Since the Ward 6 City Council seat has become vacant following Matt Reilly’s resignation, a Republican and Democrat candidate have stepped into the ring to vie for the position. However, a new …
Since the Ward 6 City Council seat has become vacant following Matt Reilly’s resignation, a Republican and Democrat candidate have stepped into the ring to vie for the position. However, a new candidate, Doctor Marc Bochner, who will be running as an independent has decided to join in the race to represent the people of Ward 6 and their needs.
"As an independent candidate, I am committed to representing the true voice of our community, free from partisan politics,” Bochner said on his campaign website, believeinbochner.com. “Together, we can build a future of Cranston that is inclusive, sustainable, and prosperous for all."
Having lived in Cranston his whole life, Bochner moved to Ward 6, where he is running for a Council seat, 22 years ago at the age of 18. Growing up in Cranston, attending Stone Hill Elementary and eventually graduating from Cranston West, all helped to put Bochner on a path that led to his decision to run for the open seat.
“I’m running independently for a reason,” he explained. “People over politics. Running as an independent I do not have to listen to how a party wants me to vote. I don’t have pressure to do that. There’s actually been at least one councilman who has left his party to go to a different party after he was elected because of that pressure.”
The decision to jump into local government was not something he planned while going to school to become a healthcare professional.
“A lot of times when you have a parent who is sick the child goes into healthcare, because they have that contrast at a young age,” Bochner explained. “There’s sometimes where you don’t know if your, in my case my mom, would be alive when you’re 18 or 20. So, you develop this compassion for people, because you understand life is precious and you may not have a lot of time with this person.”
What’s wrong, and how do I fix that? Those are the questions that Bochner learned to ask at a young age as he naturally developed an urge to help people alleviate their problems, whether they be health related or otherwise. After receiving his degree in Exercise Science and Kinesiology and doing an internship at Olympic Physical Therapy in Middletown, Bochner applied for a position in physical therapy. The whole time he was working on his degree and internship he taught martial arts.
“I always wanted to be fit,” Bochner explained. “Initially I got into martial arts when I was younger and then lifting weights. I was teaching kids from five to adults that were 95. So, you always have that compassion in you, and you always want to help people especially when you have someone that you really love be not well.”
Whether it be for fitness or not, Bochner said that the greatest gift the martial arts gave to him was discipline. The same thing he works to give to his students at Bochner's Realistic Self-Defense And Fitness on Dyer Avenue.
“In the martial arts you learn to lose, you learn to fail and you learn to get back up,” Bochner explained. “That discipline has gotten me through many things, including physical therapy school.”
It is that same discipline and willingness to get back up and face problems head-on that Bochner hopes to bring to the people of Ward 6 as their representative.
“You want to be client centric,” he said of his attitude towards serving others. “What can I do for the clients? It’s the same thing in politics. How can you be citizen centric? What do I have to do for the constituents to help them? Helping people has been the theme of my life. It’s how this has become the natural next progression of how I can help more people.”
Bochner's evolution as a person may have started with martial arts, but it continued to physical therapy, weight loss transformations, becoming a small business owner and now stepping into the political ring.
“I’m going to just state this, I’m not a politician,” Bochner laughed. “I’m just a regular man who learned how to look at problems, analyze them, look at the data and then solve them. I was trained to do that as a physical therapist. Combine that with the ability to read people and understand, and once you understand that and you know that all humans really want the same thing, making decisions becomes very easy.”
In his opinion, the role of being on the City Council is about one thing, and that is helping to make the constituents happy by doing what is best for them. An idea he wrote about in his newest children’s book “Pug learns to believe,” where a dog runs for political office.
“With my team I was preparing to run later on,” he explained of his plans to run for a seat on the Council. “However, when the circumstance happened, it happened to be in my ward. So, we made the decision and said okay, now is the time for us to come in here. We want to see how much change that we can make.”
Debate over the plans to change, remodel and decrease Budlong pool in size is common in the city with many people supporting Mayor Ken Hopkins’ plan to decrease the pool to a third of its size and add other amenities such as a pickleball court, barbeque area and splash pads, while a group of vocal objectors have attended many city council meetings to demand the pool be restored and updated to ADA compliance while maintaining its current size.
