Evan P. Shanley
190 Viceroy Road
Warwick, Rhode Island
For the past sixty plus years, the Shanley family has been proud to call Warwick our home. By the grace of God, I was born into a family that values a good education, hard work, community service, empathy and selflessness. These are the values that have guided me.
My favorite story about my father comes from the Blizzard of 1978. Dad was working as a janitor at the Trudeau Center on Post Road, which offers services for people with disabilities. Dad wasn’t scheduled to work on the day the blizzard started, but decided to stop in on his way home to see if he could help out. After almost everyone else had gone home, he was asked if he would be willing to stay for a bit until three busses came to bring the participants home. Dad agreed, and everyone else went home. As the snow piled up and the hours passed, Dad realized that the busses weren’t coming. So this nineteen-year-old janitor and CCRI student realized that he alone would have to care for eighteen people with mental and/or physical disabilities. Dad took charge, cooking dinner, distributing necessary medications, setting up beds and keeping the participants calm. For three days, Dad stayed at the Trudeau Center, making sure that those who could not care for themselves were taken care of.
I have always hoped to be like my father. Dad has a saying: “Always try to leave people better than you met them.” I think those are great words to live by - and they apply to our community, too. As a lifelong resident of Warwick, and the son of a working class family with roots in Warwick for three generations, I am proud to call our neighborhood home. But I am concerned about the direction that our State and City are going.
Some say that the problems we face are insurmountable – our schools cannot be fixed, our economy cannot be revitalized, our financial system is rigged and our government is controlled by special interests and cannot be made responsive to folks like us. I disagree.
I believe that we can face these challenges, and overcome them. To move our State forward, however, we cannot continue to turn to the same failed policies of the past, and the same entrenched politicians who abuse their position and influence for personal gain.
I am proud to let you know that I am running for the Rhode Island House of Representatives to be a voice for working families -- a voice for people who want government to work for all of us, not just for insiders who spend decades in office representing themselves. And I can’t bring about this change without your help.
While the election is months away, I wanted to share with you a little bit about me and my experiences. I hope that this letter will serve as a first introduction before I meet you and have the opportunity to ask for your vote in person.
My grandfather, Joseph Shanley, served on a bomber crew in Europe during World War II, and after the war, went to Providence College on the GI bill. He moved to our town in 1951 after being hired by the Providence Journal. In 1973, Grandpa Joe co-founded a local advertising agency that still exists today, employing 35 Rhode Islanders. My grandmother Elaine also worked while supporting her family, serving as a librarian at Providence College for 25 years. They started their family on Flagg Street, then moved to Superior Street, and spent their golden years on Hedgerow Drive.
I grew up on Sturbridge Drive. My father, Paul Shanley worked as a Warwick police officer for 26 years. He retired in 2007 to launch his new career as Deputy Chief of the Brown University Police Department and in 2015, after years of hard work, he earned his Master’s in Public Administration from Roger Williams University.
My stepmom, Patti Shanley, was raised on Long Street in Warwick by Ethel and Jim Monahan, and has been a Warwick teacher for 20 years, fostering a passion for education in young minds. I am constantly running into Patti’s former students who are always eager to tell me about the impact that she had on their life. Like my father and sister, Patti is a Eucharistic Minister at St. Greg’s.
From a very young age, my family taught me the value of hard work, mostly by example. My mother, Mary Madden, is one of the hardest-working people I know. Until recently, she was President of the Trudeau Center, and she continues to fight for the rights of people with disabilities, their families and caregivers.
My parents pushed my siblings and me to dream big and taught us that education was the path to success. I went to school here in Warwick – from Cedar Hill Elementary School, to Winman Junior High School, to Toll Gate High School. After graduating, I went to Providence College, where I worked my way through school tutoring and selling sneakers at Foot Locker.
At PC, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer because I wanted to be an advocate for people who work hard and play by the rules. I went on to attend Catholic University School of Law, in Washington, D.C. I wanted to represent working individuals and families; people who needed a voice against powerful insiders.
After law school, I moved to Kansas City. Things were going well and I was working for an established firm and gaining some great experience. But it was not long before I discovered just how much I missed home. I found myself spending all of my vacation time coming back to Warwick. So I decided that I did not want to spend the rest of my life vacationing in Warwick - I wanted Warwick to be my home. So Dad and I packed up a U-Haul and drove thirty hours across the country until I was once again home. Since returning home, I have worked at a small employment law office in North Kingstown, helping to provide legal help to working class people.
This past year, I made the best decision of my life and married my wife, Meredith Garrity. Meredith grew up in Warwick and went to St. Mary’s Academy Bay View and Rhode Island College. She got her first job at Eleanor Briggs School, working on behalf of students with severe behavioral and emotional needs while pursuing her Master’s Degree at Providence College. She is currently in her fifth year as a special education teacher John Wickes Elementary in Warwick.
My education changed my life, and has made me a fierce advocate of providing a high quality public education for all Rhode Island children. I believe that our schools must have the resources necessary to provide students with every opportunity for success.
Meredith and I are excited to start our own family here in Warwick: a great community with great schools. But we are concerned that, over the last decade, our economy and government have faltered. Good schools are being closed. Many of my friends have moved away from Warwick, since well-paying jobs haven’t returned to Rhode Island.
My experience growing up in a working class family in Warwick has firmly shaped my commitment to ensuring that all Rhode Islanders have an opportunity to stay and work in Rhode Island, and that Warwick continues to be a great place to raise a family.
Unfortunately, the incumbent has not been active in addressing the problems that face our City and State. When I look around our community, it’s hard not to think that in his sixteen years in office, things have gotten worse, not better. I think our community deserves someone that will advocate for common sense solutions to help improve our City and State. We need new ideas, new leadership and new energy.
Without the change we so desperately need, Rhode Island will not be able to move forward. That is why I am running. I am committed to Warwick and will fight to make it a better place to live and raise a family. I want to make sure that we have a stronger economy, safe neighborhoods, good schools, and clean water, parks and beaches – the kind of real, positive change that our neighborhood deserves.
I ask for your consideration, and I look forward to asking you for your vote for State Representative in our District.