Nicholas Lima got his first taste of politics in Tiverton, and he’s hungry for more, taking on 14-year public service veteran Paul Archetto for the Ward 3 City Council seat.
Running as a Republican, the 27-year-old Lima is a native of Tiverton, where he ran for School Committee in 2004. His bid was unsuccessful, but he says he learned a lot and loved getting to know his neighbors. As a result of his involvement in the community, he was named chairperson of the committee’s Public Relations Committee that oversaw the execution of a $30 million bond to improve school building infrastructure. He also served for a short time as the chairman of the Republican Town Committee in Tiverton.
Lima says his work in communications has also contributed to his desire to run for office. He served in the United States Army for one year before being honorably discharged due to a health issue – compound stress fractures – and had to switch gears. The unexpected shift brought him to Rhode Island College, where he is on track to graduate this year with a degree in communications. During his time at RIC, he has been involved both in student government and as an observer. He served as secretary and later president of the student body at RIC, and worked at the college’s radio station, television station and newspaper. Lima has continued to work to put himself through school, including as a volunteer broadcaster and communications manager for the Newport Gulls baseball team.
In the meantime, he moved in 2007 to Cranston, a city he hopes to serve.
“I was ready to get back involved again at the local level as far as public service is concerned. I’ve always had a drive and a passion to be involved in my community,” he said. “What makes me happy is when I’m serving in some capacity.”
Lima has already started campaigning, and has enjoyed going door-to-door meeting his neighbors and potential constituents. When asked about his platform, Lima says it will be based in large part on what he discovers on the campaign trail.
“I’m running to represent you; I’m running to hear your issues and bring them to the City Council,” he said.
One issue of importance to Lima is public education.
“Education has always been something I’m very passionate about. I believe public education is critical to the success of our community,” he said.
Lima has been disturbed by some of the trends he has seen, such as cuts in state aid and the increase in the car tax. While those are issues handled by the General Assembly, he said local officials have a responsibility to advocate on behalf of residents and lobby their legislators to act in the best interests of the city.
“I would do everything I could to reverse some of those trends,” he said.
Keeping taxes stable would be a priority for Lima, who admits it is a delicate balance between making cuts, delivering good services and adding revenue to the tax rolls.
“When you look at the budget as a whole, there are services that need to be provided and there are services that can be combined, that can be downsized, that can be changed ... There is always room for savings,” he said.
Increasing revenue, he added, is just as important. He said the “sky is the limit” in terms of what businesses the city might attract, as long as they keep quality of life into consideration, and be careful to only dish out benefits like tax incentives when there is documented proof that the company is successful and will continue to have a positive impact on the community.
“We need to keep Cranston competitive and keep Cranston attractive to businesses,” he said.
Economic development is likewise a priority for incumbent Democrat Archetto, who served six years in the General Assembly, four years in the School Committee and is now seeking a third term on the City Council. He tries to always stay conscious of job creation.
“I am economic conscious,” he said. “At a time when business is moving out of New England, we’re having people come into Cranston.”
Still, he said, there is much work to be done. Archetto thinks the state as a whole could do more to cut red tape and make it easier to do business in Rhode Island.
“We need to address that at the state level to be more business friendly. Here in Cranston, we have to work with the Chamber and work with the unions,” he said. “I think jobs are very important in this economy that we have. We need to get Cranston working again.”
Archetto hopes the City Council will continue to work alongside the Cranston Chamber and the city’s Department of Economic Development to attract new business and grow existing business “in the right way,” preserving open space where possible and not altering the rural character of the western part of the city, for example.
“We need to balance both worlds,” he said.
Balance is a buzzword for Archetto, who hopes the Democrats can maintain control of the City Council in November, to balance out Republican Mayor Allan Fung.
“We need checks and balances in the city,” he said.
Archetto, whose ward includes Taco, Inc., advocated for the tax incentives offered as part of the company’s expansion project, and said that such measures are important when dealing with a major employer and source of tax revenue.
“I think in four years we’re starting to turn a corner and head in the right direction,” he said of the Council’s work.
Expansion in Chapel View is another of Archetto’s proud moments on the Council, as well as holding the line on taxes this year.
“That’s a crowning achievement, I think,” he said.
Archetto said he has enjoyed his time on the Council, and his time working with constituents. He urged residents in his community to feel comfortable reaching out and letting him know what their concerns are.
“Whatever is asked of me I try to get done; I always return phone calls,” he said.