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J. MARK RYAN

Address: 155 Adams Drive Age: 58

Political party: Democrat

Previous terms: n/a Profession: Primary care physician (internist).

Education: Harvard College, BA; Brown University, MD

Family: I have lived in Portsmouth for 23 years and on Aquidneck Island for 45 years. Married to Linda Ujifusa since 1985. Children: John, Katie and Jamie Ryan (PHS graduates).

Reason for running: My family moved to Aquidneck Island in 1968 and I always believed it is important to contribute to my community. I'm a primary care physician specializing in internal medicine and a few years ago became chair of the Rhode Island Chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, advocating universal single-payer health care. I have also volunteered locally, teaching CCD at St. Barnabas Church and helping coach summer PYSA soccer. Until this year, I never thought of running for office.

However, this election season has made it clear that honest, principled citizens not only should run for office, they must run for office.

Most important issues: The most important issue facing my constituents is whether elected officials will make decisions based on a thorough understanding of relevant facts and policy goals. Politicians are often pressured to make decisions that will make their own lives easier or allow them to take the path of least resistance. It is imperative that our elected officials make evidence-based decisions to ensure that Portsmouth and its citizens continue to thrive.

Top priorities: My first priority would be to protect the quality of life in Portsmouth. At a minimum, I will make sure that our town has the proper staff and resources to deal with public health and safety issues. We need clean water, safe roads, effective first responders, etc. In addition, I will work to protect our local small businesses, open spaces, farms and recreation areas and, of course, our outstanding public schools, because all these are essential to keeping Portsmouth a great community.

My second priority would be to protect the financial health of our town and its citizens. Under Democratic leadership, Portsmouth secured a AAA-bond rating from Standard & Poor's (one of three towns in the state) and has a tax rate in the bottom third of all state municipalities. I hope to build on this success by advocating that we manage Portsmouth properties and facilities in ways that maximize benefits to the town, as we did with Melville Campgrounds; avoid unnecessary lawsuits, such as the million dollar lawsuit caused by giving away a paper road; promote the most cost-effective options when dealing with town properties, such as building a new police station; work with state agencies, such as the state Department of Environmental Management, to avoid penalties and alleviate environmental problems; and review and implement innovative strategies used successfully by other comparable towns to encourage smart financial growth.

My third priority would be to make sure that all the decisions of the Town Council are based on a careful analysis of relevant facts and policy goals that benefit the people of our community.

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