2014-06-19 / Front Page

Council Hopefuls Emerge

By Tom Walsh

With nearly five months to go before Newport voters decide the City Council makeup for the next two years, signs which are impossible to ignore already point to a lively campaign.

The Newport Canvassing Authority, located on the first floor of City Hall, 43 Broadway, begins accepting “declarations of candidacy” for the November 4 general election on Monday, June 23. The last day to so declare is Wednesday, June 25.

“They have until 4 p.m. on Wednesday the 25th,” said Richard E. O’Neill, Newport canvassing clerk. He added that would-be candidates who miss the deadline will be out of luck.

Seven members, four selected “at-large” from throughout the city and three ward representatives, comprise the council, Newport’s primary governing body.

In the Second Ward, Lynn U. Ceglie, now vice chairman of the Newport Zoning Board of Review, said she will seek the ward’s council seat held since 2006 by Councilor Justin S. McLaughlin. But she–or any other Second Ward candidate–won’t have to topple McLaughlin, who will seek a fifth council term as an at-large candidate.

Meanwhile, C. Andrews Lavarre, an outspoken and well-traveled Navy veteran who has lived in the city’s Point section since 2003, also stepped forward as an at-large council hopeful.

Ceglie, employed by the East Bay Community Action Program as a child outreach worker, said she will run because “I really love the issues, talking about the issues, solving problems." With a degree in mass communications from the University of Hartford, Ceglie said, “I don’t think we communicate as well as we should.” For example, she cited the lengthy paving disruption of Broadway and declared, “From the outside, I don’t know the answers to questions. I go to City Council meetings but I don’t know how decisions are made. I’d like to be a voice of clarity.”

Ceglie fell 22 votes short of winning a seat on the Newport School Committee in 2010. “It was not easy to lose that race,” she said. Her campaign, she said, would focus on what she described as her ability to work “tirelessly” for the people of Newport.

The path to the Second Ward council seat became less of an uphill climb with news that McLaughlin will take his 2014 campaign citywide as an at-large candidate. “After eight years as a ward councilor, it was time to take a shot at an at-large seat and open a ward seat for new people,” he said.

McLaughlin, a 1965 Boston College graduate who retired from the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Middletown in 2004, said that as a ward councilor his concerns have gradually broadened to issues that pertain to all of Newport. “I think I have a sense of what Newport should be like and I want to focus on the quality of life for all of our residents.”

Lavarre, a retired U.S. Navy captain whose 23-year active-duty career took him to Newport and around the world, described his political philosophy as being “politically incorrect.” He added, “I know what God thinks and what I think and, quite frankly, no one else matters. If you tell the truth and do the right thing, everyone wins.”

Lavarre maintained that he’s “never met a budget you couldn’t cut in half instantly.” Asked whether he would seek to accomplish that as a Newport councilor, he said, “I’m not going to say such a thing without knowing the numbers.”

If elected, Lavarre, who worked for a New York City business consulting firm after his Navy career, promised to reach out to city residents through workshops and interviews to determine Newport’s “top ten list of problems.” He said he would try to act on those problems as a council member. “I’ll tell the city manager that these are the priorities,” he said. “You’ll see things happen through openness, honesty and bravery.”

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