"The town charter prevents any one council member from telling the town manager what to do, and that's a good thing," stated Frank A. Bozyan, an incumbent on the Middletown Town Council seeking reelection.
"But you can ask him questions, and very often if you ask the right questions, you can get things done."
Mr. Bozyan, 72, is a semi-retired radio astronomer and professor who has taught at the University of Rhode Island, Providence College and RIC, after arriving in Middletown, where his family summered growing up, from the University of Texas at Austin in 1992.
While his political career comprises only the previous two years, Bozyan's answers to questions regarding the town's budget, economic growth, and the educational forecast – far from being starry-eyed or originating from the proverbial ivory tower of academia – are refreshingly grounded, deliberatively expressed and straight-forward.
The Democrat spoke of the occasional political necessity of navigating the knee-jerk veto of other Town Council members or keeping the town administrator true to his word. For example, with regard to public safety, Bozyan was once concerned with cars passing through a dangerously brief green-light, and consequently running the red, upon leaving the parking area at the Barnes & Noble in Middletown Village, on West Main Road. Or when speaking with the Middletown beach lifeguards and learning about the need for new radios because the ones they had failed to work. (The Beach Commission is one of seven on which Bozyan serves).
"You gotta push and shove a little bit," he stated with respect to getting things accomplished.
With respect to the current economic crisis, Bozyan similarly did not mince words.
"The state is essentially bankrupt. The new [education] funding formula will deprive Middletown of more state aid. We have an approximate eight percent knock in income. We can't close the schools down. But we can make fire and police systems a little more efficient. Right now, that's what we're working on. The fire department labor contract is in arbitration."
Bozyan made clear that he believes the Middletown Fire Department provides the town with excellent service.
"These guys are really terrific. Today they have to be practically doctors and lawyers," he said, in regard to the dilemma emergency response personnel frequently face on a call when someone in distress is refusing transport to the hospital.
When asked about the town's future prospects for economic growth, Bozyan emphasized Middletown's "tremendous asset in the navy base, and an industrial park with defense-related business that we must upgrade in order to make it more attractive and bring in more high-paying jobs."
"We've got to keep taxes low to stem foreclosures," he said. "As a country, we've got to get people working."
Given the question of whether he supported wind energy, Mr. Bozyan stated he was "100-percent for it." And further, he said that if the plans to supply a portion of our energy needs with wind turbines were to have a significant impact, "building a lot of little ones is not going to do it."
He spoke of first building a wind turbine at Simmons Farm that would offer proof of concept, before moving to create a more ambitious wind power facilities off-shore.
He took his fellow Town Council members to task on the divisive issue, saying the group "lacked the energy and focus" and was "very short-sighted" in studying the problem of energy and the possible green energy solution of wind.
"We didn't finish it," Bozyan said indicting himself and the council as a whole. "With wind, it appears someone is either 100-percent for it, or 100-percent against it. And it only takes a few people yelling 'no' to make quite a noise."
The week beginning Oct. 17, Middletown Patch will profile candidates for Town Council and all profiles will remain easily accessible in the Election '10 tab of the Home Page. Thirteen candidates are running for Town Council on Nov. 2, 2010.