Ward 5 candidate Republican Danny Hall has questioned whether his opponent, Democratic candidate Ed Ladouceur, can fairly represent the city because of his involvement with the Rhode Island Builders Association, an affiliation of more than 1,000 people throughout the state.
"Mr. Ladouceur is a leader of the Rhode Island Builders Association that currently has an ongoing lawsuit against the city of Warwick," Hall, GOP chairman, said in a press release last week. "Mr. Ladouceur was part of the decision by the Builders Association to sue the city. Now that he is trying to be part of city government, is he going to withdraw that lawsuit?"
While municipalities other than Warwick are also involved in the lawsuit, Ladouceur serves as the Association’s co-chair of the legislative committee.
Hall said that the Warwick Republican City Committee recently questioned if Ladouceur will stay with the "powerful and rich Rhode Island Builders Association or with the people of Ward 5."The GOP pointed out the many roles that Ladouceur is filling, including his involvement with the Warwick Building Board of Review, and the Rhode Island Building Board of Review.
Further, wrote Hall, "the GOP also stated that Ladouceur recently advocated for legislation at the State House that would have allowed developers to delay paying taxes on development projects. The governor vetoed that bill. The GOP said that Ladouceur continues to stand by wealthy developers instead of the people of Ward 5."
In a brief phone interview Monday afternoon, Mayor Scott Avedisian said the Rhode Island Builders Association filed a lawsuit against the city at least two years ago because of a building fee schedule. The association views the fees, which typically include costs for filing applications for zone changes, permits and other issues, as too high.
Avedisian said it would be ideal to resolve the lawsuit and reach an agreement.
"Obviously, not having a lawsuit would be great, but I would assume it would be hard that if Mr. Ladouceur won [because he would] be on both sides of that issue," said Avedisian. "He would be one of the plaintiffs and one of the defendants."
In response to Hall’s release, Ladouceur said jobs and the concerns of the people of Ward 5 are his priority.
"As a small businessperson, my entire career has been focused on creating jobs for working families, [and] as a person who believes strongly in the rights of consumers, I will always proudly protect the rights and the pocketbooks of the residents of this city, even if it means taking a stand against the city itself," Ladouceur wrote in an email sent yesterday afternoon.
Ladouceur went on to write that he thinks it’s unfortunate that Hall has sunk to negative attacks in order to strengthen his campaign. If anything, he feels Hall is harming his own campaign.
"Through these attacks he has shown his inexperience and has put his lack of knowledge of how jobs are created and the importance of standing up for taxpayers center stage," Ladouceur wrote.
Ladouceur said the legislation he supported encouraged builders to embark on new home projects, hire workers and spend money with other vendors.
"Due to the inaction on this issue, we lost an enormous economic opportunity and a much-needed jobs opportunity," he writes. "My opponent evidently believes maintaining the status quo is the way to go, while I believe to create jobs and boost the economy, we must take action with meaningful policy changes."
He explained that the lawsuit aims to protect taxpayers in Warwick from being overcharged for permits for new construction or home improvement projects.
"If we prevail in this case, I am proud to say the funds collected will go directly back to the person or entity that has been unfairly overcharged while trying to make an investment in already challenging economic conditions."
He continued, "In addition, I am proud of my service to the city and the state on boards that allow me to help ensure the safety of our residents. This doesn’t represent a conflict, but instead a smart way to use people’s professional experience for free to benefit the residents of the city. If there was ever a conflict on any issue, I would immediately recuse myself."
If elected, Ladouceur said the needs of Ward 5 would be his primary concern. Issues such as finding a good solution for Rocky Point, holding the Airport Corporation to their end of the bargain and protecting the interests of local homeowners, ensuring sewers in Riverview Terrace and Highland Beach are provided, as well as improving the quality and safety of roads, are paramount to him.
My only goal is to be sure the residents of Ward 5 are treated fairly and that their concerns are brought to the City Council table with a strong voice," Ladouceur said.