2012-08-16 / News

Dem. incumbents want to stay the course


Four incumbent Democrats – Robert Bowen, William Murphy Michael Schnack and Michael White – are seeking re-election to the Town Council. The four were elected in 2009.

Bowen, 58, is a University of Rhode Island alumnus who has continued his education in postgraduate studies. He is a 13-year resident of Jamestown. Bowen was born in Honolulu. He is employed as an information technology manager at URI. In addition to his work on the Town Council, Bowen served five years as a harbor commissioner and represented that panel on the Traffic Commission. He also served two years on the Wind Energy Committee. His hobbies are fishing, reading and hiking. He is not married and does not have children.

Bowen, the council’s vice president, is running to continue the work he started and to guard against overdevelopment. He has concerns about the emergence of people who want to make big changes in Jamestown, but he wants to see the local government stay the course and “move the town forward, slowly and deliberately.” Bowen said in his view, councilors should be stewards who take the long-term view and resist being drawn into emotional decisions made to secure shortterm gains.

For one example, he cited the wind turbine and said the councilors have invested several years in feasibility studies. One data set is still missing, which councilors need to make a decision. Bowen says the town should collect that missing information, especially since the state will pay the costs.

For another example, he says, the council has made proper decisions about uses at Fort Getty by taking the long-term view. The income stream from the campers paid to replace the pavilion, which had been destroyed by a winter storm. Bowen says his decisions will not please everyone, but feels he is experienced at listening to different viewpoints. Bowen would also like to see the completion of several projects the councilors have launched. Bowen says he has the time, the energy and willingness to give.

Murphy, 62, earned a bachelor’s degree in police science at Eastern Kentucky University. From there he went to Central Michigan University where he graduated with a master’s degree in business management and supervision. Murphy is an alumnus of Portsmouth High School and also holds an associate’s degree in police administration from Salve Regina University. He has lived in town 40 years.

Murphy was born in Panama City, Fla., and is a “self-proclaimed Navy brat.” He is employed as a senior loan officer at a major bank. He is also a small business owner.

Murphy has served on the Town Council since 2009. He previously served from 1997 to 1999. He is a former member of the state General Assembly. He currently serves with the Jamestown Fire Department, the Jamestown Lions Club (twice as club president), the St. Mark Knights of Columbus, the Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion, the Newport County and Jamestown chambers of commerce, and the Military Offi cers Association of America. He is a volunteer for Save the Bay.

Previously, he was a member of the board of directors for the East Bay Community Action Program. He also served with the Affordable Housing Committee, the Jamestown Community Theater, the Jamestown Shores Association, the Friends of Conanicut Battery, and the Newport County Board of Realtors. He is a former vice commander of the Jamestown EMS, and has served as a community service officer for the Police Department. His hobbies are traveling and golf. He is married to Marlene Murphy. The couple wed 39 years ago at St. Mark in Jamestown. They have one son, William H. Murphy XV.

Murphy is running to maintain the Jamestown “way of life,” which is distinguished by services, recreational activities and dedicated professionals, he says. On the council, Murphy has pushed for energy conservation. He has supported maintenance and improvements for town buildings, and backed the Jamestown Shores conservation easement.

Murphy feels the council has made progress upgrading town facilities, but still has work to do to pay for windows and roof repairs at Fort Wetherill, for example. He will also support efforts to repair the seawall on Racquet Road, find funds for the East Ferry seawall, and make doors at Town Hall and the library handicap accessible. He also wants to consider the dockage for fire and harbormaster boats.

Murphy wants residents to increase their use of Fort Getty and has supported improvements at the park including picnic tables, a new boat ramp, a new pavilion, renovated restrooms, a sailing school, and reductions in the size of the campground. He said he will continue efforts at Fort Getty with improvements in parking, the addition of signage, and campsite improvement.

Murphy also supports more conservation easements to protect land. He would also like to enact new ordinances to support local businesses.

To accomplish all these goals while keeping property taxes in line, Murphy says he will examine ways to reduce expenses, such as shared services between the schools and the municipal government offices. He will also urge the council to apply for grants to improve energy efficiency in town buildings and look for savings in property insurance.

Schnack, 51, is a cum laude graduate of Providence College. He also holds a master’s in business administration from the University of Rhode Island. Schnack, the council president, has lived in Jamestown since 1997. He was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, where his father, who served in the U.S. Army, was stationed.

Schnack is employed as director of labor relations for a Global Fortune 500 environmental company. He is charged with union and labor negotiations for the firm’s U.S. operations. His public service record includes two terms as a town councilor (2005-07, 2009-12). He has also served on the Planning Commission from 1999 to 2002, and on the now-discharged Personnel Board (2004-05) and Town Charter Review Committee (2008). He served on the Ambulance Association Compensation Committee from 1998 to 2000.

His hobbies are boating, sailing and hiking. Schnack also plays every Sunday morning on an over- 40 soccer team. He is married to Colleen, who is a school nurse in North Kingstown. He is the father of Michael, 20, and Caitlin, 18.

Schnack is running because he wants to continue the financial management policies that have kept Jamestown’s budget running in the black, while the town has continued to provide services. Schnack said the town is in good financial shape partly because the councilors negotiated with town employees, managed labor contracts fairly but responsibly, cut back on some town employee positions such as police and the animal control officer, consolidated other positions, and switched employees to a health plan that saved money.

As a result, he says, Jamestown has the money to pave the roads and maintain its infrastructure. Schnack said the golf club building, which has fallen into disrepair, will cost some money, but represents a minor problem for the town. He would like to continue managing the budget.

According to Schnack, his past successes on the council include open-space preservation and protection of water resources. He was a member of the council that built the highway barn and finished the Town Hall project. Schnack says the councilors kept taxes low and used Fort Getty revenues to improve the park.

Schnack said his experience as a labor negotiator has trained him to look for consensus on issues so that no side feels marginalized as a winner or a loser and both remain willing to talk. He says he does listen to all sides and not just to the loud voices.

White, 65, earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from California State University-Los Angeles. He continued his studies in graduate school at UCLA. He also attended the State University of New York for two years. He has lived in Jamestown 22 years.

White was born in Plattsburgh, N.Y., and is a decorated Vietnam veteran and Army captain who retired from military service due to disability. White is retired from the U.S. Veterans Administration, now the Department of Veterans Affairs. He is married to Lee, and has two adult children.

White’s public service record includes service on the Town Council and the Planning Commission. He was elected to the council in 2007 and served as vice president and liaison to the School Committee. He also has been active in church and community organizations. White is running to continue the work the council started on the following projects: the highway barn, Town Hall, the sale of the town office building on Southwest Avenue, farmland development rights on North Road, closure of the landfill, new water plant completion, completion of the first phase of the Downtown Improvement Project, the tree farm, revisions of the zoning and harbor ordinances, the merger of the Fire Department and EMS, and organizational changes at the Police Department.

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