Tikoian opposes O’Donnell’s appointment to Smithfield budget board

Tikoian opposes O’Donnell’s appointment to Smithfield budget board

SMITHFIELD – Seven members were appointed to the Budget and Financial Review Board last Tuesday despite protests from council member David Tikoian, who said he felt there needed to be more diversity on the board.

Tikoian said the council should not appoint CEO of the YMCA of Greater Providence Steven O’Donnell, who worked for the Rhode Island State Police for 29 years, ending his career as head of the department.

Tikoian said in an interview with The Valley Breeze & Observer that he does not have a personal problem with O’Donnell, who was his boss while he worked with the State Police. Rather, he said he does not feel O’Donnell has the financial experience and background to be on a budget board.

“I thought there were better options,” he said.

In addition to O’Donnell, the members of the Budget and Financial Review Board include Michael Iannotti, Kate Zimmerman, Miroslaw Kula, Michael Tartaglia, Kenneth Sousa and Joseph Tudino.

Tikoian said the council and other committees are diverse in race and gender, and he would like to see all boards and committees be the same way. He applauded O’Donnell for his interest in volunteering on a town board and desire to be involved, but recommended that he move to a recreational committee instead.

“What acumen in municipal finance does he have? None. I don’t see it as a good fit,” Tikoian said.

In his motion to table O’Donnell’s appointment, Tikoian said the nominee has a strong skill set for coaching and in athletics that may be better utilized on another committee, such as the Boyle Athletic Field Committee.

Tikoian was once promoted to the rank of major under O’Donnell’s command.

Last week he noted O’Donnell’s settlement last June with two female ex-YMCA employees in a lawsuit that said the women were harassed and mistreated by O’Donnell. Tikoian said he could not in good conscience support his nomination to “such a critical board.”

“I don’t respect him. I can tell you that, but that’s my opinion,” Tikoian said in a later interview.

O’Donnell said his 29 years at the State Police where he oversaw the budget gives him plenty of experience in municipal finance. He said Tikoian’s actions and words speak for themselves.

“I’m grateful other members of the council can see through his mirage,” O’Donnell said.

He said if Tikoian truly intended for a diverse board, he would have objected to other members as well. He said Tikoian bringing his bias into politics is not good or fair to taxpayers.


The council president objected to his former boss being appointed to a town board, but justifies his position due to the trope of "diversity." Please, everyone can fully see this is just a case of sour grapes and it's very unbecoming to the new council president. Mr. Odonnell enjoys a very fine reputation in the state and this type of gamesmanship reflects poorly upon Mr. Tikoian and the town.

He’s not the council President. He wanted to be.