Sheeler Challenges Breene to Debate: District 34 Voters Invited

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The contentious race has come to a head with a debate scheduled on Monday, October 11 from 7pm to 9pm at the Exeter West Greenwich High School.

Last evening, District 34 Challenger Carl L. Sheeler, Ph.D. received notification incumbent Kevin A. Breene (R) has finally agreed to a debate format, place and time. Dr. Marie Hennedy of the League of Women Voters, and possibly a representative from our district’s newspaper, will moderate the two hour debate scheduled for Columbus Day, Monday, October 11 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm.

Although, Sheeler had suggested a venue that showed consideration for the neglected voters of CHARIHO, Breene felt a venue of the more familiar surroundings of Exeter-West Greenwich High School auditorium was well-suited for the debate. Both Sheeler and Breene reside in West Greenwich. Breene is also the West Greenwich full-time town administrator.

Sheeler stated, “I am thrilled Kevin has finally agreed to an open and honest forum. This is better than the hostile letter I received from him recently due to my comments about the size of his land and level of community, protection and emergency services in West Greenwich and ouir district. I hope residents from Charlestown, Hopkinton and Richmond will attend along with the EWG community. In my walking these neighborhoods, there is a sense of political divisiveness and conflict of interest that a full-time town administrator is also serving in the State Senate. My understanding is William Shaw,a West Greenwich Fire Chief is filing a complaint on Monday. Since Kevin receives full-time pay of $33,000, it stands to reason he should serve in one capacity or the other along with running his dairy farm. Our taxpayers deserve nothing less and it makes me wonder what the town council was thinking. I’m sure the voters are wondering the same thing. My discussions with Coventry area’s long-time District 33 State Senator, Lou Raptakis, suggests he and many in the State Senate share this sentiment.”

Sheeler went on to express, “It would be good if we have a truly non-partisan turn-out. I am sure not only West Greenwich’s property owners want to learn about why Kevin has allowed property taxes to go unchecked (increased over 12% last year) and he has halved the town’s surplus account to emergency levels. Several residents and business people in and around the Lake Mishnook area of West Greenwich are gravely disturbed why, when Amgen acquired the West Greenwich based Immunex in July 2002 and paid over $572 million for the plant and equipment and has since invested another $1 billion+ in additional construction, this $8 billion+ in annual sales behemoth is paying only a small fraction of the $25+ million assessment they should be. That’s more than twice the town’s overall tax revenues for the 2003 – 2004 period.

If paid, it would have resulted in lower property taxes for homeowners and better municipal services! Lou can’t understand why Kevin wants the Coventry Hopkins Hill Fire Department to service this part of West Greenwich, when Lake Mishnook has the largest full-time department in our town.” A similar tax rebate arrangement appears to exist with Gtech as well. Executives of GTech and Immunex/Amgen as well as unions have been contributors to Breene’s past campaigns according to his campaign finance reports. "I think an independent assessor ought to examine some of these assessment issues and Kevin's "special" relationships more closely," Sheeler has suggested.

“This inequity is a burden to area property owners. Certainly, our district's many small businesses, which could really use tax incentives don’t enjoy such perks. I also learned from several members of the State Senate that South County; especially CHARIHO, residents are carrying an inequitable burden of both state income and property taxes. This is because they tend to pay more to the state general fund in income taxes, but Kevin has historically brought back less than 2% annual increases for our schools, while the Providence area education has enjoyed between 6% and 8% during each of the past five years. I think voters want to know the person they elect into office is about “economics and not just politics”. This debate is ideal for that,” Sheeler stated.

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Sara Pearson, Campaign Manager
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