residents of District 2 might be ready for a change to a new voice, DeStefanis, and he believes Piche makes an equally qualified candidate to replace Brady.

"I think a vote for Shane will be a vote for better representation on the council," he said.

Lombardi said he is "excited for the change" to DeStefanis but emphasized that DeStefanis won on his own merits, that "he worked his heart out." A vote for DeStefanis was "a vote for better government," said Lombardi. He said he is confident that Piche, if he wins the at-large race, will also be his own man on the council.

The mayor said all he wants from anyone on the council is independence and common sense.

"I just would like to see council people sitting in North Providence that are going to vote their own mind," he said. "Even if it's a mistake, at least it's their own vote."

According to Lombardi, neither DeStefanis nor Piche is the "type of guy to be told what to do." And, as has always been his practice, said Lombardi, he will refrain from demanding that anyone make a particular vote.

Council President Kristen Catanzaro, who worked closely with Lynch on his re-election bid, said she's "not worried at all" about DeStefanis changing the balance of power on the council.

"I think once Ray gets in the position, he will understand the responsibility of the council," she said. "He will be making the decisions based on education, based on the information available.

"Those are the things we've all stood for, to make informed decisions," she said. "It's not about, 'he's with me or he's not with me.'"

Like Lynch has done, Brady also adds "a lot of value to the council," said Catanzaro. Brady spearheaded the program to get council meetings broadcast live online, she said, and has been instrumental in several other initiatives, including a town-wide mapping effort.

Catanzaro said she's "not going to pre-judge" DeStefanis before she even sees him in action on the council.

DeStefanis has pledged to vote his own conscience on all council matters, saying he'd never dream of taking orders from Lombardi on how to vote.

Like DeStefanis, Piche is running to "restore pride" in North Providence and to be a "voice" on a council where he says Brady is often forced into inaction. Brady is a "respectful person," according to Piche, but she often has to leave the stage when it comes to police, fire or school issues because of her numerous conflicts of interest with family members.

Brady said Monday that she is "an advocate for the best interests" of her constituents, and "I truly don't think there will be an impact" from the DeStefanis win on her race.

"My accomplishments speak for themselves," she said. She said she's one of seven votes on the council. Sometimes members agree, sometimes they don't, but she can always guarantee that she will do all appropriate analysis and research to protect taxpayers' best interests.

Brady said she is "absolutely not" an obstructionist to Lombardi, saying she bases the decisions she makes on "the information we receive" and "independent research."

Piche, who could not be reached for comment, has called for leadership that will "overcome the political machine that has had a stranglehold on our community." Like DeStefanis, he is not happy with the current council on a number of fronts, saying they've worked to "derail progress," according to press releases.

Brady calls herself a "fiscal watchdog for the taxpayers," and has promised to continue that representation on the council as she fights for "balanced budgets" and "fiscal integrity."

Lombardi said that both Lynch and Brady have been part of the group that has hurt taxpayers with its decisions, from pushing to close the town's VIN (vehicle identification number) station, at a cost of thousands of dollars per year, to tying up a new solar farm, at a cost of what he says is about $300,000 to date.

Those same council members have rejected a proposed move to use the North Providence Police Department's $60 million Google fund to buy valuable land in the center of town, said Lombardi, choosing instead to spend money out of the town's taxpayer-funded surplus account.

Comments

Hey taxpayers, not having checks and balances power on your town council is just giving your checkbook to the Mayor.
Look at what the town council has stopped; many of the reckless spending binges that the administration has brought to the table: Like giving 100% tax credits to the 1st solar proposal (the town council has negotiated with the 2nd solar proposal to gain an economic benefit as well as treat all of the existing businesses with the same fairness in tax rebates). Obviously DeStefanis and Piche don't understand the importance of protecting the taxpayer in this Distressed Community. We can't have rubber stamps on the town council for the Mayor or we will suffer complete financial breakdown, look at the administrations record, complete financial mismanagement, tax increases 5 out of 6 years, highest tax rates on property, 4th highest car tax rates and no foreseeable spending cuts. We Need Checks and Balances by a non-partisan Town Council, we need to keep Alice Brady for these and many more reasons. Same goes for the Google money, we need the town council to show financial restraint and not blow it on wanting to spend now without looking at the consequences. The land across from the high school has already taken down some town officials let's not let it take down the town and pay for a police academy vs. at potential school location or tax generating business.

The simple fact that you have the same people vote with the mayor on every vote or against the mayor on every vote, tells you all you need to know about politics in NP.
They all must go!!!!!
If we can't find a person who will represent the town residents, then they shouldn't be sitting up there. They represent US. Not themselves. Not the mayor. Not to be against the mayor. They represent us.