Providence Mayoral Candidates: Who Failed to Vote?
Friday, March 21, 2014
State records show Harrop missed an election in 2000. Elorza missed the 2002 and 2004 elections. Raina C. Smith, Director of Communications for Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis, said voting records prior to 1996 were not included when the state went to digital records.
State records show Harrop has voted in every statewide election since 1996, with the exception of the 2000 election.
“I missed the 2000 election when I fell and was hospitalized on Election Day with a knee injury that went to surgery," said Harrop. "I was registered at home in Narragansett on Sand Hill Cove Road for one year (1995) when the home in Providence was being rehabbed and was not habitable. So I technically didn't reside in Providence – re-registered after that year. “
Harrop turned 18 in 1972 and registered in his hometown of West Warwick. He has a private psychiatry practice in Providence and is a graduate of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. His campaign has been focused on the city’s financial crisis and keeping taxes low enough for urban growth.
“I was registered to vote here and as far as I can remember voted regularly in the city before that, and was on the City Republican Committee, so had to be a registered voter to do that. I re-registered from West Warwick to Providence in 1978. As a registered Republican, I don't always have the opportunity to vote in primaries if there are no Republican primaries,” he said.
State records show Elorza voted in 2000, missed 2002 and 2004, and then voted consistently from 2006 to present.
"Yes, these records are accurate. The candidate was first eligible to vote in the 1996 election, lived in New York City briefly after graduating from college, and has voted consistently in Rhode Island since making the decision to return to serve the community he loves,” said Marisa O’Gara, Elorza’s campaign manager.
“In 2002, Jorge was a student at Harvard Law School in Cambridge. In 2004, he did not vote."
Elorza is a former Housing Court Judge who formally announced his mayoral bid with a news conference at his childhood home in the city’s West End. He graduated first in his accounting class at the University of Rhode Island and later graduated from Harvard Law School. Of his vision, he has said investing in schools, jobs and community can make Providence a world-class city with a vibrant middle class.
State records show Smiley voted in every statewide election since 2006, including a mail ballot in the 2008 election. His camp said Smiley, who turned 18 in 1997, was registered to vote in Illinois prior to 2006.
“These [state] records are accurate. Brett has voted in every primary and general election for which he's been eligible in Providence,” said Josh Block of the Smiley Campaign.
Smiley is a graduate of DePaul University, where he received a finance degree and an M.B.A. He lives on the Eastside of Providence with his husband Jim DeRentis, a real estate broker and former community banker.
"While most teenagers counted the days until they could get a driver’s license, I was always counting the days until I could vote,” Smiley said.
“The right to express your opinion about who should be making decisions that affect our lives every day is something that never should be taken for granted. That’s why I never miss an opportunity to cast my vote in all local, state and national elections."
Smiley recently unveiled a proposal to create an Office of Strategic Partnerships (OSP) in Providence in order to create and promote public-private partnerships between the city, private foundations and the vibrant non-profit sector. He cited the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy’s plan to revitalize Kennedy Plaza as an example of the type of public-private partnership that will be facilitated by the OSP.
State records show Adrain has been a consistent voter since 1996. Adrain – who became eligible to vote in 1972 – has lived in Smithfield and Kingston, as well as Providence.
“While working for AT&T Lorne lived in New Jersey, Georgia and Connecticut. While at business school and for several years afterwards, [he] lived in Massachusetts,” said Steve Gerencser, Adrain’s campaign manager.
Adrain announced his campaign at the Friendship Cafe, operated by the Amos House shelter, because he believed it was a sign of his commitment to the city’s people. He supports in-state tuition children of undocumented immigrants and was formerly Chairman of the Board of Governors for Higher Education.
A graduate of Harvard Business School, Adrain is married to author Ann Hood of West Warwick. He is managing director of the financial advisory firm Ballentine Partners in Waltham, Mass.
The Providence City Council President became eligible to vote in 1975. State election records show he has been a consistent voter since 1996.
“Absent a family or professional emergency, Michael has been a consistent voter at the ballot box,” said Liz White, Solomon’s campaign manager.
A lifelong city resident, Solomon owns and operates Wes’ Rib House and Anthony’s Drug Store. He’s the son of former Rhode Island General Treasurer and Gubernatorial Candidate Anthony Solomon, and has the distinction of being the candidate with the biggest campaign war chest and the most name recognition.
Solomon recently received the endorsement of Providence Ward 10 City Councilman Luis Aponte.
Not a Pell bombshell
“Missing voting opportunities is not exactly a great credential for a candidate since he seems hypocritical urging voters to get to the polls when he had a lackadaisical history himself but the damage is far less than it is for Clay Pell,” said former Attorney General and political expert Arlene Violet.
“[Pell’s] chronic failure could be interpreted as disinterest and creates a question as to how invested he really is in Rhode Island or is he just a self-promoting egotist? Running for governor elevates this debate and raises the forgetful factor anew when joined with the missing car incidences thereby creating a side issue the other candidates don't have.”
Political Scientist Darrell West of the Brookings Institution agrees the problem is worse for Pell than it is for these Mayoral candidates, adding that candidates who missed several elections have to explain why they missed those votes.
“People are more understanding if the candidates have been involved in the political process before and have a track record of civic engagement. This issue is more of a problem for Clay Pell than the mayoral candidates because he is coming from out of state and hasn’t been involved in Rhode Island issues,” West said.
“The Providence aspirants have been around for some time and been engaged in city and state issues.”
Will former Providence Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci Jr. take another shot at City Hall? Insiders say yes, but that’s irrelevant until Cianci actually announces.
State voting records for Cianci only go back to 2008, showing he has voted in every election since that year. The Providence Board of Canvassers said Cianci was removed from the list when he was incarcerated in 2002 and served four years in federal prison. (Cianci was convicted for racketeering conspiracy and was forced by law to resign as mayor after sentencing.) It is unlikely that one of the most recognizable names in Providence politics missed voting, especially since he held office for over 21 years.
Earlier this year, Cianci spoke to GoLocalProv about the lack of interest and familiar faces in the Providence Mayoral race. At that time, former Mayor Joseph R. Paolino, Jr. said Solomon was one of the best council presidents the city has ever had.
"He knows how to do things. But Buddy is on a whole different level," Paolino said.
Both West and Violet agreed. Violet, however, added some historical relevance.
“Cianci announced at the last minute in 1990, leaving WHJJ during his show to sign up. I know, since I substituted for him as he left the radio station … [former] News Director John Carpillio was expecting this,” Violet said.
“I would look for him to do exactly the same thing. I think he will run since in his mind it is his way to trump his enemies, especially Dennis Aiken and the feds.”
“All bets are off if Buddy Cianci runs,” West said.
“He would transform the race and garner a huge amount of media attention. He has a strong base so the question is who will emerge as the alternative? Crowded fields often winnow to two or three major candidates.”
Related Slideshow: Rhode Island’s Highest Paid Mayors and Managers
The Rhode Island Department of Revenue's Office of Local Government Assistance, for the past 23 years, has conducted an "annual salary survey" of municipal positions in the state.
Below are the salaries reported for chief executives -- Mayors or Town Managers ranked by municipalities (with the position) in 2012, from lowest to highest. According to the survey, the amount "does not include fringe benefit data."
Positions appointed are indicated with an (A); positions elected are marked with an (E).
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