Mark Gee, who is running for a second term on the Town Council, is a genial person but he can be forceful too. As a town councilor and an EG Fire District commissioner, Gee finds playing the outsider a comfortable fit. He’s also something of a town meeting junkie – there is no other town official who attends as many meetings as Gee.
“I have always been driven to serve,” said Gee in his response to the questionnaire sent out to all the council candidates.
“The steady march of property taxes – onward and upward” is a big issue facing the Town of East Greenwich, Gee said. He is also very concerned with the growth of government spending and debt as well as unfunded liabilities for East Greenwich’s pension system and what Gee calls the sleeping giant: OPEB, other post-employment benefits. These include health care, life insurance, and other post-retirement compensation.
While East Greenwich may be better off than many communities, Gee said the Fire District alone is facing unfunded liabilities of $25 million and he predicts the town’s is equally daunting. “We've got to acknowledge this liability and exercise leadership to reverse course,” said Gee.
He is a proponent of the ballot question on merging the Fire District with the town. “It makes sense to me to reduce the barriers between town departments,” he said. “I think we've got to keep an open mind about change in this question and others. The impediments to change include fear (of the unknown), power, territory and egos.”
Gee said he looks to voters for guidance about town spending. “I ask our citizens and taxpayers to speak out to me and other councilors about [the size of town government]. We'll have better government if and when we demand it,” he said.
As for how to boost voter involvement in town government, Gee said, “People seem to get involved in government matters when there is a problem. . . . Most residents are generally happy with the way EG operates, and share a common vision of what the town should be. If you have a question or problem, contact the Town Council and we'll help resolve it. When the need arises, I have no doubt that people will respond in force.”
When asked why residents should vote for him, Gee said,
"I have never asked someone to vote for me – just to vote. Voters will cast their vote(s) for the candidate(s) they feel comfortable with the candidate(s) who will represent responsibly their interests effectively and honestly. I have striven and will strive to do that, for the common good.”
Mark Gee is one of six people seeking a term on the five-person Town Council. East Greenwich Patch is publishing responses to questionnaires sent to all the Council candidates this week. To read Mark Gee's full questionnaire responses, click here.
You can read about candidates Jean Ann Guliano here, Jeff Cianciolo here, Michael Isaacs here, Brad Bishop here, and Mike Kiernan here.