Party Games in “Non-Partisan” Tiverton
Back in 2007, I argued against non-partisan elections in Tiverton. Those who disagreed took a very community-oriented view:
ARGUING AGAINST asking Tiverton voters whether they’d like to return to partisan elections after one cycle of nonpartisanism, Charter Review Commission member Frank “Richard” Joslin made two points that have the ring of Rhode Islandry: First, that residents who actually vote (or get involved) know who belongs to what party, and second, that Joslin’s fellow members of the Tiverton Democratic Committee are so ideologically diverse as to make party labels of negligible value. At the previous meeting, Commissioner Frank Marshall had asserted that everybody elected to local office is there simply to work hard and do right by the town.
Thus do Rhode Islanders like to believe about themselves. Everybody who cares knows, so inside information is by definition public, and everybody votes for the person, not the party, because the individuals are so independent and well intentioned.
That’s all well and good, and to large extent true. But party isn’t nothing; otherwise, there would cease to be a Tiverton Democratic Committee.
I raise the debate now because it came to light in the comments of my liveblog from Monday night’s Town Council meeting that the lone Republican in Tiverton’s delegation to the State House, Dan Gordon, was not informed that his peers would be briefing the local governing body. In fact, the same thing happened at the last regular School Committee meeting.
There are certainly legitimate reasons that the relevant clerks for the municipal government and the school department did not contact the only non-incumbent elected representative that Tiverton has sent to the General Assembly for this session. His contact information might not have been readily at hand or accurate. And the Democrat senators and representative might have merely forgotten to mention the meetings, even after the Republican’s absence at the School Committee meeting.
It is conspicuous, though, that Rep. Jay Edwards is a member of the Democrat committee… as is Town Clerk Nancy Mello… as are three of the five School Committee members… as is, I believe, the Democrat candidate whom Gordon defeated in the last election. As Joslin once said, everybody knows who belongs to what party, especially those who continue to operate as members thereof.