The Cranston City Council Finance Committee has unanimously recommended the appointment of Susan Stenhouse as the city’s new director of senior services.
“I am thrilled,” said Stenhouse, a Warwick resident and former City Council member in that community, following the committee’s Dec. 5 vote. She cited her “lifelong commitment to providing service to the senior population.”
“Cranston would be lucky” to have Stenhouse as an employee, said Councilman Donald Botts Jr., calling her a “fine public servant.”
Aside from her community involvement in Warwick, where she served as the Ward 1 councilwoman, Stenhouse has previously worked in the State House, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and in the hotel industry. The committee’s recommendation now heads to the full Cranston City Council.
Currently, the senior services director post is being filled by co-directors Ray Sinapi and Nancie Paola, who would return to their regular full-time positions at the center if Stenhouse’s appointment receives approval.
Carlos E. Lopez Estrada, Mayor Allan Fung’s chief of staff, said the situation has drawn concerns given that both Sinapi and Paola are union members and are supervising other union members. Of primary concern, he said, are situations requiring disciplinary action.
“You can imagine the discomfort and problematic situations that can cause,” he said, noting that the director’s post has been filled by the two co-directors for several years and that the matter has been an ongoing subject of discussion.
Sinapi, who addressed the committee, spoke strongly in favor of Stenhouse’s appointment. He said the union contract does create difficulties in terms of having members being responsible for the supervision and discipline of others.
Cranston Director of Administration Jerry Cordy said Stenhouse’s appointment would result in those issues being “significantly minimized” and would make the situation “more normal.”
Council members did raise some questions regarding the finances surrounding the appointment. According to Cordy, the pay differentials provided to the two current co-directors total approximately $21,000, while the salary for the full-time position will be roughly $53,000. Pro-rating the compensation, he said, means the cost would actually be approximately $36,000 through the current fiscal year. Additionally, he said, the city is awaiting word on the possible receipt of a grant from the United Way, which would further reduce costs.