Newport City Councilor Justin S. McLaughlin has informed voting officials of his decision to withdraw from the 2020 at-large council race.
The six-term councilor formally notified Newport Canvassing Authority Clerk Tracy Nelson of his intentions in a brief email on Monday, Sept. 28. Soon thereafter, he elaborated in a separate email to his current council colleagues and other at-large candidates that he hopes to “refocus” and make more time for relationships and post-COVID travel.
Prior to his official announcement, McLaughlin told Newport This Week that his change of heart was not precipitated by a personal or family crisis, but instead was motivated by a desire to give others an opportunity to serve.
In a statement to the press, Mc- Laughlin wrote:
“I have decided to withhold public comment about my decision to withdraw from the at-large City Council race at this time.
“I believe that I could have been successful in that race, but there is much more to the job than winning an election. After 12 years on the council, I know all too well that it involves a bit more than attending two meetings a month. My decision represents an honest assessment of my ability to fully commit to the responsibilities of the position. I came to realize that I wasn’t prepared to fulfill the promise to the voters that running makes.
“I hope that I can be of service to the community in the future in other ways.
“The focus of electoral coverage at this time should be on the seven at-large candidates that remain. Four of them will win and hopefully the Fourth Estate will do everything it can to ensure that the voters are as fully informed about their experiences, qualifications, and policy positions as is possible. There will be time to explore my years on the city council after the election, but now is not the time for that to be a distraction.”
According to Nelson, McLaughlin’s name will still appear on the Nov. 3 ballot notwithstanding his departure from the race since it comes after the deadline for making ballot changes.
“I have not discussed [the issue] with the Canvassing Authority yet, but I assume we will do the same as we did in a similar situation in 2016 and place a sign in each voting booth to inform voters,” Nelson told Newport This Week.
McLaughlin was first elected to Newport’s City Council in 2006 and served four terms as the 2nd Ward representative before being elected to an at-large seat in 2014. Although defeated in 2016, he reclaimed the position in 2018.