2014-11-06 / Around Town

Newporters Have Their Say

By Barry Bridges

After months of campaign ads, forums, and letters to the editor, Newporters headed to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 4, to render their verdict on the candidates.

The City Council will have two new faces in the next term. Lynn Ceglie defeated Martha Marie Grogan in the Second Ward race, while political newcomer John Florez claimed one of the four at-large seats along with incumbents Naomi Neville, Justin McLaughlin, and Jeanne-Marie Napolitano. Elsewhere, Councilor Kathryn Leonard held back challenger John Edwards to retain her Third Ward seat. First Ward Councilor Marco Camacho was unopposed in his re-election bid.

In an unexpected development, Mayor Henry Winthrop did not place among the top four at-large contenders and will not return to the council. Similarly, incumbent Michael Farley and C. Andrews Lavarre failed to garner the necessary backing to place them in City Hall.

Neville and Ceglie were joined by supporters at a post-election gathering at Fifth Element on Broadway. Ceglie remarked, “My victory comes in large part through visiting 2,400 homes in door-to-door campaigning. I was also able to point to my long record of public service.” With her victory, she will step down as vice chair of the Zoning Board of Review.

Neville, the current council vice chair and top finisher in this year’s contest, said “I worked hard, and my theme of cooperation and shared services contributed to my win. I have tried to stay positive, focusing on how we can all work together to move forward.”

The new council will select a mayor when it meets to organize, and Winthrop’s loss means that mayoral duties will change hands. When asked if she was interested in the role, Neville said, “The idea is new, but I would consider it.”

Grogan issued a statement after the results were in, saying “This was an exciting race from start to finish. I’m incredibly grateful to each and every Second Ward voter who cast their vote. All congratulations to Lynn Ceglie. I wish her all the best.” Looking to the future, she added, “Although I won’t be serving on council, I care deeply about Newport and will stay meaningfully engaged in other ways.”

Meanwhile, Edwards commented through Facebook on his second-place finish, hinting at another run in 2016. “Thank you to everyone who came out today to vote and thank you to the people who believed in me and thought I was the right person to represent them in the Third Ward,” he wrote. “I look forward to seeing all of you in two years and working hard on your behalf in the future.”

Tuesday night’s results also mean that the Newport School Committee will see changes, as challengers Kathleen Silvia, David Hanos, and David Carlin were among the top vote-getters and will take their place among school leadership. Longtime education advocate Jo Eva Gaines received the highest count at 3,272 votes. Rounding out the remainder of the sevenmember committee will be Sandra Flowers, Rebecca Bolan, and Robert Leary, who will join Gaines as returning members.

The three school board newcomers will replace current committee Chair Dr. Charles Shoemaker, who declined to run again, and incumbents Thomas Phelan and Robert Power, who failed to win re-election. Michael Cullen, Charles Humphrey, and Margaret Kirschner also fell short in their campaign efforts.

Newporters also weighed in on 13 local ballot questions, all of which passed. A $6 million facilities bond was overwhelmingly approved, 5,385 to 1,666. It will finance the construction of a new ADA-compliant elevator at City Hall, as well as costs of needed repairs at Rogers High School, Toppa Field, the public library, and the Edward King House.

A non-binding referendum question, “Should Newport and Middletown join to establish a unified high school?” also found substantial support in Newport and was endorsed by a 2,171-vote margin. However, the Middletown electorate rejected the same question, which may mean that leaders there will not be quick to embrace further dialogue on the issue.

The remaining 11 local questions covered amendments to the Newport City Charter that were originally proposed by the Charter Review Commission and endorsed by City Council. All of the measures passed by large percentages.

Additionally, city residents joined other Rhode Islanders in approving several statewide bonds to cover the costs of initiatives in higher education, the cultural arts and mass transit, while rejecting a call for a constitutional convention.

Newport Election Results

Registered voters 14,127 Voter turnout 50.69% Number of voters 7,161

City Council, At-Large
(Top four elected)

Neville 3,654
McLaughlin 3,605
Napolitano 3,600
Florez 3,517
Winthrop 3,296
Farley 2,693
Lavarre 1,201

City Council, Ward 1
(Unopposed) Camacho 1,275

City Council, Ward 2
Ceglie 1,287 (elected)
Grogan 1,155

City Council, Ward 3
Leonard 1,290 (elected)
Edwards 1,014

School Committee
(Top seven elected)

Gaines 3,272
Silvia 3,223
Hanos 3,011
Flowers 2,923
Bolan 2,803
Leary 2,768

Carlin 2,600
Phelan 2,399
Cullen 2,246
Power 1,959
Humphrey 1,866
Kirschner 1,636

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