Jeff Cianciolo Questionnaire Responses
Each candidate was asked to answer seven questions about East Greenwich and their candidacy for Town Council.
1. Why are you running?
I am seeking reelection because I believe that I can continue to improve how the Town interacts with and delivers services to the taxpayers. Although East Greenwich residents already benefit from high quality municipal services and the best school district in the state, we must not be complacent in looking to improve efficiencies and how we spend taxpayer dollars.
2. What are the three most important issues facing the Town of East Greenwich and how would you address each?
Continued effort towards consolidation of School and Town functions. Citizen finance committees for both the School and the Town have highlighted an “us versus them” culture that permeates interactions between School and Town employees. At best this is a distraction; at worst it leads to municipal inefficiencies and wasted tax dollars. Regardless, none of it serves the taxpayers’ interests. The current Town Council and School Committee have developed a positive working relationship (even though they may not necessarily always be in agreement). This is a major improvement from prior years and has helped foster collaborative efforts to improve Town/School interactions.
Continued efforts toward better transparency. On a number of occasions during my initial term, there have been instances where reporting to the Town Council has been less than perfect. Although the shortfalls may not necessarily have been of significant or intentional, we must continue to expect better. Elected officials are the watch guard of taxpayer’s money and must understand how that money is being spent. As an additional step toward transparency, I will be seeking Council approval to pay the cost to videotape and post Town Council meetings on the Town website. For a nominal amount of money, we can make the meetings available to any who are interested.
Eliminating the East Greenwich Fire District. By most any measure, Rhode Island has too many cities, towns, fire districts and other fiefdoms. This bloated infrastructure results in government inefficiency, wasted tax dollars and lost accountability to the taxpayers. If the voters support the referendum, I will work with our elected state legislators and the Fire District to pursue the voters’ wishes.
3. Do you think the EG Fire District should be merged with the Town, even if it involves a “hostile takeover”?
If the voters do not approve the Fire District Merger referendum, the Town should not take any “hostile” or other action to pursue a merger. Trying to force a merger when the voters in a general election have said otherwise would be contrary to my obligation as an elected official and waste of taxpayer resources.
4a. Is there any part of town government spending that should be reduced?
4b. Is there any part of government that should not be cut?
4c. Is there anything that should be expanded?
Town residents pay a significant sum of money in real estate and auto taxes. Residents expect a high level of service in return. There are core obligations that any municipal government must provide such as schools, public safety and public works. We should not be looking at expanding the role of our local government but should continue to focus on the core functions that are currently being provided and deliver those services efficiently.
5. Beyond the town’s financial agreement with New England Tech, in what ways should the town seek to benefit from the school’s presence?
The town should look for mutually beneficial opportunities to expand its relationship with New England Tech. One of the reasons the NEIT Ad Hoc Committee exists is to facilitate discussions of these types of opportunities.
6a. Should the Financial Town Meeting be abolished?
Yes. The FTM is an anachronistic remnant of old New England whose utility has long since passed. The Town and the voters acknowledged as much in 2004 by amending the Financial Town Meeting provisions of the Town Charter. The net effect of these amendments is that small groups of people no longer have the ability to hijack the town budget at the FTM. The FTM is now essentially a formality and should be eliminated.
6b. What ideas do you have to better engage people in town government?
We are fortunate in East Greenwich to have residents who care about their town and are generous with their time and talents. Town boards and commissions, school PTG groups, youth, religious, arts, cultural and other organizations are all filled with passionate and dedicated individuals who make our community the best in the state. What is important is that we have residents who are fully engaged in the community – some take on the responsibility of running for elected office while others choose to help with the PTG, coach a youth basketball team or run a church food drive. We need to continue to promote keeping people engaged in all aspects of our community.
8. In 100 words or fewer, explain why people should vote for you.
I am analytic and look at all sides of an issue prior to making decisions. I do not bring a special agenda or personal bias to office. My primary concern has and will continue to be to make decisions which are in the best interest of the taxpayers. As a business attorney, I advise businesses small and large every day on the matters that have a direct impact on the success or failure of a business. I bring this expertise and mindset to the position of Town Councilor.