Meet the 2020 candidates running for election

Thu, 10/29/2020 - 5:30pm

Election Day is almost here. Candidates running for various offices in the Town of New Shoreham have been quite busy preparing for this moment.

Reporter Rosemary Connelli spoke to each local candidate about the issues facing the town and why they chose to run for office.

The following questions below were asked of the candidates:

1. Can you provide us with a brief biographical sketch, including your age, occupation, education, and connection to Block Island?

2. What skills, knowledge and insight will you bring to the position you are running for?

3. What are the top local issues that you would like to see addressed in your upcoming term?

4. How do you plan on involving more residents in the decision-making process in our town?

5. In just two or three sentences, let us know why voters should cast their vote for you?

The interviews have been edited for clarity and length.



Two year term


1. I grew up in West Kingston, which is where I currently live. My family moved there in 1970 and we had a small farm with horses. My mother spent a lot of time on the island with her horses; this is how I started visiting. During high school, I spent two summers working at the Narragansett Hotel and The Oar. Block Island has always had a special place in my heart. When I turned 18, I enlisted in the Air Force. From active duty, I transitioned into the Rhode Island Air National Guard where I retired in 2006 with 24 years of service. I am currently the Building Official for the town of West Greenwich where I have been working for over 15 years.

2. What I would like to bring to the Senate is fiscal responsibility and far less overburdening regulations.

3. Working for municipalities for as long as I have, I have seen the needs and struggles the towns have with budgeting. One very big budgetary issue every year is the educational budget. One big thing that would ease this issue for the cities and towns that work hard on balancing their budgets would be to make state aid calculated by each student; the same amount of aid for each student no matter where they live in the state. The formula used currently is quite convoluted. 

4. I feel the more public input the better, and I am always open to discussion on any topic.

5. I hope everyone is aware that the General Assembly has been absent without leave since the beginning of the year. We, the taxpayers, spent a lot of money making the work environment safe to work in at the State House. We are destroying our economy and doing nothing about it. No matter how the legislature feels about it, they still should be at work for the taxpayers of our community and state. Lastly, I firmly believe in term limits for all politicians. These positions are not designed to retire in. Do your civic duty for two terms, and then let another step up.


1. I am honored to represent District 37, which includes Block Island and South Kingstown, in the Rhode Island Senate. My husband, Michael, and I own and operate Sosnowski Farms in South Kingstown, where we raised our four children, Ronald, Deborah, Stephen, and Michael, Jr. After graduating from Chariho High School, I attended the Ocean State Business Institute. 

2. As a farmer by trade, I understand the challenges of running a small business in Rhode Island, particularly an agricultural business, and I have worked to successfully reduce needless red tape and cut taxes so that businesses can grow here and hire Rhode Islanders. As Chairwoman of the Environment & Agriculture Committee, I successfully brought parties together to work on very complex issues and deliver results for the people of Rhode Island, such as passing legislation that led to the offshore wind farm off Block Island. As a community leader, I have been able to bring people together to solve problems, such as convincing the Rhode Island Airport Corporation to restore aviation services at the Block Island Airport, which is so vital to the island’s economy. The challenges facing our state have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. I have worked throughout the crisis to help residents and small businesses get back on their feet, and rebuilding from this crisis is my top priority.

3. Rebuilding our economy, helping to connect residents and small businesses with resources, and improving senior services are among the top priorities for me in the upcoming session, should voters honor me by sending me back to the Senate. I won Senate passage, but it is important to also secure House passage of my legislation to facilitate air traffic to Block Island from other airports in the state, particularly Westerly and Newport. More broadly, as we work to rebuild from the pandemic, I support: increased bonding for housing and infrastructure, to put Rhode Islanders to work while investing in Rhode Island’s future, as well as proposed Beach, Clean Water & Green Bonds; increasing investment in job training through $14 million increase in the Real Jobs RI program that trains workers for available jobs, and new, $45 million federally-funded Back to Work RI program; small business assistance programs to help them overcome the challenges of the pandemic; minimum staffing and nursing home safety standards; and a set of Senate initiatives to lower prescription drug prices. I oppose raising taxes as a means of balancing the state budget during difficult times.

