Ward 5 council candidates Danny Hall, 30, and Ed Ladouceur, 60, are both enjoying campaign season, especially their walks of the ward. They say they’ve met many individuals and families whose lives they intend to improve if elected Nov. 6.
Hall, a Republican who works as a corrections officer at the ACI and also serves as the chair of the Republican City Committee, has walked the ward once and has recently begun a second round.
“I may not finish it twice, but the second time around people are more responsive and a little more willing to engage,” said Hall. “My name’s out there quite a bit now and people know what I stand for and what I’m about. I think people are looking to shake things up this year.”
Ladouceur, a Democrat who owns and operates StormTite Home Improvement on Warwick Avenue, has been walking the ward almost every day since the third week of July. He said he has visited nearly every home and still plans to knock on doors during the coming weeks. The constituents he has chatted with have all been supportive, he said.
The two are looking to succeed John DelGiudice, who served for eight years and has chosen not to seek re-election. This is Hall’s second attempt for the seat, while it’s Ladouceur’s first, although he’s previously been a candidate for state representative.
“When I’m walking down the street, people are driving by, sticking their hands out the window and waiving or giving me a thumbs up,” Ladouceur said. “The conversations I’ve been having with so many different people have been really exciting. We’re talking about what’s going on in their lives.”
The top issues they both plan to tackle if elected include sewers, T.F. Green Airport, Rocky Point, and other concerns like public safety, abandoned properties, plus the ability to remain accessible and accountable.
In terms of sewers, Hall said that while he’d like to see them installed throughout the ward, he doesn’t think anyone should be forced to connect.
“It’s hard enough to afford them as it is, so to make someone on a fixed income tie in to the sewers when they can’t afford to would be wrong,” he said. “If you’ve got some sort of a septic system that’s working perfectly and there’s nothing wrong with it, I don’t see a need to tie in. Those people should be exempt. For the most part, a majority of people want sewers, but there are a few that can’t afford them and they just replaced their septic system a few years ago.”
Ladouceur’s opinion is similar. He said the people of Riverview Terrace and Highland Beach have issues with respect to not having sewers and it’s “through no fault of their own.”
“The situation is so difficult because these folks have cesspools that are failing,” he said. “I’ve talked to one lady who has to pump her cesspool once a month and it costs her $130 each time.”
He said he’s been hearing stories from people who are concerned that if their cesspools do fail, they are going to have to put in leach fields.
“In those neighborhoods, you have a fair amount of undersized lots, which means they have to put these leaching systems above ground,” said Ladouceur. “They are extremely expensive and folks who are struggling day-to-day tell me that they can’t afford to do the system. Sewers have to be brought to these folks and if they have no alternative but to put in those very expansive above ground tanks. That’s not right. We need to figure out how to get sewers to those folks who live in Riverview Terrace and Highland Beach. There’s got to be a way and I want to find that way.”
As far as T.F. Green Airport is concerned, Hall said while some folks aren’t thrilled about runway expansion, they are starting to accept the fact that it’s going to happen anyway. Despite the loss of tax revenue through the demolition of homes near Winslow Field, he ultimately views it as “a plus” for the economy.
“It’s bringing in tax revenue with Jefferson Boulevard being developed, [as well as] Iron Works, the restaurants, [and] commercial buildings,” he said.
However, he said he intends to make sure everyone is treated fairly through the process. He’s compassionate to people who don’t want to leave their homes.
“The airport is going to come through, but it’s still a tough situation with people who didn’t want to move,” said Hall. “Knowing it’s going to be here soon, we may as well accept it and try to come up with the best solutions to better Warwick and the state of Rhode Island.”
For Ladouceur, his main goal in relation to the airport is to make sure that the deal is followed through in a timely fashion and that T.F. Green is a “good” and “friendly” neighbor to the rest of the community.” Homeowners, he said, shouldn’t be kept waiting.
“The people that live there have a right to expect a very swift and orderly transition,” he said. “They have a right to have their lives whole and complete and not live day-to-day wondering what’s going to happen and how it’s going to happen. The time has come to make it happen. I would love to meet with the members of the Airport Corporation so I could work with them and hear from them firsthand going forward.”
