Mark Lucas, Republican, Ward 2


Mark Lucas has lived in Cranston since 1999 and is a Realtor with Prudential Gammons Realty. He is pictured above with his wife, Meg, and their children, Ryan and Caitlin. Regarding this survey, Mark prefaced his responses by saying, “Decisions cannot be made in a vacuum. Each of these scenarios would be subject to a number of conditions that would need to be considered before deciding on the most viable and appropriate course of action. That being said, I’ll be happy to give you my hypothetical responses.”

School Funding

1. The school department, which got a 7% increase in funding from the city this year, is still short $2.6 million for the 2006/2007 budget after receiving its state aid. In January of 2007, they approach the city council and ask for $2.6 million from the city’s surplus in order to cover their costs. As a member of the council, how would you deal with this request?

A performance audit of the Cranston Public Schools has identified over $1.68 Million of cost savings that could be realized by making changes in how the school system is managed. These cost savings would not impact the children in any way.

The Cranston Public Schools should implement every cost-saving measure before seeking help in paying their bills. The city surplus exists in case of catastrophic events and serves as a health indicator for the bond rating agencies. It is not a safety net for poor management decisions.

I would caution anyone who wishes to raid the city surplus to remember that it is precisely this type of action that nearly bankrupted Cranston only five years ago.

School Closings

2. Although next year’s school budget is funded with another 7% increase from the city, they still do not have enough money to cover their costs and announce that they are going to have to close Daniel D. Waterman Elementary school unless the city comes up with more money for the schools. How would you handle this?

As a parent of a Horton Elementary student and one of several who led the fight against closing the school, I have a personal stake in this issue.

The neighborhood school system is a big part of what makes Cranston such a great city. Closing a school should be the option of last resort, not a quick budget fix.

The operating budget for Waterman is approximately $1 Million. There are a number of cost-saving measures that could be implemented (referring to the performance audit) to free up more than enough money to keep Waterman open (and Horton, too.) I would expect that the School Department, working in conjunction with the School Committee, explore all other cost-saving options before attempting to close yet another high-performing elementary school.

The school funding and budgeting process here in Cranston appears to be broken. If elected, I will introduce a resolution calling for changes in the way the school system is funded. Either 1.) the Cranston School Committee must be subject to the control of the City’s taxing authority (the City Council) or 2.) the Cranston School Committee must have its own taxing authority.

Our children must not be used as bargaining chips in the school budgeting process.

Police Contract

3. In March of 2007, the new Mayor announces that he has reached a contract with the police department, long overdue from 2006. This contract includes yearly raises of 3.5%, 4.5% and 4% for each year of the three-year contract. There is a 3% copay for healthcare. There are no provisions for increasing the number of officers or for minority recruitment, although both were recommended in a 2003 audit. Would you approve this contract?

Hypothetically, no.

Recently, the Mayor asked for recommendations from the City Council as the contract season began – a sort of “wish list.� Only 2 of the 9 Councilors responded (Allan Fung and Jeff Barone.)

Regardless of which side of the aisle the Mayor’s administration sits, I would ensure that my “wish list� as well as my rationale are provided well before contract negotiations are under way.

As a graduate of the Cranston Citizen’s Police Academy, I know that the Police are underpaid, understaffed, and in need of minority recruitment. As a Cranston resident, I know we are overtaxed at the local, state and federal level. As an elected official, it would be my job to provide a balanced solution; advocate for improvements where needed as well as provide a return on investment (ROI) analysis to ensure that the taxpayer is getting the most from their tax dollar.

Floods

4. 2007 brings more floods, including flooding again on Fordson Ave and some surrounding areas. Would you advocate for the city to help residents in flooded areas? If so, what kind of help?

All Cranston residents in areas prone to flooding should own Flood Insurance to protect themselves from loss (floodsmart.gov is a great source of information and has a web-based tool to determine if your property is in a high-risk area.)

The City should do everything within its power to ensure that its infrastructure (storm drains, etc.) is performing at peak efficiency. The City should also ensure that waterways are clear of debris that would contribute to flooding.

Additionally, I support the creation of a revolving fund that provides rapid, zero-interest loans to residents to cover immediate needs in the event of flooding (acting as a type of “gap insurance� between what one would recoup from insurance and one’s deductibles, incidental expenses, etc.)

Federal Funding

5. The New Mayor announces that he has gotten letters from Rep. Langevin and Sen. XXX asking if there are projects that the city would like to seek federal funds to pursue. These include projects for economic development, parks and facilities improvement, safety, education, and social services. What projects, if any, would you suggest for Ward 2, or for the city as a whole?

It’s important to understand that federal funds are not “free money� – we provide that money via those taxes that are imposed on us. We need to balance what we want with what we can afford and explore all funding sources, including private citizens and industry, local and national foundations, and volunteer organizations.

That being said, in Ward 2 we need to:

Revive the Rolfe Street business district (Cranston’s “Main Street.�)

Build or upgrade children’s parks in each neighborhood – Forest Hills, Auburn, Auburn/Friendly, South Auburn, and Eden Park.

Create a more comprehensive and effective program for neighborhood traffic management. (Applicable to all of Cranston.)

Ensure that businesses do not unnecessarily encroach upon residential neighborhoods.

Preserve our neighborhood school model. (Applicable to all of Cranston.)

Ensure that those who may benefit from social service programs have access to those programs. This could be done through satellite offices staffed by volunteers. (Applicable to all of Cranston.)

Create and foster the continued development of community organizations to spearhead neighborhood revitalization/growth. (Applicable to all of Cranston.)