4. I work hard to be extremely accessible to all my constituents. I encourage them to send me an email at—I check the email myself—or to call me on my cell phone at (401) 783-7704 if they have any concerns or if I can be of assistance to them in any way. I think electronic access, (Zoom, WebX, etc.), to all the legislative meetings would make legislative hearings even more available for public participation. I will work to keep that access, even after the State House reopens for in-person public participation because it can be difficult for residents of South Kingstown and especially Block Island to travel to the State House to participate.

5. I have delivered results that make it easier and less costly to run a business. I have a demonstrated track record of being able to bring people together to address the serious challenges facing our state. I’m focused on working collaboratively to rebuild our economy, schools, and health care system, while protecting the environment and passing impactful legislation to address the most challenging issue of our time, climate change.



Two year term


1. I’m 40 years old, an attorney and a part-owner of the Manisses Hotel and Restaurant. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Arizona, and a Juris Doctor degree from Rutgers Law School. 

2. I bring to my service a deep respect for the rule of law, individual rights, economics and ethical government.

3. I will continue to push for a state law requiring most state and local meetings to be streamed on the internet, as we have all successfully done since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. I also believe the town needs to seriously look at its transportation infrastructure, including potential bicycle lanes, both on town and state roads. Preserving beach access is also a critical issue that will be aided by the passage of our proposed legislation to guarantee public access along the shore. Lastly, we will continue our work to empower the Town Council to regulate ride-sharing services.

4. I have always been accessible in my role as State Representative, as have our local elected officials in their roles. In addition to the codification of streamed meetings described above, I believe we will all continue to answer our phones and respond to our neighbors.

5. I love our coastal communities and will continue to make sure we all have a voice in Providence.



Two year term


1. I first came to the island with my family for summer vacations in the 1970s. During college, I opened my shop The Scarlet Begonia, which I ran for 27 years before closing it about seven years ago. For the last 24 years, I have run our family business, Block Island Linen Rental. My husband Chris and I have raised our three amazing children on the island. I am currently on the Charter Commission, a member of the Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary, a Leo Club advisor, president of the St. Andrews Ladies Guild, and on the Mary D. Ball Committee. I have served previously on the Board of Canvassers, Library Board, Recreation Board and Charter Commission. I am also a past president of the Chamber of Commerce, past president of the B.I. Lions Club, and past president of the B.I. School Friends. I have been elected twice before as the Town Moderator.

5.I believe every resident should speak up and have their opinion heard at the Financial Town Meeting. Developing the town budget is a long process with lots of opportunity for input from the voters.



Two year term


1. I am 64 years old, and I have an Associate degree in Liberal Arts and a Bachelor’s degree with honors in Anthropology. I have been factory certified as an outboard mechanic since 1984, the owner and operator of a small non-transient marina for seasonal slips, and I am also the dock master for another marina. I run an outboard boat and motor repair facility, and I own a bike/car rental business. As far as work, I have served on the Town Council for the last 14 years and by being the First Warden, I am also entitled to perform wedding ceremonies and serve as an officer of the court as a bail commissioner. My connection is my wife Marlee — she brought me out here in the fall of 1981, and decided we needed a change of venue. We raised two fine sons and both have been involved in civic organizations over the years.

2. I hope to continue to bring to the First Warden position the skills that I gained in the 14 years at the council table. I try to come to each council meeting prepared for the issues and decisions for the agenda of the evening. As First Warden, I try to run a fair meeting with ample opportunities for input from both my fellow councilors and the public. I do try to keep the meetings moving along as much as possible. I’ve had town government experience serving on the Fire Department and Rescue Squad, Recreation Board, Harbors Committee, Tourism Council, Block Island Health Services Board, Island Light and Power Board, and served as Town and Assistant Moderator.

