Town Council
J. Mark Ryan
  • Portsmouth Town Council member since 2016

  • Aquidneck Island resident: 47 years

  • Primary care physician since 1984

  • Clinical Asst. Professor of Medicine Brown U.

  • Harvard, BA and Brown, MD

  • Parishioner and former CCD teacher at St. Barnabas Church

  • RI Chair, Physicians for a National Health Program

  • Spouse: Linda Ujifusa. Children: John, Katie and Jamie Ryan (PHS grads)

  • Contact: jryan@portsmouthri.com  (401) 472-4110

  • Watch video interview 

Why I'm Running

I have been a primary care physician since 1984 and have lived on Aquidneck Island most of my life.  Over time, I have seen the island change significantly.  I am very grateful that our 3 children, John, Katie and Jamie, were able to grow up in such idyllic surroundings, find such good friends, and receive a great education in our public schools.  Since they moved away from home, I have had more time to become involved in town affairs and I want to try to help others share our Portsmouth experiences. 

 

Being on the Town Council since November 2016 has made me much more knowledgeable about how the town is run and the challenges facing it.  I want to use what I have learned to help the town continue to deal with its challenges and keep the Portsmouth we all love a vibrant community.  In order to do that, we need a town council that will balance the need to keep taxes low while supporting Portsmouth’s public schools, protecting its natural resources, maintaining its infrastructure and properties, adequately funding essential services, and making sure that our Comprehensive Plan, Hazard Mitigation Plan, Town Charter and town ordinances are properly updated. 

Some of the tasks accomplished during my tenure include:

  • undertaking a complete and professional analysis of all our town properties

  • creating rolling 5-year capital improvement plans

  • improving Town financial reporting - resulting in multiple accolades 

  • implementing zero-based budgeting that requires all departments to start with a zero budget and annually justify all funding requests

  • adopting a Hazard Mitigation Plan that addresses how to prepare for and respond to natural disasters

  • appointing a Charter Review Committee and putting proposed changes on the Nov. 2020 ballot

  • holding an annual public meeting to determine the Town Administrator’s priorities

  • working with the state to undertake a safety audit of East Main Road and implementing more aggressive speed control measures

  • hiring an outstanding Emergency Management Agency Director and winning a $339,000 grant from the RI Infrastructure Bank for required climate change resiliency work – e.g., flooding at an egress from Common Fence Point

  • hiring a full-time Parks & Recreation Director and expanding program offerings

  • fostering a local agricultural business (a brewery)

  • partnering with community groups that provide essential services to all residents, including the library and senior center

  • regulating short-term rentals

  • working with the School Committee and staff to facilitate school safety and capital improvements

 

Portsmouth has changed over the years and doubtless will continue to change, but I will work to preserve the best things about it and ensure that Portsmouth remains place where all residents have the opportunity to live and thrive – just as my family and I have been able to do.

Important Issues

COVID-19 has made more difficult all of the issues that face Portsmouth, including protecting our schools, keeping taxes low, maintaining properties and infrastructure, and developing a vision for the town that balances competing interests.

 

Because of fiscally prudent policies instituted since I was elected, we have been able to support our schools, maintain our roads, and make capital improvements, while at the same time keeping Portsmouth in the bottom 1/3 of tax rates for towns that have school systems.  We have instituted new initiatives to keep the budgeting process more transparent and focused, and discourage approval of ad hoc, unjustified expenditures.  Moreover, while COVID-19 has crippled other towns from even passing FY 2020-21 budgets, Portsmouth has kept on schedule, reduced our budget with surpluses, and created an emergency COVID-19 contingency fund. 

 

Going forward, the next Town Council must continue to deal with the challenges presented by COVID-19, as well as approve a Comprehensive Plan and support ordinances that create a cohesive vision for Portsmouth that addresses competing interests and ongoing problems.  We must attract families and a strong workforce, and help seniors age in place.  We must help local businesses to succeed while being respectful of residential abutters. We must keep our beaches accessible, safe and clean.  We must deal with solid waste disposal as prices rise and landfills reach capacity.  We must continue to conserve farms and open space and also prepare for and respond to serious environmental challenges such as storm water run-off and sea level rise - all while confronting significant economic and social challenges due to COVID-19.  

I again ask for your support to continue serving the people of Portsmouth as a member of the Portsmouth Town Council.

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