And while both candidates are thrilled about the recent acquisition of more land at Rocky Point, they have a few concerns.
Ladouceur wants to ensure that the open space is affordable and sustainable.
“How is it going to be developed?” he said. “I also have a significant concern with how the open space will be policed, literally, by the police. Is it going to be our police officers that will do that policing or will it be the state police? If it’s our police officers that are going to be expected to, how is the city of Warwick going to be compensated for it? How is the police department going to be staffed to take on the responsibility?”
Additionally, he’s curious as to how the open space will be cared for in terms of keeping it clean and safe. He also would like to know how the walking trails will remain safe for people who use it and live around it.
“I think there’s still a fair amount of work to do before anything happens at Rocky Point,” he said.
Hall has different thoughts about the former amusement park.
“I’m extremely happy about it,” he said. “It’s right in my backyard. I still would like to see a majority of it remain as open space – that was the whole goal. I’d like to see a chowder shack that’s open on the weekend – nothing too extreme, but something that will be easy to maintain. I wouldn’t want to see commercial buildings in there or restaurants or anything like that.”
Aside from those issues, Ladouceur said he plans to focus on improving public safety. The condition of certain roads “alarm” him, as children aren’t able to ride their bikes in their neighborhoods.
Further, during a particular walk of the ward, he met a mother and daughter, both of whom are in wheelchairs yet are “extremely active and self-sufficient,” who explained their difficulties with crumbling streets.
“The mom hit a pothole or a rut in the road and fell out of her wheelchair,” he said. “It’s a very big problem and those are the things I want to fight for.”
Another issue he’d like to work on is abandoned properties. Abandoned properties, he said, pose several unique problems, including the potential to put police and firefighters at risk, as there is a potential for mishaps, such as an electrical wire starting a fire or other hazards.
“They are trained to do this type of thing, but it makes no sense to put them in harm’s way when there’s a better way to do it,” he said. “The real problem is, how do we stop the homes from being abandoned in the first place?”
Creating jobs is also at the top of his list. He has noticed several vacant businesses in the city and would like to focus on changing that.
“If I win this election, I’m going into the City Council with a very pro-business attitude,” Ladouceur said. “I realize that in order to create jobs you need to create businesses. In order to fill those empty offices, we need to reduce some of those regulations we have and have a more streamlined permit process. We need to have a much more business-friendly environment and until you do those things, you’re not going to be able to increase jobs.”
As a business owner, Ladouceur said he knows what it takes to run a successful business. This, he said, is something that will help him help others if elected.
“I want that opportunity to work with the other members of the City Conical to make Warwick a better place than it already is and help the folks in the city,” he said.
Of course, Hall has the same objective. For him, remaining accountable and accessible is key.
“I think being accessible is the biggest thing,” Hall said. “People want to know that they are being heard and represented. Being accessible is answering your phone, answering your emails, [and] not letting other council members do the work for you. Being accountable is standing behind your decisions as a council member and not trying to bend the issues or twist the issues around.”
As an example, Hall said that while he was walking the ward in the Church Avenue area, he met a gentleman who informed him of a house across the street in which his grandmother lives. He told Hall that he was having trouble getting her into an elderly housing program. Wanting to help, Hall has been looking into doing just that.
“Within two days, I called him back and he said, ‘I didn’t think you were going to call me back,’ and I said, ‘I’m here to help,’” Hall said. “Knowing you can help people out makes me feel good.”
Also, he said he thinks he’d make a great councilman because he’s willing to be there for the people of the ward who are financially struggling. As a member of the middle class, he said he is able to relate to many people in the city.
“We can’t continue to elect extremely wealthy politicians that don’t live in the neighborhood – you need to elect people to represent the middle class that are the middle class and I am the middle class,” said Hall. “I struggle to get by every day just like everybody else, so I know exactly what everybody’s going through. My grandparents are on a fixed income, so when you get an increased bill or tax, that has a major impact on their life. We need people there that will listen and answer their phone and their email and be accountable to the people of the ward.”
Both Hall and Ladouceur are married – Hall has been married to his wife Tiffany for two years, while Ladouceur and his wife Deborah have been married for 40 years. They each said their families have been supportive throughout their campaigns.
In the coming weeks, they each intend to continue their walks of the ward.