Town Council
Linda Ujifusa
  • 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

Since being elected to the Town Council in 2016, I have been fortunate to work with an amazing town staff, fellow elected officials and volunteers to undertake new initiatives that have significantly improved how we manage our town and budgets and increased transparency.  I would like to continue this work to benefit my community.

 

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 justify all funding requests annually

  • 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 providing 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

 

Although COVID-19 has presented a myriad of ever-changing problems and requirements, staff has managed to handle these challenges while always focusing on helping our most vulnerable citizens – everything from establishing new procedures for operating town properties to organizing and running a food bank to helping local businesses.  I strongly urge everyone to educate themselves by reading the COVID-19 Situation Reports produced by our Town Administrator at www.portsmouthri.com.  Clearly, we have hired and retained excellent town staff.  

Goals

Given the enormous disruptions and stresses caused by COVID-19, the town must act to maintain the health, safety, and general well-being of our community.  A pandemic is not the time to defund our police, fire, DPW, teachers, and other town staff managing this crisis as well as ongoing pre-pandemic work.  Nor is it the time to exacerbate existing problems such as deferred maintenance of public infrastructure.  We must, therefore, continue to pass budgets that keep taxes as low as possible while simultaneously protecting our great schools, public services, infrastructure and properties. 

 

In the upcoming year, I believe our major priorities should include:

  • protecting our public schools

  • improving road safety and creating and implementing a green and complete streets ordinance

  • improving climate change preparedness and resiliency, especially for our most vulnerable areas (i.e., Island Park, Common Fence Point)

  • dealing with town-owned properties suffering from severe deferred maintenance (i.e., the former Coggeshall School and Hutchinson School) within the scope of an open space and recreation master plan

  • creating and implementing an improved solid waste management program

  • improving the Town's management of online services

  • passing an updated Comprehensive Plan and enacting ordinances in support of it and the updated Charter

 

Even before COVID-19, there were significant challenges facing the town, including: decreasing aid from the state (especially for our schools), making up for artificially low past taxes created by deferring maintenance of town properties, ever-increasing costs (e.g., for waste disposal), past bookkeeping errors, and an $800,000 "Heidi Drive" litigation settlement resulting from a prior council's decision to act against advice of their lawyer.   I will make sure the town continues to work to overcome and avoid these problems.

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