“So I understand both sides,” Bochner commented. “When you make decisions you make it on the data, not on feelings. With that being said, I think both sides want one similar thing to open the pool. So, how can we functionally open the pool so we can start using it. Whether you want to reduce it to a third of the size or keep the size, if it’s not open nothing matters.”
Bochner said that the first thing is to find out how to get a pool open. He said he believes what we need is the data that will say what the fastest and most cost effective way to bring a pool to the people. If that is to maintain its current size, then moving forward with that is what makes sense, if after it is open the numbers say that size is not necessary then maybe that is when the time will come to start looking at resizing the pool.
“I think you really have to look at it,” he said. “Would I love to keep it the same size? Yeah I do. Would that be more expensive? Yes it will, but there are ways to offset that. What I really think we need is to make Budlong Pool not a pool but a destination so you’re bringing more people there. How about building a concession stand that can bring in money for the area and have it run by the children with disabilities, the highschoolers, so they can learn life skills?”
The issue of overnight parking is another that has been mentioned by both the public and members of the council over the course of the last several months. Currently, cars are not allowed to be parked on city streets between the hours of 1 a.m. and 7 a.m.
“I think again it comes down to being citizen centric and what’s best for the citizens,” Bochner said while reestablishing his feelings that what the government should do is care for the people. “The one thing you have to make sure is that if you do have parking on the street there is room for firetrucks to get through. That’s the main issue.“
There are several streets in Ward 6 that Bochner is familiar with that could benefit with extra parking, one example being Hoffman Avenue. Bochner said that while it is a tight street neighboring streets could be used to create overnight spaces nearby that would alleviate the problem of parking for those experiencing it.
“I’m not against parking on the street,” he explained. “However, you need to make sure the safety is still in place. I understand that we want Cranston to be a growing city, but you can’t look at whole problem without looking at the parts. If the cars aren’t bothering everybody and the firetrucks can get through no problem, then I don’t see the problem with having a couple spots designated for parking on the street.”
With Top Golf moving forward and questions of its impact on the area arise, Wall was asked his opinion of the project. After having asked for an update on the project from the council last August, Wall said that he felt they were upfront and honest about the successful completion of a traffic study and that he has no reason to doubt their belief that it won’t add to the congestion already found at the intersection of Pontiac Avenue and Sockanosset Cross Road.
“I think that for Ward 6, where that placement is, that’s a great spot for it,” Bochner elaborated. “There was nothing there, and the Citizen’s Bank was gone. I don’t think we’ll know the data on cars until it’s opened. We’re just making assumptions. The entrance is on the back of 37 which I think is what’s great.”
The time people most use route 37 is during regular rush hour, Bochner said. The time most people will be going to use the Top Golf facility, he believes, will be after rush hour when people have gone home, showered and prepared for going out and doing something fun. Because of this, Bochner believes that it will have a relatively small impact on current traffic patterns and that concerns about traffic may not be necessary.
“37 should be able to handle that traffic at that time,” he explained. “Now if people were trying to all go to Top Golf at 5 to 5:30 p.m. then it might get a little hectic there. I drive on 37 at 8-8:30, it’s not busy. Until we actually see the data on what’s actually going on we don’t know. You can do a study, but until we do the experiment we won’t know.”
Bochner said that he feels one of the issues that needs to be addressed politically is transparency, which is one reason he believes running as an independent gives him an edge.
“For instance when you tell people that Garden City School is millions of dollars over budget, most people don’t know that,” he said. “I know you have funds that are paying for it, but ultimately you need to go back to the taxpayers and ask for more money to cover that. People should know that. When it was just $100,000 over budget someone should have asked what’s going on and let the people know.”
Bochner said that he believes that no one is more qualified to spend your own money than you, especially including the government. The more taxes you pay, he said, the less money you have to spend on the things you need and what matters.
“One of my main objectives is to be more fiscally responsible,” Bochner stipulated. “What areas can we actually reduce spending or renegotiate vendor contracts in ways to not raise taxes or, and this is a novel concept, actually reduce taxes.”
Bochner said that, as a small business owner, watching businesses struggle during COVID was painful. No one came to him with a list of grants and opportunities to help him keep his business afloat. He wants to see the city do more work to support its businesses and citizens and help them thrive.
Those wishing to ask questions of any of the three current candidates can join The Cranston Herald at Central Library on Sockanosset Cross Road for a candidate forum on September 19 at 6:30 p.m.