When Mayor Allan Fung pledged to serve the citizens of Cranston as their mayor, apparently he meant it literally. On Jan. 17, he made a guest appearance at Woodridge Elementary School where he spoke to the students about his job as mayor and then served lunch to the students, which consisted of pizza and juice.
Fung was at Woodridge as part of the prize package "Lunch with Mayor Fung," which was won by Haley Travieso, a sixth grader, for her class. Travieso bid on the prize as part of a silent auction item at a recent BASICS event, a dance-a-thon, held earlier this year, according to Peter Kelleher, co-founder of the BASICS program.
Fung said these types of events are a favorite part of his job as mayor.
"I really enjoy spending time in the schools with all of you. I get the chance to talk with you about the things you are thinking and learning," he said.
He encouraged the students to do well in school, stating that they will use what they learn in their future careers.
"Whether it is history, reading or science, they're all really something you'll be using one day as mayor or whatever you choose to do in your career," he said. "Be sure you speak well, write well and be able to communicate with others."
After the mayor spoke to the students, he allowed a time for questions. The students asked questions like whether or not he liked waffles (the Mickey waffles in Disney are his favorite), whether he likes roller coaster rides (he does) and when music might be returning to Cranston public schools (a tough question).
"I'm happy to support BASICS," Fung said, referring to the parent advocacy group that started an after-school music program in the elementary schools when music was cut several years ago. "The way it works is the schools submit their budget to the School Committee. The superintendent sets priorities in the budget. The School Committee presents their budget to the city and I take a look at that budget and fund the things I think are necessary.”
Mayor Fung noted that some things, however, are out of his control, and explained that making difficult financial decisions is a challenge.
"I have to make cuts in a lot of different areas that impact a lot of people and I take that very, very seriously," he said. "It's not easy and it leads to a lot of sleepless nights for me. I know that at the end of every decision, someone's life is going to be affected."
The mayor cited the historic flood of 2010 as one of the most stressful times of his career in public service.
"I didn't sleep for about a week and a half. I was out there in the community with the police and fire departments making decisions, and there was a lot of stress. The decisions I had to make were right then and there, on the spot and they affected people right then and there," he said. "But, I am very proud that not a single person here lost their lives in those historic floods."
He left the students with some words of wisdom before they ate their lunch.
"Study hard, particularly history. Those that don't learn from the mistakes of the past, are doomed to repeat it," he said, quoting George Santayana.