JAMES A. SEVENEY
Address: 72 Macomber Lane, Portsmouth Age: 62
Political party: Democrat Previous terms: Portsmouth School Committee, 2000-04; Portsmouth Town Council, 2004-present, currently serving as vice president.
Profession: Retired naval officer; retired program manager and business director in the defense industry.
Education: Bachelor's degree in history, Rhode Island College 1976; master's in Computer Science, Naval Postgraduate School, 1990; certified defense program manager, Defense Acquisition University 1991; MBA (Management), Salve Regina University, 2005.
Family: Married to Valerie, 40 years; Two children: Sarah, 32, a teacher; and Matthew, 30, of the Coast Guard. I have lived in Portsmouth for 42 years.
Reason for running: I believe deeply in our country, our fundamental freedoms it offers to all citizens, and the public service we must embrace to protect those freedoms, to treat one another fairly, to help each other.
I've made a lifetime commitment to public service - over 40 years. I am running for office because I believe political leadership, like military leadership, is an essential service to “preserve and protect” our values, and our way of life. I honor, and thank, those who gave me the opportunity to serve, first the US Navy for their trust and confidence in me to help defend our nation; and to my friends and neighbors in Portsmouth who entrusted me with elected leadership of our schools, and our town. I have also served as a leader in the local defense sector, and I will bring that 18 year business experience into my public service as well. We know how important economic well-being is to our communities. I can help with that as your Senator. I know the issues, and I bring the experience it will take to resolve them. Perhaps the most important of those is integrity. Our citizens deserve nothing less. And I am committed to it. It is ingrained in me from family, military experience, and from my local political leadership too. I want nothing more than to help our communities offer a better life for our families, our children, and our shared future. With your vote, I will serve with honor.
Most important issues: Affordability to live here. Portsmouth, Bristol and Tiverton are three of the most beautiful places to live. Property here is in high demand. We offer good school systems. We are located within commuting distance of major business and cultural centers. Over the years we've seen new, high-end housing development grow.
And our own home values have increased substantially as well. People want to live here. And residential growth puts pressure on municipal operating costs, and causing an upward pressure on property taxes.
I can speak directly for Portsmouth when I say the Town Council and town staff have worked hard to keep property taxes under control. That means good management in delivering key services as well as financial management. It's not for nothing that Standard & Poor's bond rating for Portsmouth was recently increased to their highest, “AAA.” We are doing our best to grow more commercial base, that certainly helps balance the tax base and relieve some of the burden on our homeowners, but that's not a silver bullet. And no one wants to dramatically alter the character of our community either. These same comments can be made for Bristol and Tiverton as well.
These are well run, successful communities too. These same attributes which contribute to the issue in many cases also make us a “cash cow” for the state.
Our district is home to the state's defense sector, our maritime industries including yachting, boat building, and fishing, and of course our huge tourism business.
This is great for the State, and for our local businesses as well. But more of this significant revenue stream we generate has to be redirected back to us so our residents are not priced out of the neighborhoods they grew up in.
Top priorities: 1. Job growth in our local economy. We are among the first to feel the effects, and last to recover, from downturns.
Fundamental to our economic well-being is a healthy job market. It is the key to continuing growths, and is driven by strong educational systems, good infrastructure, tax policies that help businesses thrive, and focus on defense sector and small business development that generates jobs. The defense sector brings high-paying jobs. We must leverage our already strong position.
2. Transportation infrastructure and maintenance. Our roads and bridges are crumbling. There are continuing delays in RIDOT's Transportation Improvement Program projects all three District 11 communities have been waiting years to see happen. With RIDOT's recent changes to improve project management, perhaps we'll see progress. It is not trivial to institute a major organizational change at the same time you must manage significant increases in workload, and effectively utilize the funding that comes with it. After all the waiting, potential danger to the public, angst and political strife related to funding sources to do this work, we must be successful. We must demand timely and accurate project status reporting from RIDOT, as required by the law.
3. Rhode Island ranks in the top 10 for adolescent and adult substance abuse problems, and today stands as third in the nation. We have a very active substance abuse prevention coalitions working hard to deal with this problem. We as a state are not doing enough to help fight this serious problem. There is no state budget for substance abuse prevention. We simply act as a pass-through for federal funding. None of our state tax dollars are allocated to this serious issue. This is not right, and if elected, I will introduce legislation to re-institute state funding to help local communities fight this problem and help protect our youth, our future.