2016-06-23 / Opinion


New Hats for an Old Ring

Monday, June 27, 2016–circle your calendars. On that day, state and local candidates can begin to formally file the necessary paperwork with their local canvassing boards to officially jump into the race for state or local offices. Candidates have until Wednesday, June 29, to get the job done.

Two years ago this week, at the threshold of the 2014 election season, this paper reported that “What seemed like a dearth of candidates for seven Newport School Committee seats turned into an 11th-hour avalanche on … the deadline for filing declarations of candidacy.

“Before the day ended,” the story continued, “12 hopefuls had filed for the seven seats.” In addition, seven City Council aspirants had also declared their intention to run.

Two years later, it seems as if the more things change, the more they remain the same. To date, only one candidate for School Committee has reached out to us: newcomer Adrienne Haylor, who declared her intention to run in the May 19 issue of Newport This Week. In the City Council relay, Lynn Ceglie (Second Ward Councilor) announced on May 12; Kathryn Leonard (Third Ward Councilor) and John Florez (Councilor at Large) followed on June 16. Former mayor Harry Winthrop’s announcement is in this week’s edition. (For those in need of a refresher course, the council is comprised of seven members; one representative is elected from the city's three voting wards and four are elected at-large, all for two year terms.)

The 11th hour is fast approaching, with no avalanche in sight. But the deadline is not only for the familiar faces. This should also be time for intrepid souls, such as Haylor, to bring new blood and a fresh perspective into the political blender.

Further, making a formal declaration by the end of this month is just the first of two requirements before you see your name on either a primary or general election ballot. Candidates must also submit nomination papers with the required number of voter signatures (numbers vary at the local level so you’ll have to check) by July 15.

The work is not easy, and clearly no one does it for the money. School Committee members receive a nominal $1,000 per year, with an additional $500 for the chair; City Councilors $2,000; and the mayor, $4,000. Yet we are consistently impressed with what we perceive to be heroic dedication and passion poured into these jobs.

We need more of that heroism on a local level. And we would like to encourage more local heroes to give some thought to running for office. That’s particularly true for General Assembly seats, where each election year seems to result in many Assembly incumbents “running” for re-election without opposition in November.

As a society, and in our community, there is always room for another hero.

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