PowerPlayer: Providence Councilman David Salvatore
Monday, January 16, 2012
This week’s PowerPlayer is Providence Councilman David Salvatore. The first-term Councilman kind enough to chat with GoLocalProv about his first year in office and offer his vision for the future of the city.
1) You joined the Council just as the city's fiscal hurricane was setting in. Tell us about the most difficult decisions you have had to make since last year.
As Rhode Island struggles with the worst local economy in generations, Providence continues to grapple with a challenging budget. As a member of the Finance Committee, last year's budget deliberations were especially difficult as the city faced a $110 million structural deficit. Through the hard work and diligence of the Finance Committee and the Administration, we were able to pass a budget without any one time fixes. Across-the-board cuts in union and non-union personnel line items reinforced the importance of shared sacrifice.
Asking people in a struggling economy for more money is always the hardest decision a public official has to make. It is not politically popular. The constituents that I speak to appreciate these hard decisions when they have access to their public officials who can explain "how" the city is going to weather this fiscal storm but more importantly explain "why" certain measures are taken. One day in a non election year I would like to tell my neighbors that we are not going to raise taxes. We're not there yet, but I know we can one day.
Our education system in Providence must be closely monitored. As a product of the public school system, supporting alternative education has been difficult, however, school choice is in the best interest of our children and their families. I have a responsibility to promote meaningful change and generate real excitement around educational opportunity in our city.
2) You're considered the pension expert on the Council. How does Providence solve its pension crisis?
I don't consider myself a pension expert. Experts are the people who will be providing the Council with the best options in addressing our pension opportunities in Providence. I have been working closely with the Administration and Council Fiscal Advisor Gary Sasse on this important issue, and I look forward to carrying out meaningful pension reform. Bottom line - we need all stakeholders to come to the table and present real solutions for a bleeding pension system that will run out of money if systemic changes are not carried out. Employees, retirees, the people of Providence, business owners, and anyone who loves our City should follow this issue closely. As the chairman of the Pension Sustainability Subcommittee, I am committed to seeing these reforms through - thoughtfully, equitably and with urgency.
3) Take us through a day in your life.
As a first term Councilman, I have adjusted to the demanding schedule that comes with the job. My day starts at 5:00 AM with a 4-5 mile run and then it's off to La Salle Bakery for coffee where I respond to constituent emails and get caught up on local news using my iPhone/iPad. My full-time job is in the General Treasurer's Office where I have been employed for the last five years. Most evenings, I have meetings in City Hall and/or community events starting at 5:00 PM. I try to end my day by reading and falling asleep by 10:00 PM, so that I can do it all again the next day.
I love representing the community where I was born and raised. I often think about all the people who have built their lives in my neighborhood. Growing up as their paperboy, neighbors guided me in doing the "right thing" and I am proud that they gave me an opportunity to be their voice on the Council. When I ask them for feedback, many of them express their desire for safer neighborhoods, improved quality of life and better schools. We can achieve all of these things by starting with comprehensive pension reform.
I will be channeling a lot of my energy towards this important issue. Speaking of quality of life - a revitalization plan is in the works for the Wanskuck Neighborhood. With the help of the community and neighborhood organizations, there are goals in place to create affordable housing and utilize green space for recreational purposes at Corliss Park. Finally, job creation will play a major role in our ability to attract new businesses to Providence. I look forward to working with the Administration and Economic Development Director Jim Bennett in moving our local economy forward.
5) Tell us something nobody knows about.
I have an addiction to cheeseburgers from the Abbey in Elmhurst and Haven Brothers.
Role Model: Mom & Dad
Favorite Restaurant: Joe Marzilli's Old Canteen Italian Restaurant, Federal Hill
Best Beach: Narragansett Town Beach
Best Book You've Read in the Last Year: The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America
Advice for the Next David Salvatore: Always use your inner strength, reach for the stars and your dreams will become reality.
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