ALN is All-In to Improve Life in Newport

By James Merolla  | 2018-10-18 / Around Town

The Alliance for a Livable Newport (ALN)’s mission statement is “improving the quality of life in Newport by being an unbiased resource for information on the issues of importance to the community.”

ALN monitors the pulse of the city, its officials and candidates, seeking to improve school education, infrastructure, public health and safety, the environment and government accountability.

To that end, the organization is hosting three School Committee and City Council candidate forums in October to educate prospective voters. Their website provides detailed answers from candidates to dozens of important issues.

ALN has two co-presidents, John Hirschboeck and Ron Becker. Hirschboeck, who moved to Newport from California in 2009, joined ALN in 2011, taking on a leadership role in 2013. Becker, a part-time resident for 17 years before moving here full time in 2005, joined in 2006, taking on a leadership role in 2008.

Why is ALN important to you?

Hirschboeck: Having moved from Orange County, California, where the population was comparable to all of Rhode Island, I loved the fact that residents could be so close to and familiar with their city government, and have a real impact in helping to improve quality of life.

Becker: It gives me a sense of using my skills to help improve the community in which I live.

Why is ALN important to the community?

Hirschboeck: First-person interchanges with our forum speakers allows residents to make informed decisions and to hold local government accountable. ALN is the only non-partisan, unbiased grassroots organization representing our various neighborhoods that serves this purpose. [It’s] a useful conduit of information to and from elected city officials and staff and our community.

Becker: Communities can only progress and improve if they have the information needed to make educated decisions regarding key issues.

For this upcoming series of forums, how many questions were submitted for each forum?

Becker: Questions from members/ subscribers totaled approximately 70 to 80 for both City Council and School Committee. These were used to draft questions for the three forums and the two online questionnaires.

What do you think is the most important question being asked of the School Committeecandidates?

Hirschboeck: Will you address the importance of early childhood education?

Becker: What is their vision of the future of Newport’s schools and how might that vision be realized?

What other important questions did the candidates answer online at

What efforts will you initiate and support to make the School’s Strategic Plan, One Newport, a true working document? Upon which of the strategic initiatives in particular will you focus your efforts and what will those efforts include?

Within the next two years, Newport residents will have an opportunity to vote on a local bond issue to fund school construction as a proposed remedy for overcrowding at the Pell School and unacceptable structural conditions at Rogers High School. What basic solutions to both problems will you support? Once the School Committee has approved plans for Pell and Rogers, what will you do to assure voters are well acquainted with the facts of the bond issue?

What do you think is the most important question being asked of the City Council candidates?

Hirschboeck: What steps will you take to ensure the Open Space Plan, Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Council’s Strategic Plan become more than words, but actionable items against which major decisions are measured?

Becker: What is their vision of the future of Newport and how might that vision be realized?

In addition to community forums, what other initiatives would you like ALN to accomplish?

Becker: We have evolved into a source of unbiased information on local issues through our forums. That is all the activity our limited manpower allows.

Hirschboeck: I can’t leave without commenting on how ALN and its board have been such tremendous supporters of beautifying Newport with daffodils, serving as the non-profit, fiscal agent for Daffodillion. This fall we’ll finally reach our goal, planting the one millionth daffodil in Newport.

The At Large city council candidate forum will be Oct. 18, and the 1st and 2nd Ward forum will be Oct. 23. Both will be held at City Hall from 6 to 7:30.

Founded: 2004

Founding members: George “Herk” Herchenroether, Jack McVicker, Mike Cullen, Dave Wixted, Burt Hoffman, Mark Colburn and Coles Mallory

Members: 60

Website subscribers: 600

Dues: $25

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