4 Independents run for Town Council
Four Independent candidates – Dan Capuano, Evan Katz, J. William Harsch and incumbent Ellen Winsor – have thrown their hats into the ring to try and win one of five Town Council seats in November’s election.
Capuano, 72, has lived in Jamestown for 28 years. He was born in Providence and graduated from Cranston High School. Capuano owns a business. His company leases heavy machinery to customers throughout the country.
Capuano has served on the Buildings and Facilities Committee in Jamestown. He also raises money for the Jamestown Medical Fund, which assists residents unable to pay for medical bills. His hobbies include playing golf and gardening – he grows garlic.
He has four children and four grandchildren. Capuano is single. He is running because he thinks the Town Council needs people with business acumen, and he wants voters to give him a chance to show them what he can accomplish.
Capuano wants the council to review municipal water and sewer rates and find ways to reduce these charges. He feels residents are being asked to pay too much for those utilities.
Although the current council has done a good job holding down property taxes, he says, Capuano still sees room for improvement in the tax rate.
He also wants the council to pay closer attention to infrastructure. He would stress the value of preventative maintenance to preserve town buildings and other assets. Capuano also is concerned about quality of life. Jamestown is a beautiful place to live, and he wants the council to protect the community’s assets, he said.
Harsch, 73, was educated at Williams College and at Harvard Law School. He was born in Washington, D.C., and has been a Jamestown resident for more than 50 years. He is an attorney in private practice.
Harsch has held numerous government appointments. From 1977 to 1980 he was deputy associate director for Environment, Energy, Natural Resources, Science and Technology at the Office of Management and Budget in Washington. He is a former chairman of the state Public Utilities Commission, a past director of the state Department of Environmental Management, and a former chairman of the Rhode Island Energy Council. Harsch is also a U.S. Army veteran and a former member of the Rhode Island Ethics Commission.
He is married to Tina. Harsch has two daughters, a son and a stepson. His hobbies are hiking, traveling, gardening and sailing.
Harsch is running to ensure the council protects the quality of life in Jamestown. He also wants to make sure that the council is ready to deal with state government “demands,” such as new taxes. He wants to make the needs of residents his priority. He also wants the council to uphold the principle of transparent government and support local business and volunteer efforts.
Among resident needs, Harsch listed parking, coastal access and moorings. He also wants the council to conduct a review of municipal bond issues, specifically water and sewer costs, which are passed on to residents due to current bond obligations.
He wants the councilors to be prepared to battle state government over “arbitrary changes in zoning and planning laws,” which could lead to overdevelopment and change the town’s character. Other challenges from the state could include new taxes and appeals of proposals to send tankers carrying liquefied natural gas through Narragansett Bay.
Evan Katz, 23, was born in Jamestown and has lived in town his entire life. He was educated at the Melrose and Lawn avenue schools and at North Kingstown High. Katz holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Rhode Island.
During his sophomore year in college, he completed the one-year Fire Department EMS training program. Katz has recently accepted a new job with a private ambulance company. Currently, he serves as an engine company lieutenant with the Jamestown Fire Department. His hobbies include playing soccer and basketball. He participates in a competitive soccer league and plays on the Fire Department’s basketball team. Katz is single.
He has never held political offi ce. This election is his first venture into public service, except for his involvement with the Fire Department. Katz said his work with the JFD spurred him to find out more about the local government and become involved politically. His uncle, Mike White, is an incumbent on the Town Council. Katz said he has enjoyed discussions with White and ultimately decided to run.
Katz wants the council to address the maintenance of town as- sets. He feels the sitting council has done a good job with the operating budget but needs to do more work on a capital budget. Specifi- cally, he mentioned the old Public Works Department building at Fort Wetherill and the golf course building as two examples of structures that have been allowed to fall into disrepair. Other neglected properties are the recreation center, and the Fort Getty RV park and volleyball courts. Katz said the council should evaluate all town assets, put them on a maintenance plan, and allocate money to pay for improvements.
Katz agrees with the council’s Aug. 20 decision to stop pursuing the wind turbine project based on the costs. He feels the turbine would not have produced sufficient revenue to justify the expense. However, he does support green energy and has been looking into solar opportunities, with an eye to perhaps outfitting municipal buildings with innovative energy solutions, such as solar electrical systems.
Katz would suggest some changes at Fort Getty to establish a better balance between the needs of the RV campers for a trailer park and the demands of town residents for open space.
Winsor, 58, has lived in Jamestown 29 years. She was born in Springfi eld, Mass. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Wells College where she majored in economics and earned a bachelor’s degree with distinction. After college, she studied investments, financial planning and retirement planning at Denver’s College for Financial Planning. She also completed six semesters of undergraduate work at Simmons College and has taken postgraduate courses in various subjects from accounting to architecture.
She listed two occupations – former supervisor and clinical instructor at Beth Israel Hospital, and stock analyst. Her hobbies are architecture, skiing and sailboat racing. She is married to David Coppe.
Winsor, an incumbent, has served three years on the council. Previously, as founder of the LNG Working Group, she helped lead the fight to stop Hess Oil from building a LNG terminal in Narragansett Bay.
Winsor is running to advocate for “fiscally conservative” budgets, which allow for long-term maintenance of town assets and long-term financial solutions. Among the top issues, she mentioned underground infrastructure (specifically sewer and water) and a decision about Fort Getty’s future uses.
Winsor says she will continue to press for Jamestown to appoint a finance committee, an alternative energy committee, and a water and sewer committee.
She also wants a second term to continue her efforts to protect the island’s water quality. She points to her record of conservation accomplishments, such as the council’s acquisition of the Jamestown Shores tax lots, as evidence of her commitment. Winsor supports affordable housing and said it provides a way families can continue to live in town.
She also wants the council to look for new ideas. For example, encourage young inventors and entrepreneurs to come to Jamestown. Winsor thinks the connection could create jobs for a skilled workforce, if the entrepreneurs opt to she would like to stay in Jamestown and develop their product.