Portsmouth Town Council member since 2016.
Portsmouth resident since 1993
Harvard, BA and NYU, JD.
Former U.S. EPA and private sector attorney
Founder & Co-chair, RI Healthcare Access & Affordability Partnership.
Past Board Chair, Aquidneck Land Trust
Former volunteer: Portsmouth public schools and Open Space Committee.
Spouse: J. Mark Ryan; children: John, Katie and Jamie Ryan (PHS grads).
Why I'm Running
I was a private and public sector lawyer prior to moving to Portsmouth with my husband, J. Mark Ryan, in 1993. We raised our three children here and I became an active Portsmouth school and town volunteer, and Board Chair of the Aquidneck Land Trust. Two years ago, I wanted to get more involved in town governance and began canvassing Portsmouth to get to know our neighborhoods and talk to potential constituents. Young parents, retired seniors, small business owners, government employees, caretakers of the elderly or ill, and many others shared with me their concerns, suggestions and wisdom. I wanted to make sure that their voices are represented in our town government.
In November 2016, I was fortunate enough to be elected to the Portsmouth Town Council and I was blessed with the opportunity to work closely with an amazing town staff, fellow elected officials and community volunteers. During my term, we initiated new practices that have made our budgets more sustainable and transparent, including undertaking a complete and professional analysis of all our town properties, creating rolling 5-year capital improvement plans, and implementing zero-based budgeting that requires all departments to start with a zero budget and justify all funding requests annually. We have also taken actions to allow the town to better deal with solid waste management, to expedite school safety improvements, regulate short-term rentals, study shoreline access issues, protect our farmers, and plan for hazard mitigation.
I am running to ensure that Portsmouth government hears all constituent voices and works to serve the best interests of our community. I ask voters to allow me to serve a second term. Thank you.
Constituents have told me that the issues most important to them are to keep Portsmouth taxes low, support excellent public schools, and maintain Portsmouth’s quality of life. I have seen firsthand, major threats to achieving these goals. Some problems are ongoing, such as decreasing aid from the state government (especially for our schools), the need to make up for deferred maintenance of town properties, and ever-increasing costs (e.g., for waste disposal). Other problems were unfortunate past events, such as bookkeeping errors and an $800,000 litigation settlement.
Since I took office, Portsmouth government has worked to address and prevent these problems. We have passed budgets that have kept taxes as low as possible (putting us in the lowest ¼ of all Rhode Island towns offering similar services). Simultaneously, our budgets have protected our great schools and kept Portsmouth’s infrastructure, properties and services well-maintained. In addition, we have increased transparency and won awards for excellent financial reporting.
In the next two years, the Town Council will continue to face difficult economic and policy issues. To guide their efforts, the next Town Council will have to: 1) adopt a Comprehensive Plan that creates a long-term vision, 2) adopt a Hazard Mitigation Plan that addresses how to prepare for and respond to potential natural disasters, including those caused by climate change and sea level rise, 3) appoint a Charter Review Commission, and 4) approve amendments to the Charter and town ordinances, as needed.
These important tasks will require town council members to review all relevant facts and options, weigh all the pros and cons of those options, and choose policies with the most upside and least downside for the community.