2017-06-15 / Opinion

Being An Educated Voter


A s the June 9 filing deadline neared for the August 22 special election to fill Teresa Paiva Weed’s vacated District 13 seat, speculation abounded as to who else might be waiting in the wings. And indeed, two more hopefuls surfaced. Independent Kimberly Ripoli and Green Party member Gregory Larson filed their paperwork in the canvassing clerk’s office in Newport City Hall late last week, joining Democrats David Allard, Dawn Euer, John Florez, and David Hanos, and Republican Michael Smith in the July 18 primary fray.

After her filing on Thursday, Ripoli stopped by the Newport This Week office. Her enthusiasm for the election process was palpable. Ripoli was the second to vie for taking a seat away from the Democratic majority in the 38-seat state senate, where the Dems hold 32 seats vs. the five held by Republicans, with the one vacancy to be filled. Unlike Smith, who has entered public races twice before (in 2014 against Paiva Weed and in a 2016 face-off with Lauren Carson for House District Seat 75), Ripoli may be a rookie politician, but she clearly an experienced public servant. She has 30 years of service behind her, including 26 in the Navy.

In her own words: “I’ve decided to follow in the path of other post-9/11 veterans who sought political office to continue their public service to our great republic. I believe that our current two-party political system is anachronistic, divisive and unreflective of ‘the people.’”

Larson, filing on Friday, did so as a Green Party candidate. His dedication to the process is also duly noted. With two earlier forays under his belt, Larson is no novice to the election procedure. He ran on the Green Party ticket in 2010 for District 73 against then-Rep. J. Russell Jackson, D-Newport. When Larson’s Newport neighborhood was rezoned, he filed papers in 2014 to run as a Democrat for the House District 75 seat held by Rep. Peter Martin, D-Newport. However, he did not return paperwork with the required 50 signatures of registered voters, leaving Martin and Carson, D-Newport, in a face-off for the seat.

Besides the robust number of candidates willing to enter this special election, there are numerous public forums providing ways for voters to learn more about the candidates. We encourage readers to not be apathetic during this midterm election, and to take the time to attend one of the many information workshops, and to make an informed decision. The Edward King Center held an informal meet and greet on June 14, but other opportunities include a combined forum by the League of Women Voters June 29 at the Pell Center and another one at the Jane Pickens Theater on Monday, July 10. The Newport Democratic City Committee will also hold an open conversation with the four Democratic candidates on Monday, June 19, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Newport Public Library.

Though many might echo the sentiments of Bud Cicilline, chair of the Newport Democratic Committee, when he said, “Some people are tired of the elective process,” it is still enormously important to get out and vote.

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