2016-11-10 / Around Town

School Committee: It’s All About Those Votes

By Betsy Sherman Walker

With the electorate’s collective eye following the vote count in this anything-goes election year, the outcome of the bids for the seven spots on the Newport School Committee did not disappoint. Newcomer Ray Gomes not only got the votes; he was the top vote-getter in a field of 12.

Gomes, a retired captain in the Newport Fire Department, was a member of the OneNewport strategic plan committee, and is acutely aware of the issues and challenges facing the district.

“The most important issue for the School Committee,” he told Newport This Week prior to the election, “is a lack of confidence in the school system. I would make adoption of the strategic plan and achieving its goals my priority.”

The next day Gomes elaborated: “Having common goals and initiatives for all to work toward is important. It should also provide the framework as we move forward to improve the great work that is done within the Newport Schools.”

Joining Gomes on the committee for the next two years will be incumbents Kathleen Silvia, Jo Eva Gaines, Rebecca Bolan, Sandra Flowers, and David Carlin.

David Hanos makes seven, but only 31 votes separate Hanos from eighth-place finisher Robert Leary. With close to 1,400 absentee ballots still waiting to find a home, Carlin feels it’s too early to close the door on Leary, with whom he shares a fiscal sensitivity.

“With [well over] 1,300 ballots waiting to be counted,” Carlin told Newport This Week, “that’s like an entire voting location.”

Bolan was at post-election party held by Jack and Donna Maytum at their Firehouse Theatre on Broadway when she received news of her re-election. First, she hugged her sons. “I’m honored that this community has placed their trust again in me,” she said. The morning after, Bolan identified “accomplishing all of the goals of the new strategic plan” as the greatest challenge facing the committee. “Our first task at hand,” she commented, “will be to select a chairman who can be a team builder and collaborator.”

Of his re-election, Carlin said he was feeling “enormously grateful and at a loss for words.” Like Bolan, he sees the first priority is for the group to coordinate in electing a chair.

“We have to have somebody at the helm to direct the committee,” he said, “and from a public standpoint, be the face of the committee.” Once in office, Carlin will set his sights on absenteeism and truancy, at Rogers in particular, but also at Pell. “We have done a dismal job,” he said. “Social promotion has got to be addressed.”

But for some, the challenge of the campaign – the thrill of the hunt perhaps – was the reward. Candidate Adrienne Haylor was grateful for the experience, thanking any and all “who supported me and believed in me as someone who could have contributed to the advancement and effectiveness of the Newport School Committee.”

Newport School Committee

Top seven elected

Raymond E. Gomes 3,411
Kathleen M. Silvia 3,228
Jo Eva Gaines 3,042
Rebecca Bolan 2,988
Sandra J. Flowers 2,835
David R. Carlin III 2,743
David C. Hanos Jr. 2,476
Robert J. Leary 2,445
Jennifer E. Jackson 2,035
Hank Kniskern 2,034
Thomas S. Phelan 1,882
Adrienne C. Haylor 1,764

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