The ballot questions to watch in Rhode Island’s cities and towns

The 2020 ballot in Cranston.
The 2020 ballot in Cranston.

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Happy Monday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and I really want to feel bad for Patriots fans, but now you know how Giants fans are feeling this year. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 30,118 confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, after adding 449 new cases. The most recent overall daily test-positive rate was 3.2 percent, and the first-time positive rate was 13.8 percent. The state announced four more deaths, bringing the total to 1,177. There were 140 people in the hospital.


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With the outcome of the presidential race in Rhode Island hardly in doubt and no hotly contested statewide races on the ballot, the election cycle here isn’t quite as exciting as it is in other parts of the country. But voters in 23 cities and towns have local ballot questions to consider, ranging from term limits to whether they should borrow millions of dollars for school repairs and other projects.

You can see each community’s ballot here, and I’ve got a guide to the most interesting questions below.

School bonds

There are four cities and towns seeking to borrow at least $50 million for schools: Cranston ($147 million), Providence ($140 million), Newport ($106.5 million), and Warwick ($56 million). Newport might have the most comprehensive project, as it wants to build a new Rogers High School and add space at Pell Elementary School.

Reform measures in Cranston

Cranston has a competitive mayoral race between Democrat Maria Bucci and Republican Ken Hopkins, but voters are also being asked to make to significant changes to the way government runs. That includes giving the mayor line-item veto power over the budget (something that governors in Rhode Island have been seeking for years) and a 3 percent annual cap on property tax levy increases (the state currently caps increases at 4 percent).


The library in Narragansett

Narragansett politics isn’t usually this fierce, but the saga over whether to build a new library seems to have everyone on edge. Voters will once and for all have their say on where the library should go, but they’ll also consider a proposal that would require voter approval of any sale of town-owned property. Most communities have their local legislative bodies settle those matters.


Voters in Foster will consider whether members of the Town Council should serve four years instead of two, which is similar to Providence. Glocester voters will have the chance to require voter approval for any future regionalization effort.

A new mayor

Bristol could become the latest town to have a mayor (rather than a town administrator or manager), as voters will be asked if they want to change the title of the current elected chief executive.

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⚓ The hottest race of the year in Rhode Island is House District 15 in Cranston, where Democratic Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is taking on Republican Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung. My colleague Ed Fitzpatrick takes a look at how they differ – or agree – on the key issues. Read more.


⚓ This week’s Ocean State Innovators Q&A is with Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of people who live in the Ocean State. E-mail Ed if you have someone he should talk to for his weekly interview. Read more.

⚓ Brown University School of Public Health Dean Dr. Ashish Jha is among the experts warning that colder weather could bring a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, but he maintains there are still ways to slow the spread. Read more.

⚓ If you haven’t started reading Home Stretch, my nightly newsletter on the final days of the presidential race, you should sign up here. Last night’s edition previewed the week ahead in national politics. Read more.

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Politics: John Arnold, the Texas billionaire who has played in Rhode Island politics for nearly a decade now, is spending millions to support the ranked-choice voting ballot initiative in Massachusetts. Read more.

Business: Dunkin' appears to be on the verge of selling itself for nearly $9 billion. Let’s just hope they keep the Strawberry Refresher forever. Read more.

Health: Pharmaceutical executives, board members, and related investment funds have made fortunes from the dizzying rise in their companies' stock prices before a single COVID-19 vaccine has proven safe and effective or a game-changing treatment has been approved. Read more.

Sports: Baseball is getting a fantastic World Series this season, but Commissioner Rob Manfred tells the Globe that teams combined for $3 billion in operating losses during the coronavirus-shortened season. Read more.


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Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

Contest: Don’t forget to pick the winners of the general election in Rhode Island for a chance to win Rhode Map tote bags and gift cards to Frog & Toad.

⚓ My colleague Shirley Leung is hosting a virtual discussion at noon on how companies can elevate women of color.

⚓ The state Board of Elections meets at 2 p.m. to consider issuing guidance or a directive regarding use of expired driver’s licenses as a valid form of ID at the polls this year.

⚓ The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation meets at 5 p.m. to consider changes to the Restore R.I. small business relief grant program.

⚓ Need something Halloween-y to do this week? There’s a scavenger hunt in Slater Park.

⚓ Do you ❤️ Rhode Map? Your subscription is what makes it possible. We’ve got a great offer here.

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Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to dan.mcgowan@globe.com, or follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan. See you tomorrow.

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Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.