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Doherty vs. Cicilline: A Contrast in Character

Thursday, May 19, 2011

 

As retired RI State Police Colonel Brendan Doherty launched an early bid for Congress in the First District last week, certain critics came out quickly to note the obstacles he may face in the campaign. The first and perhaps most obvious is that, in announcing as a Republican, he is most likely facing a Republican primary against John Loughlin, who came within a few points of stopping David Cicilline from winning the seat last fall.

Loughlin has stated he fully intends to run again. As a lifelong Army reservist, he was tapped for a new six-month tour of duty in Iraq and has just very recently departed. Though he should be highly commended for his commitment to military service, it remains to be seen if that assignment may ultimately affect his earlier decision to make a second run at the seat. Only time will tell but it would be a shame for the state GOP if these two competent and high quality candidates have to face off against each other before one of them gets to the real opponent, the current Congressman, David Cicilline.

Should circumstances emerge making Doherty the chief Republican candidate, it is difficult to overstate the vivid contrast in character between the Colonel and Congressman Cicilline.

Colonel Doherty, by all accounts, served with great distinction in an unblemished career on the State Police force which took him to the very top leadership post. Those who may question his experience with public policy issues that would come with a Congressional seat are underestimating both the man and the mandate that contemporary chief law enforcement officials carry out.

Holding the top leadership post of the state police force means intersecting with some of the most challenging public policy questions facing us today. Immigration law and all that it encompasses is only one of them. Corrupt use of government funds, financial fraud schemes, and internet fraud and cyber crimes, are just a few of the fiscal and government related areas which someone of Colonel Doherty’s stature has overseen.

His leadership of the numerous investigation successes of the state police stands in stark contrast to the disastrous municipal management of the former Cicilline administration. The fiscal meltdown of Providence is an unfolding fiasco from which Cicilline will not be able to run nor hide.

But what is coming more clearly into view in recent weeks beyond the former Administration’s budget blunders, is the character—or lack thereof—of David Cicilline in responding to the rising chorus of questions. His ongoing determination to blame first, the state’s aid cuts; then, his own city Auditor, certain Council members and fiscal adviser Gary Sasse; then, Republicans in Congress, conveys a desperate mission to shift focus away from own incompetent decisions and actions.

Contrast that with Doherty’s demeanor and actions last winter as he conveyed a strong difference of opinion over an immigration policy favored by Providence law enforcement and Governor Chafee. Doherty vehemently disagreed with Providence seeking to opt out of the Secure Communities Program being implemented statewide by Attorney General Peter Kilmartin. The program, Doherty argued, is aimed at determining the legal status only of those suspected of criminal behavior and cannot be effective in a tiny state if it is ignored in the state’s largest city. He called it irresponsible and misguided thinking by the new Providence Commissioner of Public Safety Stephen Pare and he issued a sharp statement to that effect. Days later he reportedly had a face to face discussion, initiated by Chafee, over his very public stand on it.

However, at no time did the very clear depth of his disagreement over the policy become a personal, vindictive style attack. He conveyed his clearly strong convictions on what is a very weighty policy in a highly principled way and ultimately decided that it would not be the best future course for him to continue serving as Colonel. He stepped down in a professional, respectful way and did not issue insults or blame as he did so.

His campaign is smart to highlight uncommon integrity as a central theme of his candidacy. It is a quality he exudes and one which the public is desperately searching for as problems multiply both statewide and across the nation.

In terms of the incumbent, many “I” words come to mind. Incompetent. Insincere. Indifferent (to the fiscal hurricane he has unleashed on Providence).

Integrity—sure isn’t one of them.

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Donna Perry is a Communications Consultant to RISC , RI Statewide Coalition www.statewidecoalition.com
 

 

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