3. The one issue that is the most glaring is motor vehicles: mopeds, bikes, DUI issues and general safety on the roads. We need to find some sort of resolution for everyone to be safe and not so contentious on the roads; working on the final build out of the island wide broadband network – it is important for the future of the island, in terms of education, lifestyle, and year-round population; continue to develop affordable housing; develop an appropriate town facility at New Harbor for the Harbors Department and greeting services in that area. In Old Harbor, we need help to refine the role of the Visitors Center, and maintain the level of good services that the Chamber of Commerce provides; come up with a safe transition into a post Covid-19 era so that we still get the best service and keep everyone safe; continue our efforts towards the reduction of the deer herd; Update and continue maintenance of the fire apparatus for the Volunteer Fire Department — there’s a young crew involved and we should support them and make sure they have the safe equipment that is needed; and address the development of communication capabilities for public forms and meetings. We have been fairly successful in the past six months in presenting the issues in a safe public forum but we need to get it to the point to get more people involved.

4. At the council level, I think technological updates will allow virtual attendance of meetings and increase input from the public that are then made by the council and other boards. For anyone in the public who feels strongly [about getting involved] should certainly get involved with boards and commissions. I think people should take the opportunity to serve and get involved with town issues, rather than just sit at home and watch it. It’s more satisfying if they feel some involvement.

5. I think what it comes down to is people think I did a good job over the years. If people think I have done a good job, I would like them to know I would like to serve a couple more years. I have served on the council since 2006, attend about 75 meetings a year, and try to listen to all opinions and make informed decisions at the time.


1. I am 51 years old, and I’m part of the year-round workforce. I own and operate my lobster roll food truck, Southeast Light Delights, in the summer. In the winter, you’ll find me refinishing hardwood floors and painting. I graduated from URI with a major in Coastal Zone Management and a minor in Tourism Management in island systems. My connection to the island started in 1986 when I graduated high school and came out for a summer job at the Beachead. I spent my first winter in 1989 where I worked for Flavia Clark when she had all that construction done on her house on Calico Hill, house-painted in the winter and worked for the Harbors Department in the summers until 1995.

2. For the skills, knowledge and insight I would bring to the position of First Warden, I would emphatically say I have a finger on the pulse of the community at all times. The island has shaped my life and me. I’m not coming in here to do the opposite. Your First Warden needs to have that understanding of the people of the community. I’m not afraid of discussing the difficult issues we face. Some of these issues have been around a very long time because they are hard, or are difficult. Sometimes you need to walk up to “difficult” or “hard” and punch it square in the face.

3. This winter is going to be focused on opening next summer by learning from our experiences of last summer, building on those successes and learning from our mistakes. We need to start having an open and honest discussion about how the island can cope with the continual increase in tourism. When BIPCO split into two companies, BIPCO and Island Light and Power, BIPCO went off and is now providing an excellent utility to the island. ILP still exists for the sole reason to manage the town’s two-thirds share of the sale. Currently, the First and Second Warden are the shareholder representatives that are supposed to oversee that shell company of three board members, one of which is the First Warden, holding and expending town funds. This is just wrong. The whole Town Council votes on and recommends the expenditure of funds through our Financial Town Meeting process. Why is the 1.8 million dollars of the people’s money being overseen by a three-person board, two of which are not elected officials? The shareholders of that company should be the whole Town Council. Having the whole council represent taxpayer money will insure oversight and transparency.

4. We get so lost in the mundane at times. We need to sometimes just get out of our own way and just “do.” We work for the people, and people have ideas and passions. Listening with a caring ear to residents’ issues and ideas is also how to get more people involved, but people feel disconnected to town government right now. The Zoom meetings have helped enormously with bringing people into the decision making process, or at least tune in. I have always advocated for recorded Town Council meetings.

5. Since I was elected in 2016, I have spent a great deal of time cultivating relationships with our upstate and congressional delegations. We cannot govern effectively for the people if we don’t rebuild and maintain those important relationships. You need someone who is active at the State House to represent you, and when I’m elected, you will finally have that voice again.



Two year term


1. I am 61 years old, and I graduated from Brown University in 1981, and then received my MBA from Wharton in 1988. I have been coming to B.I. since I was a child and I worked around the island up through college, and then pursued a career around the country. Laura and I moved to Block Island full time over 10 years ago and, in addition to starting and running North Light Fibers with Laura, I was vice-chair of the Planning Board; a member of the Tourism Council; a member of the Shoreline Access Working Group; am treasurer (formerly President) of the CGSP; and a member of the Lions Club. I joined the Town Council in January 2018 as I volunteered to complete Norris Pike’s term and was elected to the Town Council in November 2018.

