2016-11-10 / Front Page

Three Seats Change on Newport Council

By Barry Bridges

Following Tuesday’s municipal election, it appears that two newcomers, along with a more familiar face around City Hall, will be taking seats on the Newport Council for the next two years.

According to unofficial results, former city councilor and mayor Henry “Harry” Winthrop was the top vote-getter on Election Day and will return to office. Joining him as an at-large representative and making her political debut will be Jamie Bova, who placed third. Initial figures also indicated a new face in the First Ward, with challenger Susan Taylor besting incumbent Marco Camacho.

Incumbents John Florez and Jeanne-Marie Napolitano retained their positions, rounding out the four at-large seats. Second Ward Councilor Lynn Ceglie and Third Ward Councilor Kathryn Leonard both ran unopposed.

Present at-large Councilor Justin McLaughlin finished fifth and has apparently been edged out, while victory also proved elusive for challenger

Newly elected First Ward councilor Susan Taylor is congratulated by Dr. Charles Shoemaker after hearing of her victory. (Photo by Lynne Tungett) Newly elected First Ward councilor Susan Taylor is congratulated by Dr. Charles Shoemaker after hearing of her victory. (Photo by Lynne Tungett) Claude Andrews Lavarre, who placed last in the field.

All results come with the caveat that 1,382 absentee ballots from Newport need to be tallied by state elections officials; final numbers are expected to be certified by noon on Thursday, Nov. 10, and posted online by the end of the day.

“The work that we put into the campaign really paid off,” Winthrop told Newport This Week. With previous terms on the council from 1990-1993, 1995, and 2011-2014, he credited this year’s new strategy of more online advertising.

“But the biggest thing is that I articulated a platform,” he continued. Winthrop outlined several priorities, such as securing funding for the Pell Bridge realignment, finishing the Sheffield business incubator, and relocating the visitor’s center to the North End. “People could know what my plan was, and it looked to the future. The day-today business of the city should be left to the administration.”

At-large councilor Naomi Neville is acknowledged for her service at the Nov. 9 council meeting. 
(Photo by Jen Carter) At-large councilor Naomi Neville is acknowledged for her service at the Nov. 9 council meeting. (Photo by Jen Carter) Bova attributed her success to the efforts of her campaign. “I think it was the hard work that I put in to get my name out to folks.” She found door-to-door campaigning to be a “great experience,” and added that her message of transparency resonated. “People were happy I was there; I made it clear I wanted to be a voice for everyone.”

Regarding her win, Taylor commented in a statement, “I’m really honored that so many voters in the First Ward have placed their confidence in me. I think it shows they’re engaged in the exciting things happening in Newport and want to be part of the decisions made in developing the North End. As I promised in my campaign, I’ll work to make that happen.” As for her first foray into seeking public office, she thanked her volunteers for making it “a fun and inspiring experience.”

The uncounted absentee ballots gave pause to Florez. As of Wednesday, only 116 votes separated him from McLaughlin.

“I want to wait until we know the final results, but if the numbers hold up I look forward to continuing to serve the community and will look for ways to be a more effective leader. Based on the personalities [of the prospective top vote-getters], I am confident that we could work really well together,” said Florez.

Napolitano, who has 20 years of council experience, pointed to several factors contributing to her second place finish.

“I think by and large people have thought the council has worked well together in the last two years and want to see that continue. This latest term has been much more positive.” She also said that recent progress on development plans in the North End played in her favor. “People are surprised that we’ve gotten as far as we have.”

“I’m truly humbled by where I placed and feel very confident about Newport’s future,” Napolitano told Newport This Week.

While McLaughlin could theoretically benefit when the absentee count is tabulated, he was not hopeful of any difference in the outcome.

“I’m not holding my breath,” he said, “and I would not expect the results to change. I’m just going to be taking my signs down today…. But the spotlight should not be on me; the people who won deserve the attention, and I congratulate them.”

Pursuant to the Newport City Charter, the new two-year term for the seven councilors will begin on Dec. 1. Before then, they will caucus and convene an organizational meeting to agree upon which at-large representative will be named council chair/mayor.

At least two councilors are showing an early interest.

“I’d like to be mayor again,” Napolitano confirmed.

Winthrop, who was mayor from 2012 to 2014, said, “If the council wants me to be the chair, I will gladly accept the role.”

Newport City Council

Top four elected

City Council, At-Large
Henry F. Winthrop 4,481
Jeanne-Marie Napolitano 4,196
Jamie P. Bova 3,659
John F. Florez 3,410
Justin S. McLaughlin 3,294
Kimberly L. Shute 1,159
Claude Andrews Lavarre 959

City Council, Ward 1
Top elected

Susan D. Taylor 979
Marco T. Camacho 875

City Council, Ward 2
(unopposed) Lynn Underwood
Ceglie 1,974

City Council, Ward 3
(unopposed) Kathryn E.
Leonard 1,646

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