The main issues that Ed Brady and Tom Cappalli are focusing on in their City Council race in Ward 4 are what to do with open space, how to stop speeding, and how to keep improving schools in the city.
Both Brady, a Republican, and Cappalli, a Democrat, are trying to get elected for the first time as Cranston City Councilman, though Brady was appointed as the interim Ward 4 councilman when Trent Colford retired in June, and Cappalli said he’s been involved in Cranston politics as part of the Ward 4 City Committee for over eight years.
School safety and education improvements are at the forefront of each Ward 4 candidate’s platforms. Cappalli works as a stationary engineer in Providence schools and Brady said that his time as a high schooler at Cranston West had a profound effect on his life, and he said the involvement with schools is a pillar of a community.
“People want to see improved education,” Brady said. “Working with principals and students and teachers and parents, that’s how it gets done.”
“While being fiscally responsible, I do think that schools should have a higher budget,” he added.
Brady said that finding ways to help out schools that don’t cost the taxpayer are also important, and he said he’s done this through working with non-profits to fix basketball courts at Peters and Garden City schools, as well as working with the Cranston West alumni to raise $150,000 for a new auditorium at the high school.
He also said that he wants to make sure teachers know they are valued in the community.
“There are three things people care about in their jobs,” he said. “Compensation, ability to grow, and ability to know you’re making a difference. We want to make sure that people are properly compensated.”
He added that he doesn’t necessarily believe school employees in Cranston aren’t compensated as well as they should be right now, but he said the community benefits when they know they are valued.
Cappalli, meanwhile, said that his “number one issue” is safe schools.
“I’ve worked in Providence schools for 27 years,” he said. “I know how important it is to keep children safe in schools. Taking a little bit of the worry off the parents, knowing their children are safe.”
He said that “awareness of the simplest security breaches” is important for people in schools to know about, such as closing a door that has been left open, or enforcing the rule that doors can’t be held for anyone else when people are entering the schools during the day.
Brady’s idea of keeping schools safe aligns with Mayor Allan Fung’s proposal to put a school resource officer in every school in the state, he said.
“I was fortunate enough to have an SRO be in school when I was at West, and he was a great mentor to me,” he said. “I love the Mayor’s vision of having police presence in every single school. Schools have already done a great job of increasing safety and locks. I think we should merge relationships with the school committee, teachers, and parents.”
Cappalli’s background as an engineer in schools also lends to his expertise in school buildings repairs and construction, he said. He said that keeping up with structural work in schools, such as heating repairs, helps them in the long-term by eliminating the need for major projects.
“Each building has to have their own assessment done in a timely fashion,” he said. “Don’t let it deteriorate to the point where you’re looking at a major project. Part of safe schools are safe buildings, and identifying problems as far as any kind of heating work, any structural work that needs to be done, it’s not going to cost the taxpayers a ton of money to do a repair. If you stay on top of it you’re well aware of everything structurally.”
Both Brady and Cappalli said that more resources should be given to the schools so they can buy materials for students, such as more computers in classrooms.
Open spaces out in Ward 4, which is the biggest Ward in the city in terms of land, is another issue on the minds of residents there, both candidates said.
Cappalli said he “loves open space,” and although farming in Rhode Island is “a hard living,” he wants to keep as much open space in Cranston as possible.
“I’m all for renewable energy and appreciate what they want to do with solar farms, but you rather drive through the country and see a cow or a solar farm,” he said. “I’d rather see a cow. Disturbing open spaces and farms does have an impact on the type of life people appreciate in our ward. It’s nice to go out to a farm on the weekend and pick apples. We’re fortunate enough to have beautiful lands and orchards in our ward.”
Brady said that the issue of open space use is something he’s “feeling out amongst residents.”
“I want to be pro-business, but at the same time community-minded,” he said. “I want to see exactly how they feel about it and put the people first.”
Brady expounded on his pro-business stance, asserting that his experience as a small-business owner in Cranston, as owner of the Thirsty Beaver restaurant, will allow him to help bridge the gap between businesses and the city.
“We have some great economic development grants,” he said. “There are lots of small businesses that don’t understand them. I can properly market it through my connections and network and relationship building.”
In a very local sense to Ward 4, Cappalli said that speeding cars, specifically in the area of Pippin Orchard Rd. and Comstock Pkwy., is something that concerns the residents in the area. He said that the police department does “a great job” patrolling the city, but it’s hard to focus on just one area with how big the city is. Brady said speeding is “consistent complaint,” and he would want to work within the budget to put up speed radar signs and monitor the area more with police.
Overall, Brady praised Cranston for its strong community.
“I’ve never lived in a city where I’ve seen such great pride in your city,” he said. “I can work with everyone, bridge those relationships, and effectively get things done.”
Cappalli echoed that sentiment, but added that he is surprised by how many people he talks to that don’t know their City Councilman, and said that as Councilman he would make sure that everybody can contact him and have a relationship with him.
Ed Brady is 34 years old, has a fiancée, lives on Thunder Trail, and has a bachelor’s degree from Bryant University.Tom Cappalli is 55 years old, has a wife and two children, and lives on Robinlyn Dr.