2. I am a very analytical person and I like to get into the data and facts, and I am somebody who will work through all the data and come up with an idea and push that idea forward and modify it. I’m always available for flexible decision-making. I think my background in business, committees, and different working groups has served me well to listen and help make B.I. the place we want to live.

3. If I think about my role as Second Warden, I think there are two roles: One, is to be a great Second Warden, which entails supporting the First Warden and council. I think there are some things that I can do to help the First Warden, such as increasing access and inclusion of the council and committee meetings through virtual formats and videos. I will develop a process for following up on key topics in a timely manner and bring them back to the table. I think we are at a critical time as far as development goes, but how we coordinate and communicate with the boards is crucial. As far as projects and work: I want to help get broadband executed island wide; make sure B.I. is a safe and healthy community with traffic, mopeds, and Covid-19; development is sustainable; develop and plan for, and reduce congestion in Old Harbor and New Harbor; housing is critical for me, both affordable rental and owned housing; develop and implement a plan for long-term senior care; work with the Medical Center for mental and addiction programs; regarding government, I want to make sure that the Town Council and government is open and accessible; and lastly, increasing programs to improve revenue.

4. I think we need to be more open and accessible – have quarterly open meetings, potentially during the day and at night. Most of our meetings are at night, and we need to figure out a way to get meetings earlier. I think we will start implementing those as an open forum.

5. I really want to have people vote for me because they think I would be a good person to lead. I will support the First Warden and the council to make sure we have an effective and efficient process, documentation and follow through. Right now, we need to plan for the future and I believe that I’m a good person to help lead the planning for B.I. in the next 10 to 20 years.



Two year term


1.I graduated from the B.I. High school in 1969. I currently work for the Malcolm Greenaway gallery in the summer, I do freelance work for The Block Island Times, and I have a cab. I basically do bits and pieces here and there. After graduation from high school, I went to Drew University and majored in History. I came back to the island and I didn’t think I would stay, but I became involved with the town and my mother fell sick and so I stayed here.

2. I have a lot of past experience with various boards and committees. I worked for the Sewer Commission when they were building the sewer, the Zoning Board for 12 years, and I was a treasurer in the 1980s. I have a lot of historical background of knowing when things happened, and why they happened. I feel that I do have an adept set of knowledge of the operations in this community. I grew up in a house where we talked about history and past events.

3. First, we have to move this community through the last phase of Covid-19 — that overrides everything, and we cannot ignore it; land use is always a problem and I feel we are back to where we were 30 years ago; discussion on the use of water supply for the island – commercial places are looking at bigger use and the houses that are being built out here; and development and management of resources. We are unique, and we have been more connected this year to the state with conversations on Covid19, but it also became quite apparent that there is a huge divide between perception and reality.

4. One of the positive things that came from Covid-19 was posting announcements and meetings on social media. I think having people be able to see and hear what happens, we have accomplished far more. I think people are daunted in a way that they didn’t used to be. I think people are overwhelmed, and you need a leader that is going to involve people, and you need a few key people. We had a shift with a younger group, but that is what we really need now.

5. Because someone at the table has to have the historical perspective. I think I’m practical, and I’m better at sifting through the help and ideas that come from the table, and look at which pieces will work and will not work.


1. I was born in Hartford, Conn. in 1962 and grew up there, and Susan and I raised our family in Connecticut and on Block Island. Soon after I graduated from college, I founded a lobbying firm in Connecticut and our business grew to become one of the largest in the state. We purchased our house here almost 20 years ago. We made the island our permanent home a few years ago, as I moved towards retirement. Our bond with this island is deep and unshakeable. I have been on the Zoning Board for three years and serve as Chair of Charter Review.

2. I’ve been around government my entire career and have a good understanding of how government works. I have a passion for working with people to solve problems. Most importantly, I do the work, I’m well prepared, and I’ll make decisions and act.

