Being a councilman of Ward 7 during campaign season doesn’t give Democrat Charles “C.J.” Donovan much time to spend with his family.
That’s why his daughter, Shaelin, 7, a second grader at Greenwood Elementary School, often joins him on his walks of the ward, while his wife, Julie, watches their 18-month-old son, Matthew.
“With campaigning, you’re away from your family for a bit and this is a way for us to spend time together,” said Donovan, who works full-time as a senior policy and oversight specialist for Coastal Resource Management Council and Narragansett Bay Commission. “When she’s in the mood, she’ll come out with me for a half-hour or so and hang out. She likes it. We get to laugh and joke.”
All fun and games aside, Donovan, a resident at 346 Potters Avenue, is taking the election very seriously and hopes to be re-elected. At the moment, he’s focused on meeting new members of the ward.
“I’ve been talking to people, saying ‘Hi,’ and introducing myself,” he said. “For the first time, there are a lot of new voters in the area and I’ve been going out and hearing what’s on their minds.”
If re-elected, Donovan said he looks forward to continuing the work he’s started with the council, as well as engaging in new matters.
For starters, “keeping an eye” on T.F. Green Airport is a priority. He previously served as the chairman of the airport land use commission.
“I want to make sure they are a good neighbor,” he said, noting that he wants to ensure they adhere to the agreement they signed.
Also, he’s interested in working more closely with the business community. He hopes to encourage growth in the city.
“I’m going to make that a major effort this coming session if the people of Ward 7 see fit to bring me back,” said Donovan. “I’d like to put together a committee that would work with business communities and make things a little easier for them. We want to alleviate the tax burden on the citizens by making the businesses a little easier to operate. I think there’s a whole lot of potential there.”
Further, since he formerly served as chair of the finance committee before Ward 8 Councilman Ray Gallucci took over nearly four years ago, he plans to continue to be a “watch dog” in terms of city finances.
“I want to make sure all financial matters are scrutinized and looked at carefully,” Donovan said. “I want to make sure that all the expenditures that are coming before us are either going out to bid or are absolutely necessary. Those are the important matters that don’t necessarily grab the headlines, but are nonetheless just as important.”
Similarly, he said he’s interested to see a consolidation of services amongst departments within the city. He believes there’s a lot of room for savings.
“I’d like to explore that a little more with the administration,” he said. “I did have an opportunity to talk about it with the mayor and [the mayor’s Chief of Staff] Mark Carruolo, and they seem to be receptive to looking into it. The mayor said there are some obstacles to overcome, but he’s willing to work with me and I’m excited about that.”
Donovan also said he’s concerned with the day-to-day issues that constituents often bring to him. For instance, public safety in neighborhoods, including speeding and stop signs, is paramount to him.
“I think a councilman needs to be aware of that and get those issues addressed,” he said. “As important as some of the bigger issues are, public safety issues are just as important. I like to be in tune with the people in Ward 7.”
Donovan said he has enjoyed his time on the council, where he has served since 2000. During that time, he said he is most proud of his efforts to increase senior tax exemptions, help to preserve open space at Rocky Point and help cut the latest budget by at least 3 percent.
He also is pleased he was able to assist the approval of the Apponaug Overlay District.
“Although there isn’t a shovel in the ground yet, the ball is rolling and it’s going to be phenomenal,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a great addition to the area because I think it will alleviate a lot of traffic and open up the area to more friendly activities.”
Former councilman Al Gemma and retired Warwick police officer Bill Russo, both independents, are opposing Donovan.
In June, Donovan held a fundraiser at the Remington House Inn at 3376 Post Road and raised about $4,000 for his campaign. He’s thinking about holding another.
“I may do a cookout closer to the election to thank people for all their help,” he said. “I’m looking forward to Election Day.”