Rhody Politics at the Local Level: Use Their Fairness Against Them
To be clear, I don’t speak for Tiverton Citizens for Change with what follows (or, really, in any sanctioned sense). However, I do have some insight into the group’s candidate-endorsement process, which may be summarized with two words: fair and open.
Every candidate received a questionnaire specific to the position that he or she sought, and a volunteer committee (of which I was a member) considered the answers, conducted interviews when needed, and spent long hours debating the merits of each candidate individually and as part of a broader strategy for improving municipal government. Wanting ideas, knowledge, and disposition to be of substantial import, we didn’t employ a litmus test against incumbents and ended up extending endorsements to three of them.
Two of those three declined politely and took the opportunity to run to the Providence Journal’s Gina Macris to provide a front page story for the East Bay section of the paper:
The TCC has made accusations without having all the facts, [School Committee Chairwoman Denise DeMedeiros] said.
And she said she doesn’t like what she calls the negativity of some TCC members, alluding to letters to a local newspaper attacking the incumbent leadership of the Town Council and the Budget Committee. …
The TCC has suggested that the School Committee failed to fully inform the community about the financial impact of the school bonds before voters approved an overhaul of all three elementary schools in 2004.
But deMedeiros said “a lot of these people didn’t even live in this town when this campaign was going on.”
Yup, we regular citizens simply don’t have all those facts that make it palatable to drive our neighbors out of town with taxes. I further am sorry, I must say, to see Ms. DeMedeiros hop on Town Council President Louise Durfee’s nativist campaign wagon.
Macris also gave some running room for (essentially) a free attack ad to two school committee candidates who might be termed as “on the other side” from TCC. By contrast, absent from the piece was any word from actual members of the group — most notably member and school committee candidate Danielle Coulter. One would think that a professional journalist would have considered Danielle’s two cents to be a crucial component of the article.
If, however, Ms. Macris intends to extend her coverage beyond joint statements issued by candidates Carol Herrmann and Deborah Pallasch, I’d be happy to respond to this:
“Our top priority as School Committee members will be to provide a high quality public education to all students with the limited dollars available to us,” they said.
I’d advise voters to be wary that past evidence (particularly from the last Financial Town Meeting) suggests that the pair’s actual top priority will be to make those dollars a little less limited. For that reason, I still intend to vote for DeMedeiros and Black… even if I’ll be careful never to turn my back on them.