When I took office as Mayor, I pledged that we would fulfill my mission statement: that all children would enter school ready to learn, that they would leave school ready to work and lead productive lives and that every resident would live in a safe and nurturing community.
Every day for the past 12-and-a-half years, we have worked toward that goal.
• Environmental protection, restoration and preservation have been a priority of my administration. In addition to our innovative automated trash collection program, the city has taken over trash and recycling collection at municipal and school buildings, greatly increasing the amount of materials that are being recycled and, therefore, diverted from the state landfill.
More than 200 acres have been protected from future development, and, in some cases, restoration of valuable habitat is ongoing. Preservation of 41 acres at the historic Rocky Point property – a full mile of shoreline – has allowed for continual, public access to this jewel overlooking Narragansett Bay.
We’re proud to be working closely with the state Department of Environmental Management and the U.S. Small Business Administration to preserve the remaining 83 acres as a public park for open space and passive recreational activities. On September 17, 2012, Governor Chafee announced the SBA has accepted the state’s purchase offer for the remainder of the property – paid for with an overwhelmingly-approved voter bond in 2010 – and additional resources. We eagerly await the federal court’s ruling of this proposal.
• Fiscal responsibility has also been a hallmark of my tenure as Mayor. New, three-year pacts with our police, fire and municipal unions increase health care co-payments, contain no wage increases and reduces the city's unfunded pension liability by $32 million. With budget surpluses for 11 of the past 12 years, and department directors who carefully control their budgets, we are continuing to provide good quality services, even as state aid to municipalities has ben cut.
• Our Family Support Network provides a comprehensive, wraparound array of services for families in crisis. A cooperative partnership among the city’s Division of Youth Services, the School Department, local businesses and non-profit agencies, the Police Department and the National Guard has helped us to provide children and their guardians – in many cases, their grandparents – with the tools they need to become self sufficient.
• Our Division of Senior Services works closely with a registered nurse, social workers and division staff to provide a wide variety of programs. From help in preparing taxes, to informational seminars on Medicare, to screenings for diabetes and high blood pressure, to providing transportation, our employees are helping to ensure that our senior population remains healthy, active and independent for years to come. The Pilgrim Senior Center (and its former counterpart in Buttonwoods) was the first in the state to earn national accreditation.
• Quality heath care should be available to all citizens, regardless of their ability to pay. The City of Warwick teamed with the Comprehensive Community Action Program to construct the Everett C. Wilcox Health Center on Buttonwoods Avenue. The center offers primary care for adults, adolescents and children, as well as prenatal care, women’s services, immunizations, school physicals, employment physicals, health screenings and laboratory services, whether they are able to pay or not.
Because poor dental care not only adversely affects oral health but can also lead other medical issues, the City and CCAP teamed up to open a dental clinic at the Wilcox Center. This facility, too, provides service to anyone in need of care. A mobile dental unit is helping us to ensure that school children throughout Warwick are keeping their teeth and gums healthy.
• Prevention and proactive measures are vital to ensure the health and well being of our citizens. We have regularly promoted Stroke Awareness Month – and were honored by the American Stroke Association for our efforts; have partnered with the ER Card to ensure that seniors’ medical information is instantly available to emergency personnel in a crisis; we have established the Kent Heart Safe Foundation to fund the purchase of AEDs and promote and offer CPR training to adults and teenagers; have invested in state-of-the-art emergency response vehicles and equipment; and encourage city employees to go for regular cancer screenings.
• Working cooperatively with our non-profit agencies and state partners in Warwick, we are helping to feed the hungry; provide shelter for the homeless; comfort children who are mourning the loss of a loved one; provide support to the physically frail and those with mental disabilities; help those battling addictions to overcome their problems; and allow battered women and their children to escape abusive homes and begin new lives free of fear.
My administration has also, among other things, installed LED lights in municipal buildings and traffic lights and crosswalk signals; expanded the municipal tree planting program; preserved over 200 acres of land as open space; participated in two annual Sundance Summits; encouraged other municipalities to join the Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement; supported ongoing sewer infrastructure and facility improvements and expansion; supported Clean the Bay’s efforts; adopted a no-idling policy for municipal vehicles; and participates on the Green Hospitality and Tourism Leadership Council, a multi-agency effort to help industry businesses become more environmentally friendly.