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New faces in Narragansett

November 13, 2012

Narragansett resident James Callaghan was the top vote-getter in last Tuesday's Town Council election.

NARRAGANSETT—In a night that was marked by constant vigilance by televisions screens and websites, checking for election results on the national and state levels, Narragansett came out with a number of new faces on the town council and familiar ones remaining in the Senate and House races.

Three new members were voted to the Narragansett Town Council, which will meet next on November 19. James Callaghan was the top vote getter with 3,404 votes, or 14.6 percent. Traditionally, the candidate who captures the most votes is named as council president.

“I am very happy, and this was a great day with a lot of support from family and friends,” said Callaghan. “I am looking forward to the term. We have got some things to do, particularly finding a new town manager, addressing the pension issue, and things such as beach erosion.”

“It will be tough, but I am looking forward to it,” he added.

Incumbent Susan Cicilline-Buonanno came in second with 3,067 votes, or 13.2 percent, and Matthew Mannix received the third highest total at 2,829 votes, or 12.1 percent. Town Council President Glenna Hagopian gained 2,637 votes, or 11.3 percent, and Douglas McLaughlin rounded out the top five with 2,527 votes, or 10.8 percent.

“I was very flattered and want to thank the people of the town for supporting me,” said Mannix. “I look forward to representing the town in the upcoming two years, protecting and preserving the town and the qualities we like about it.”

“We need to make sure we continue on that track even wilh new challenges as they come forward,” he added.

Incumbents Alisa Trainor-Fleet and David Crook, Sr. lost out with only 7.9 and 7.8 percent of the town’s vote, respectively. Challengers Patrick Murray, Michael Lapisky, and Chris Laccinole did not have enough votes for the top five as well.  

Narragansett School Committee will remain mostly whole from the last term with current Chair Tammy McNeiece winning the most votes with 3,789. Newcomer Keith Ranaldi came in second with 3,543, and incumbents Diane Nobles, Frank White and Guy DeWardener remained with 3,346, 2,979 and 2,964 votes respectively.

In the state races, House District 34 was retained by Representative Teresa Tanzi with 3,485 votes district-wide. She beat Narragansett Town Councilman Christopher Wilkens with 57.9 percent to 41.9 percent of the vote, and won also in Narragansett, albeit narrowly, with 1,658 votes to Wilkens’ 1,641.

“It is such an honor when you look at the number of votes that come in and how much support there is our there,” said Tanzi. It is so uplifting and at times overwhelming to have the support of the residents, and I hope I can continue to make them proud.”

Tanzi cited a number of specific issues she hopes to address in her next term, including state tax expenditures and going after ‘payday lending’ companies who prey on consumers, charging large interest rates with credit schemes.

“Tax expenditures are still front and center, and I am going away next week to a conference to work with national leaders on the issue,” said Tanzi. “We want to try to come up with possibilities for a way that it can fit in the existing budgeting infrastructure, since the information is so specialized we need to make sure we are giving the proper resources it needs.”

“We are not looking to expand government, but I want this to do real work,” she added.

House District 33 went comfortably to incumbent Donald J. Lally, Jr. with 3,835 votes, or 58.4 percent, in all district communities as opposed to challenger Robert Trager’s 2,715 votes, or 41.4 percent.

Senate District 35 went to incumbent Republican Dawson T. Hodgson, winning 58.2 percent of the vote over challenger and Narragansett resident Winters B. Hames, III. Hames did capture, however, Narragansett with 1,750 votes to Hodgson’s 1,542. Senate District 34 went comfortably to incumbent James Sheehan, who took 7,994 votes, or 60.3 percent, to 5,223 for Mariacristina McKendall.

All of the state and local questions were approved by Narragansett voters, including charter changes which were discussed and drafted by the town council over the past year. Two particular changes will give the town council the authority to ‘organize and reorganize any departments or agencies created by the charter,’ and make the director of Public Works, town engineer, and director of parks and recreation positions optional, as well as the Public Works and Parks and Recreations departments themselves.

“The thought that a town council can make serious reorganization decisions and unfettered authority to outsource departments, including mine, I find disturbing,” said Director of Public Works David Ousterhout. “I am really confused and not exactly sure what the expectation is for me or my services at this point, and I don’t think [the changes] were explained adequately for the average voter to know what was going on.”

“I don’t have control over that, but I certainly can defend what we do here in town and the services in town,” said Director of Parks and Recreation Steven Wright. “I haven’t even given it any thought because have been dealing with storm cleanup and this storm now. My priority is dealing with mitigation.”

“I think the work that we do speaks for itself,” he added.

Overall, voter turnout in Narragansett was 59 percent with 7,073 residents having voted.  

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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