When it comes to scoring Mayor Scott Avedisian, voters have consistently given him good grades at the polls and it would be a shock, given the non-campaign of his opponent, that they would do anything else this year.
Mayor Avedisian has done a good job in tough times, steering the city on a course of sound finances, good labor relations and being conscious of the need to position Warwick for the future.
Look at the last two years:
- Avedisian introduced, and the City Council approved, revisions in retiree pension benefits that apply to employees hired after last July that will save the city millions;
- For 11 of the 12 years he has held office, he has been able to draft budgets that maintain quality services and has returned relatively modest surpluses that sustained good bond rating and have given the community “a cushion” for a major disaster;
- Without the rancor witnessed in other communities, the mayor has forged 3-year municipal employee contracts that increase health care co-payments and hold down wage increases, easing the burden on the taxpayer and giving the city a clearer picture of what it can expect over the next several years;
- Mayor Avedisian played a key role in setting the stage for state acquisition of the remaining 82 acres at Rocky Point by seizing the opportunity to secure 41 acres of park shoreline for the city in 2007 and was a player in the recent deal with the Small Business Administration. With the council’s unanimous endorsement, the mayor agreed to have the city abate about $2.3 million in taxes when the sale of the remaining land is finalized. If a developer hopes to swoop in and snatch the property for the negotiated $9.65 million, these taxes would be due.
There are those who will say much of what Mayor Avedisian has accomplished wouldn’t have been possible without the taxpayer. This is true. While a Republican that one would assume would be a tightwad, Avedisian has been generous in supplying services and has never been reluctant to ask more of the taxpayers when it was needed. He has never drafted a budget purely to hold down or reduce taxes.
Jack Kirby is making his third bid for mayor, this time as an independent, and cites taxes as a major issue. Yet he has not put forward a plausible proposal to hold the tax rate down or do away with the automobile tax as he suggests. His plan is to squeeze more out of the airport but has not suggested how he would accomplish this in the face of federal regulations that strictly dictate how airport funds are spent.
Kirby’s campaign has been apathetic. He has virtually spent nothing, hasn’t issued any press releases or a platform and has avoided any opportunities to share the stage with the mayor.
For a first time since the city was incorporated, the Democratic Party has not fielded a candidate for the city’s top post. This is truly incredible in a city where Democrats hold all but two of the locally elected General Assembly and council seats.
Apparently nobody wants to take on Avedisian. Or rather, it seems, they are all waiting for him to run for another office.
Or maybe, like we, have come to the conclusion he’s the best man for the job.