3. I want to do everything I can to enhance the quality of life for the people who live here, and that runs the gamut from helping families to settle here by supporting affordable housing and making strategic investments in education, to making the necessary investments in services and infrastructure to enable our older citizens to live comfortably and safely on the island. I will prioritize public health and safety — we have to do the things necessary to keep our community safe during Covid-19; act boldly and aggressively on our obvious public safety issues with traffic congestion, mopeds and the overtaxing of our natural resources; provide sufficient support to our volunteer Fire and Rescue Departments as well as to our Medical Center, whose new leadership is so clearly committed to serving an active and comprehensive role in our health care delivery on the island. I will work on developing a robust system for public access to town government by expanding the town’s use of social media to keep the community up to date, pushing harder for a far more modern and comprehensive town website that enables the transaction of business online, and working on streaming and recording town meetings.

4. First of all, we should recognize that we have an incredible number of good people in our community who volunteer for town boards and committees, fire and rescue, and our non-profit sector. However, ensuring that level of engagement continues among younger residents is absolutely essential, and is one of the reasons the Charter Review Committee focused so much time and effort on changes designed to get information out to the community via a much broader base of media, broadcast/streaming and print. I think we need to engage, we need to listen, we need to recruit, we need to mentor, and we need, frankly, to continue to ask people to serve. We are seeing encouraging engagement and activism among young people through marches and protests about the racism and inequality endemic in our culture. One of my many hopes for this movement is that younger people will understand that an essential part of bringing about change is to engage in protest, engage in electoral campaigns, and also to become involved in doing the practical work of government.

5. My hope is that people will view me as someone who will get up every day and do the job in good faith, do the work necessary to be prepared, listen to what the community is saying, and be ready to make decisions and act on them. If that’s what people want, I’d be honored to serve.


1. I have lived on Block Island for 29 years, and I am originally from Newport, R.I. I went to college at URI and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Wildlife Biology and Management. I first moved to the island in 1991 to work. I’m 50 years old, married, and have three children, with my youngest enrolled in the Block Island School. Jessica Willi is my wife, who’s running for her second term on the School Committee, is also the Tourism Director. I’ve served on the Town Council for four years (two terms) and School Committee for four years. The other boards and committees I’ve served on are the LCAS, Charter Review, and the Recreation Board. I was the Town Council liaison for the Town Manager search committees. The town also employed me for 17 years with the Recreation Department, Harbors Department, and the Athletic Department at the school. I am self-employed and own two businesses: Block Island Fishworks and Capt. Nick’s. 

2. I think my collective 29 years living and working on Block Island, as well as four years on the Town Council, provide the skills needed.

3. Addressing traffic on the island, and congestion in Old and New Harbor; vehicular, moped, bike, and pedestrian safety; infrastructure maintenance and expansion as our community grows; and moving BI forward in a responsible and sustainable way, while looking at short and long term issues.

4. Technology will do this. The Zoom video meeting platform has expanded our audience more than ever. I think the availability of reliable technology and Internet service will greatly enhance resident participation. The Town needs to do its job in providing the availability for residents to participate via technology.

5. I believe I have the experience needed for the position and am willing to put the time and effort into the issues that Block Island faces in the coming years.


1. I am 65 years old, and I came to Block Island on a dare in the late 1970s after graduating from Montclair State College in New Jersey. Like most islanders, I have held a variety of jobs since arrival. From food service to construction, to school teaching, to my most recent retirement as a plumber’s assistant for the past 30 years.

2. During my four plus decades on Block Island, I have served on almost every board: from the Housing Board to the Zoning Board. I am most proud of my almost 20 years with the Volunteer Fire Department as an EMT.

3. The top issues I would like to see addressed include moped, bike and pedestrian safety issues, including education and enforcement; good affordable housing with stewardship; deer eradication; bike and pedestrian lanes; and appoint a police commission or advisory board.

4. I plan to involve residents in the decision-making process by asking people to stop complaining about local issues. Stop listening to misinformation and gossip, do your homework, and get involved. The council’s job is to listen to the informed input, and act. Sadly, too many past Town Councils have been timid if not cowardly to do their job. Not me.

5. Thirty years ago, I was a member of a very dynamic and productive Town Council. Four years ago, I was a member of a very poor and underachieving Town Council. The difference was leadership and teamwork; I strongly believe if you vote for Keith Stover, Andre Boudreau, and me, that you will see that teamwork, leadership and production again.



