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: St. Barnabas
RI Chair, Physicians for a National Health Program.
Spouse: Linda Ujifusa. Children: John, Katie and Jamie Ryan (PHS grads)
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. When my wife Linda Ujifusa and I decided to move to Portsmouth in 1993, the things that attracted us were the natural beauty of our town, its excellent school system and the fact that it was a great community in which to raise a family. 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 balancing keeping taxes low against 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.
Portsmouth has changed over the years, but I will work to preserve the best things about it and keep Portsmouth a place where all residents have the opportunity to live and thrive – just as my family and I have been able to do.
COVID-19 has made all of the issues that face Portsmouth more difficult, 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, road maintenance, and 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 zero-based budgeting so that every expense in every department must be justified annually. More importantly, we have finally created a rolling five year capital plan to prioritize what we spend on properties and projects and completed a comprehensive professional analysis of town properties to help ensure continuing sound fiscal management. These new initiatives will 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 supporting ordinances that create a cohesive vision for Portsmouth that addresses competing interests and ongoing problems. We must attract families and a strong workforce with our excellent schools and also help seniors age in place. We must help local businesses to succeed and also be 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 frightening changes in our economic and social landscape due to COVID-19.
I humbly ask for your support to continue serving the people of Portsmouth as your town council person.