More information on Mark Lucas is available at his campaign website, electlucas.com.

About these ads

10 responses

  1. This is one of two parts to the Ward 2 survey. Coming up tomorrow: Emilio Navarro’s responses. Joe Castellone has decided to back out of participating as the questions are “uncomfortable” for him.

  2. [...] Ward 2 resident and local blogger Kiersten Marek has posted a Question and Answer “interview” with Mark Lucas at kmareka.com [...]

  3. After one read, these seem like well-considered answers. I believe Mr Lucas has set the bar fairly high for Mr Navarro’s responses. It seems clear that Mr Lucas has spent time following the issues, and that his positions represent considered thought. My compliments to Mr Lucas, and I believe he presents himself as a very serious candidate for the position of Councilperson.

    Despite being a life-long Democrat, and decidedly left-of-center on many issues, I also believe that one-party rule is a bad thing. We can clearly see the results at the national level. A viable RI Republican party would, in my opinion, be the best thing that could happen to this state and to the Democratic Party. It was from thoughts like these that I voted for Mr Laffey in 2002. Even though that didn’t work out very well, I will give Mr Lucas all due consideration as a candidate.

    Again, I congratulate you on your responses, Mr Lucas.

    In particular, the issue of floods is one that will need serious thought in the coming years. My compliments to Kiersten for coming up with the question.

  4. I first met Mark in early 2004 when the Forest Hills neighborhood was battling it out with Domestic Bank.

    Domestic Bank was encroaching into our residential area creating a conflict.

    Mark came around with a flyer, encouraging local residents to attend City Hall meetings.

    Around the same time, I enrolled my daughter at Horton along with Mark enrolling his son. They were in the same class.

    Mark was one of the Horton fighters that attended meetings and gave speeches on a consistant basis.

    Mark is a Republican, as I am a Democrat. I believe that as long as there is open and honest conversation, the two ideologies can come up with working solutions to today’s problems.

  5. Kiersten,

    Thank you for providing a forum for the sharing of my ideas and attitudes regarding some top-shelf issues.

    Klaus,

    Thank you for your kind words and consideration. An informed, reasoned voter – no matter what the political leanings – is a wonderful thing to see. I wish I knew who you are.

    Andre,

    I’m proud to have been one of the first that encouraged (some would say ‘hounded’) you to seek the Ward 2 School Committee seat. We’ve been through a lot together, and I’m behind you 100%.

  6. I had the pleasure of meeting Mark recently and I was very impressed. He is not only an intelligent man who understands the issues and has great ideas on how to deal with them, he is also someone who clearly loves this city and wants to help it flourish.

    Mark, I wish you all the best in the election and I look forward to the day that you will be serving on the City Council and encouraging change and growth in this wonderful city!

  7. As i sit here and read the words of mark Lucas as well as the comments of Klaus of the Flooding Issues we have had here in Cranston. Clearly Shows to me that these people have not done their research for these past problems. I am a Resident on Fordson ave and not only did I witness the flooding i also cleaned storm drains that are on the city street that were so heavily clogged with debris. my husband for one month to the day of the october flooding cleaned debris from drains 4 streets away from our own. As for this comment…. All Cranston residents in areas prone to flooding should own Flood Insurance to protect themselves from loss (floodsmart.gov is a great source of information and has a web-based tool to determine if your property is in a high-risk area.)

    The City should do everything within its power to ensure that its infrastructure (storm drains, etc.) is performing at peak efficiency. The City should also ensure that waterways are clear of debris that would contribute to flooding.

    Additionally, I support the creation of a revolving fund that provides rapid, zero-interest loans to residents to cover immediate needs in the event of flooding (acting as a type of “gap insuranceâ€? between what one would recoup from insurance and one’s deductibles, incidental expenses, etc.)…….

    Clearly show me no research has been done … the Damn at the Cranston print works was released! that is what caused our serious flooding issues not just that we live in a flood proned area! the (the city ) released the water that the damn at the cranston print works was holding back.. the reason for this is they were not sure it would hold …”it was a decision made “..is what we were told by the fire marshal himself at the city council meeting held at cranston east, if the damn had been inspected as it should have there would be no question to “will it hold or not”..as for the loans why should we even be offered a zero intrest loan??that is just insulting the city caused this damage not a call from mother nature we had over 5 feet of water in our homes and over 7 feet in our driveway ,,so you tell me ..why did the city offer to pay and did pay claims which many people provided? including my own..

    my question is …if your home was destroyed by the city would you want a zero intrest loan to fix it?

    i realize homes were flooded all over cranston and my heart goes out to these people and i do hope that they get the help they need …but as for the fordson ave .davis street area which was the only area effected by the release of the damn i am still so highly disapointed that people still arent getting it right!

  8. Tracy, Thanks so much for leaving this comment. I thought I paid attention to this issue, but I did not know that the dam at the Cranston Print Works was released. That certainly changes the issue of who was at fault for the flooding in the Fordson Avenue area. You mention that claims were paid to residents in the area, though, so it sounds like the city ultimately took responsibility for the damage they contributed to.

    Again, thank you writing this important information here!

  9. Thank You for your reply and by the way the Cranston Hearld is Sponsoring a Ward 2 Debate Tommorow night at the Cranston Public Library-Garden City. Hope you can make it

  10. Does Joe Castellone have any ideas that he will share at the debate? He hasn’t shared them yet. He loves to bring up John O’Leary and stolen signs. Where are your solutions to the problems?…I have a solution…Make sure Joe Castellone(Republican/Democrat/Independent/GUN OWNER)never gets elected. He’s in it for his own ego.

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