Two year term


1. I am 56 years old, a lineman for the power company, and I have a couple years of college experience but I don’t have a degree. I started working on the island back in the early 1980s in the summer as a teenager. My understanding of the job and of the island helps make me the right person for the job.



Six year term


1. I am 64 years old, and I have been living on Block Island since 1974. I summered on the island my whole life until I moved there. I am a plumber’s assistant, and I hold a high school level education. There is nobody else running for the position, and this will be my fifth term and last term. I have been doing it for 24 years, and I try to provide an honest service.



Four year term


1. I am 54 years old, and I am originally from South Jersey, born in North Carolina. My family moved to the island when I was 11. I am a sales agent for Lila Delman Real Estate. I graduated from URI and met my husband Callum Crawford on Block Island. The island is the place I have lived the longest and was always drawn back to the island. I now have two girls that have graduated from the Block Island School, and another who is a junior. It is an amazing place to raise your children, and I believe they have benefitted from the community and the sheer uniqueness the island offers. 

5. It is my hope that once we reach our 50 percent conservation mark, we can then start focusing on how we can improve what has been conserved for the future generations.


1. I am 50 years old, and the owner and operator of Pond and Beyond, which opened in 2008. I graduated from the Block Island School in 1984, and graduated from the College of Wooster in 1990. I interned with The Nature Conservancy on Block Island in the late 90s, served as a research assistant at URI, and also served as a refuge manager, piping plover bio-tech, and education and outreach for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on B.I. I have served on the Committee for the Great Salt Pond for many years, the Block Island Conservancy, the Conservation Commission and the Block Island Early Learning Center.

5. I moved to South Kingstown with my kids in 2010 for the school year. I am back living on the island pretty much full time and want to return to giving back to the island. Though it will be different than my past experiences, the mission of the Land Trust is aligned with my overall passion for conservation. 



Four year term


1. I am a retired architect, and I have a degree in Fine Arts for Watercolor Painting and one in Architecture. I came out to visit a friend over 40 years ago and we bought a house over 30 years ago as a summer home, where I have retired.

5. I have been on the board for quite a few years now, and just completed on a collaborative effort for the Cherry Hill Lane project. I think we did a good job, and I would like to continue on the next project we have coming up.



Four year term


1. I am 45 years old, and I am the Executive Director of the Tourism Council. I graduated with a BF from the University of Colorado Boulder, and I have lived on the island year round for 20 years. I am married and I have two kids in the BI School.

2. I have been on the School Committee for the last four years; I know how it works and what is happening in the school at this time. I grew up with both my parents who are teachers, in a school-based household. I’ve sat on multiple boards and commissions on Block Island, and I have an understanding on how meetings and rules of order work.

3. On the school’s behalf, I would say there are and have been budget-issues. We are trying to put a plan forward in the future, as far as funding for the school. The other one would be communication issues between the staff, students, parents, teachers, and school committee.

4. Being a parent of two students in the school and sitting on the board, a lot of people have already and will continue to ask questions about what is going on. We need to continue helping them get involved if they have a concern. It’s important to make yourself available, and being available to people who have issues and want to have a conversation. Communication is key.

5. I would say I am committed to the future of the school, committed to the future of Block Island, and I have a good record of showing up for meetings and being available.


1. I am 55 years old, involved in hospitality and a manager. I studied at Dominican College for Health Services. My family vacationed out here about 50 years ago. I moved out here in my early 20s and have lived here full time ever since.

2. First and foremost, I’m a mother. I care deeply about our school community and our children’s education. This position allows me to work with others to do what is best for our students and staff.

3. The top local issues I would like to see addressed are maintaining high quality education, extra-curricular programs and athletics for our students to have well rounded experiences; and healthier food options.

4. I encourage residents to join in on our meetings - everyone’s opinions matter.

5. I have the best interest of this community at heart. I want our school to be the best it can be, for all learners and educators, so that we can strive for excellence together.

A complete interview with School Committee write-in candidate Patricia Doyle can be found here: pat-doyle-write-candidate-school-committee/58149