A Vote for Friday Five-- 11/08/02
Friday Five

1. Did you vote in your last elections?

Yes, this past Tuesday, Nov. 5th.

2. Do you know who your elected representatives are?

I couldn't name all five new members of the town council (nor all five new school committee members) with out looking it up, but I could list most of them. I know who my state (and federal) legislators are, etc.

3. Have you ever contacted an elected representative? If so, what was it about?

Yes, many times over the years, starting back when I was a college student. I've spoken personally with local officials (city and town council members, school board, mayor, etc.) regarding different issues, have spoken at public meetings, and have written state and federal legislators over the years on various issues. It works better at local levels; the closer the representative is to your community, the greater impact your message will have.

4. Have you ever participated in a demonstration?

Yes. My wife and I attended a demonstration in LaSalle Park (I think that was the name) in Washington and marched in front of the White House in support of the Equal Rights Amendment (back in '81).

5. Have you ever volunteered in an election? What was the result?

I've worked in non-public campaigns (i.e., in organizations to which I have belonged, from student groups in college days to unions to PTA), writing and speaking. I've not been as involved in public elections, although I did do some door-to-door stuff many centuries ago (well, it seems like). I've made minor financial contributions to political campaigns (with a fifty-fifty success rate). Of course this time around Nancy and I did support a winning candidate for governor in the primary (including financial contribution -- plus lawn signs, etc.), but she lost the election.

[I once did consider running for Congress -- a long story -- 32 yrs ago -- really disliked the incumbent, considered running against him in primary, no hope of actually defeating him, more as a symbolic gesture, had some people encourage me to do it (I was active in union stuff at the time), but I decided against it because (among many reasons) I had been accepted in a doctoral program and would be moving out of the district before the primary election day -- and then, just to make this totally ironic, the incumbent was busted for income tax fraud, so -- at least in theoretical "what if" imaginings -- if I had filed for the primary, I might actually have won!]

Rhode Island election results.
  • This overwhelmingly Democrat-voting state (Republicans are almost invisible in the legislature) has once again elected a Republican Governor. Of course R.I. has the weakest governor and strongest legislature of any state, so the job is more of a "bully pulpit" than one with any real power.
  • The powerful Speaker of the House, beset by various scandals (he claims that the fact that a grand jury did not indict him is proof that he is innocent of all charges) has narrowly defeated a write-in candidate (although the results are in dispute amidst charges of election fraud). However, it appears the Democrats are replacing him as Speaker of the House. (That job is the true power center in this state.)
  • The non-binding referendum on separation of powers (i.e., changing the state constitution to balance power among executive, legislative and judicial branches) passed with three-quarters of the votes. (Two years ago it passed with a two-thirds vote, but the Speaker refused to allow any related proposals be brought up; this year public pressure was so strong that a majority of candidates have pledged support. We shall see...)
  • I'd voted Yes for all state and local questions and they all carried except for one related to infrastructure improvement at Quanset Point industrial park. I think many voters suspected (as my daughter did) that this was an attempt by the state to start work on the giant container port that everyone so strongly opposes (uh, that is, people oppose it but state officials, construction union officials, the longshoreman's union officials, and various fat-cat "developers" all support it. Every town council in our part of the state has voted overwhelmingly in opposition to the container port idea, but the state keeps trying to sneak it in. I had almost voted against that bond issue for that very reason. (I'm usually not that trusting, but both candidates for governor had come out against the megaport.)
  • Bob Healey, the Cool Moose Party candidate for lieutenant governor lost. He got nineteen percent of the vote (and even carried at least one town) but was disappointed to end up in third place.
  • As expected David Cicilline was elected mayor of Providence in an overwhelming landslide (84 % of the vote in a four-way race); his election was considered a sure thing after he won the primary in September, winning a majority of the votes and defeating four other candidates. Cicilline is half Italian, half Jewish, and openly gay. (He's fluent in Spanish, helpful for campaigning in the Latino community; also knows a bit of Italian and French -- very valuable in multi-ethnic Providence; now if only he could pick up a bit of Portuguese.)

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