Portsmouth

Leonard Katzman, 61, Director of Business Development at Brown University for 13 years, is running for a third term on the Portsmouth Town Council. 

A Democrat, he was previously elected to the council in 2004, 2006 and 2018. 

WhatsUpNewp has asked each of the candidates in Newport County about their backgrounds, accomplishments and vision for the next two years. Here’s Katzman’s response.

Government/political history

  • Elected to the Town Council in 2004, 2006 and 2018.
  • Appointed to the Portsmouth Charter Review Committee in 2004 and 2012.
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As an incumbent, what are you most proud of of:

To ask what I am “proud” of feels odd, because I strive to serve in local government for the benefit of all Portsmouth residents, and not to bolster my own pride. That said, I do feel gratitude to have been able to accomplish things that serve to make Portsmouth a better place to live, work, run a business, raise a family, and retire. For example, I have always strongly supported our schools because I believe education is the foundation of American democracy. To admit a point of pride, I am proud that on any issue I explain my decisions in public. It’s not enough for the people to know how I voted; they should also know why I voted a certain way on any given issue. I always base my votes on facts and on rational analytical thinking. The benefit is not just that the public knows my reasons, but that on many occasions fellow town council members are swayed having heard me out. I am proud to have been able to accomplish many things. And I am also proud to have been able, through my reasoned explanations in public, to keep some stupid things from happening. 

If elected what are your three top goals?

In 2020, any discussion of “top three goals” is complicated by the over-riding issue of the COVID-19 pandemic. My goals include (1) keeping our taxes affordable, (2) supporting high-quality schools, and (3) providing residents with the quality of public facilities and services that they need – all while protecting and improving the natural environment that is our lasting legacy to future generations. I will continue to work towards those ends. There will be, however, significant unknown costs and disruptions due to COVID that Portsmouth may face in the upcoming term. The great challenge for the town will be to provide all the programs and services that residents need, while managing those unknown costs and disruptions as they arise as best as possible. I am truly looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and working hard to meet that challenge.

Employment and Education

  • Current employment: Director of Business Development at Brown University, 2007-present
  • Prior to Brown University I was an attorney in private practice at a large Rhode Island law firm.  
  • Prior to my law career I was a software engineer and worked at companies large and small, including at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. 

Schools and degrees

  • Portsmouth High School, 1976
  • University of Rhode Island, Bachelor of Science, computer science, 1985
  • Roger Williams University School of Law School, J.D., cum laude, 2000

Professional organizations, please note leadership positions:

  • RI Bar Association

Community

  • Portsmouth Arts Guild, Board Member 2006-2007
  • Touro Synagogue, congregation Board of Officers 2001-2007
  • The Newport Havurah (a Reform Jewish congregation) Board of Directors, 2008-present
  • Chevra Kadisha Association of Newport County, Board of Trustees 2004-present