WARWICK, RI — Democrat incumbent Ward 6 Warwick City Councilor for an uninterrupted 18 years, Donna Travis, a member of several community organizations for decades and an active member of the Oakland Beach community, is seeking another term Nov. 3.
Travis has served on the Volunteers of Warwick Schools (VOWS) for 30 years, the Oakland Beach Association for 35 years, St. Rita’s Women’s Club for 25 years, and the Oakland Beach Carousel Foundation for 20 years. She once donated her family van to the Warwick Police Department.
Warwick Post.com emailed the same 10 questions to each Ward 6 candidate Monday night and gave them until Friday, Oct. 30, to respond. Each was asked to acknowledge receipt of the emailed questions, and their intent to answer them.
Travis acknowledged receipt and and returned her answers on Oct. 28. Following are her answers, printed verbatim:
1) During the May 27 budget hearing, Mayor Solomon failed to answer or to pledge to answer several questions posed by citizens and Council members, as reported in the Warwick Post article: Warwick Budget Hearing Questions Unanswered.
What would be your approach to handling this behavior if it were your questions ignored? What if a citizen or fellow council member’s budget question went unanswered?
TRAVIS: I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know that I would want my questions answered. Not answering questions can only lead to bigger problems. I understand, however, that some questions cannot be answered on the spot, but need to be addressed as information becomes available and before votes are taken.
2) Warwick City Council subcommittee meetings often run over time, delaying the start of the full Council meeting. What is your assessment of this process? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
TRAVIS: I think the Council President should step up and put a time limit on subcommittee meetings. It is not fair to the public ( told to be there at a certain time) to wait hours to be heard or have the meeting ended before they can be heard. I would not be against having some subcommittee meetings that, by their nature to run over, be held on a separate night. Much of the information and materials could be gathered earlier before the actual Council meeting without violating the Open Meeting laws.
3) What other processes of the City Council would you argue to change?
TRAVIS: We have to stay on the agenda! Questions or comments not on the agenda only distract from the focus of what needs to be accomplished. Also, if comments from the public attack council members, then the Council President needs to step in and protect all council members. I also think that we have too many quarterly reports.
4) During a recent City Council meeting, Councilman Ed Ladouceur complained of his inability to get the City to properly repair Lipitt Park following a recent car crash that damaged it. The meeting ended with his successful resolution forcing the City to make the repairs.
Should citizens expect that their council representative must pursue such measures to secure City services? How would you address this problem?
TRAVIS: If you have an issue, I would recommend that you go directly to the Department or its Director as a first step. Your Councilperson should be happy to provide that information to you. Failing that, the Councilperson, Department director, and the Mayor should sit down and resolve the issue. It should not have to come before the City Council by Resolution.
5) Looking back at the 2019 Warwick Schools budget crisis, how would you handle city and school communication differently?
TRAVIS: The best way to solve all big problems is to have everyone involved at the table with open communication. This is where you begin.
6) Millions of dollars have been budgeted the last few years for repairing Warwick’s roads, yet only a fraction of that amount is ever used. For instance, in the article, Schools’ Budget Ask Would Have Added $104 to Median Tax Bill, DPW Director Mat Solitro reported there was $3.1M unspent from the $5M in the previous year’s paving budget. This year, the paving budget was reduced to $500K, but a $10M bond has been secured for paving.
Will you continue to vote to approve budgeting paving funds in amounts the city typically fails to use?
TRAVIS: We have a budget for paving, but we don’t know how much can be spent in any one year due to what contractors can do and weather conditions. Every year we don’t know if there will be any monies left over, if any.
7) How would you make the city’s road projects more accountable and transparent to citizens?
TRAVIS: The worst roads need to be addressed first. I would like the input of the community on the conditions of the roads in their neighborhoods. I would also like the Department of Public Works to give me a list of roads rated by conditions on a scale of one-to-ten and get that information out to the public.
8) Was the surprise Dec. 20 special meeting to ratify the Firefighter’s Contract called by the Warwick City Council, catching one Council member on a flight, and ultimately ruled illegal, a wise decision?
TRAVIS: We were served to be at a Special Council Meeting by a Constable and didn’t know that it was illegal until we were at the meeting. Enough said.
9) Considering the Warwick Firefighters’ union’s past history with contractual agreements, was it wise to pass the document with uncorrected errors?
TRAVIS: Per the City Solicitor, the errors were to be corrected in the final version of the contract. The City Council can only vote up or down. We were made to understand that the language would be correct and intact before implementation.
10) President Donald J. Trump has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election, and has violated First Amendment protections with repeated attacks against the press and use of tear gas against peaceful protesters.
What is your position on upholding the Constitution of the United States of America, including the First Amendment? What of the country’s unbroken record of the peaceful transfer of power?
TRAVIS: Of course I believe in our Constitution. Our forefathers built our country on that. Any elected official, regardless of Party affiliation, should adhere to a peaceful transfer of power. It is one of the bedrocks of our Democracy.