Questions Over Candidate’s Residence, Voting History Arise in North Providence

Monday, July 11, 2016


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Bill Deware is challenging Rep. William O'Brien in North Providence in the Democratic primary.

A candidate running for the Rhode Island House of Representatives in North Providence has claimed a homestead exemption at his North Providence address for the past eight years — but voting records show that he voted in Johnston between 2006 and 2012. 

Tax records show that Democrat Bill Deware, who is running against Democratic incumbent William O’Brien in District 54, has had a property in his name in North Providence where he has gotten a homestead exemption since 2008.

Voting records show however that Deware voted in Johnston between 2006 and 2012, and only began voting in North Providence in 2014.  

A homestead exemption is reserved for those homeowners that live on the premises. In 2010, GoLocal reported that then-gubernatorial candidate Lincoln Chafee had 11 motor vehicles registered in Exeter, a homestead exemption in Providence, and a declaration of residency in Warwick —which Operation Clean Government deemed “not appropriate.

"When I first moved to North Providence at the end of 2009 I did what I think a lot of Rhode Islanders do; I forgot to change my voter registration. Despite living in the district in North Providence I was still voting in Johnston. My wife made the switch but I just never thought about it. My family was going through a lot with my daughter's conditions and it just slipped through the cracks. I wasn't involved in politics and never had any intention of running so I wasn't doing it out of any nefarious reason," wrote Deware in an email on Sunday night. "I had no reason to want to vote more in Johnston than North Providence and certainly didn't vote twice or anything crazy like that. I just forgot to switch and was used to going to the same place as always to vote."

Latest in Residency Controversies - and Political

The emergence of the North Providence revelations come following Republican Party Chair Brandon Bell filing an ethics complaint against Representative John Carnevale, after a WPRI investigation which questioned if Carnevale in fact lived in Providence.  The complaint is based on where Carnevale is registered to vote. 

Meanwhile, the Progressive Democrats have been after incumbent O’Brien, filing an ethics complaint in June alleging that O’Brien failed to submit required financial disclosure forms. 

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Rep. O'Brien

Following the complaint being filed, O’Brien responded with the following:

“[When] asked why I had not filed financial disclosure forms for the years that proceeded my campaigns for state representative in 2010 and 2012, I filed the reports that afternoon out of an abundance of caution. They disclose what folks in North Providence already know: I am Providence public school teacher with a house and a mortgage. It is unfortunate that my opponent, Bill Deware, and the Progressive caucus' chairman Sam Bell resort to petty politics while I want to talk about who is most qualified to represent the hard working families in North Providence. They should debate issues instead of piddle around,” said O’Brien.

Bell then fired back. 

“I find it unfortunate that, instead of simply admitting wrongdoing, O'Brien chose to belittle the importance of Ethics Commission reports, even calling them 'petty politics.' Especially in the wake of the Gallison scandal, it is deeply troubling that the conservative establishment still doesn't take ethics seriously,” said Bell. “Furthermore, I find O'Brien's comment that he filed the reports 'out of an abundance of caution' disturbing. Is he implying that he thinks he didn't have to file them?”

After filing his amended returns, O'Brien currently is in full compliance with the ethics commission.  The case was resolved through an informal resolution for a $100 civil penalty.


Related Slideshow: Races to Watch in 2016 - RI Progressive Democrats

Sam Bell, State Director for the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats, ran through a list of races to watch at the GA in 2016. Bell noted that as of June 1, Progressive Dems had yet to make endorsements.  "This is just my take and analysis of these races," said Bell. 

Bell noted other races as well that weren't on the list. 

"Julie Casimiro, because of her positions on certain labor issues and some of her past work on education, but we view her as a real Democrat, we are certainly cheering her on, and some of our members may well help her out," said Bell, who noted it was similar for another Democrat. "Same for Lisa Tomasso, we certainly feel she is the much preferable candidate (to Republican Sherry) Roberts."

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1. House District 60

Incumbent: Rep. David Coughlin (D)

Challenger: David Norton (D)


"[Coughlin] is facing a strong challenger in Norton. I think the [PawSox] stadium issue really resonated with people in Pawtucket, and the problem with the way politics works in RI. Pawtucket has a unique understanding of that, and Coughlin is out of step with the district and vulnerable," said Bell. 

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2. House District 54

Incumbent: Rep. William O'Brien (D)

Challenger: Bill Deware (D)

North Providence

"Bill's the head of the Rhode Island Radiologist Association, he's been active in UNAP. O'Brien has painted himself as an established politician. He wanted to lower the corporate income tax. On economic issues he's out of step with the middle class in his district," said Bell. 

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3. House District 67

Incumbent: Rep. Jan Malik (D)

Challenger: Jason Knight (D)

Barrington, Warren

"Malik has been extremely ideologically conservative, with an 'A plus' rating from the NRA. He voted against marriage equality and his district isn't extremely right wing -- it's very liberal on social issues. And Warren is a place where you saw two successful progressive town council primaries last cycle, knocking out established [Democrats]," said Bell. 

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4. House District 3

Incumbent: Rep. Thomas Palangio (D)

Challenger: Moira Walsh (D)


Walsh, a Classical High School and Rhode Island College Grad, who has been an organizer for Jobs with Justice, is challenging Pelangio on Smith Hill.

Pelangio served as a State Rep from 1992-2002; he was elected again in 2012 and then again in 2014.

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5. House District 69

Incumbent: Open (after Ray Gallison stepped down)

Challenger: Susan Donovan (D)


"The machine has still yet to put up someone to replace Gallison. People are really excited about change, especially with what happened there.  I'd be surprised if leadership even wants to go in there," said Bell. 

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6. House District 25

Incumbent: Rep. Jared Nunes (D)

Challenger: Kathleen Decker (D)

Coventry, West Warwick

"There's two races in West Warwick, and Nunes is one of them. Remember, he proposed "tolls everywhere"," said Bell, referencing his assessment of Nunes public-private funding proposal for roads. 

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7. House District 27

Incumbent: Rep. Pat Serpa (D)

Challenger: Nicholas Delmenico (D)

Warwick, West Warwick, Coventry

"Serpa just canceled the hearings on 38 Studios. West Warwick is a community that's been damaged by machine politics," said Bell. 

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8. House District 22

Incumbent: Joseph Solomon, Jr. (D)

Challenger: Jennifer Siciliano (D)


"She jumped in last minute to run against Solomon again -- and again, he is someone who's endorsed by the NRA. I think he's out of step with the party's core values, and it's a community that knows we need change," said Bell.

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9. House District 24

Incumbent: Rep. Joe Trillo (R)

Challenger: Evan Shanley (D)


"Yes, Trillo is a Republican, he's Trump's guy here. But he's tied to the political establishment. That's the way the establishment works," said Bell.

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10. House District 72

Incumbent: Rep. Dan Reilly (R)

Challenger: Linda Finn (D)

Middletown, Portsmouth

"Finn's running again against Reilly, who it's no secret is dealing with major legal issues with his family. He's vulnerable," said Bell. 

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11. House District 39

Incumbent: Justin Price (R)

Challenger: Larry Valencia (D)

Hopkinton, Exeter, Richmond

Valencia ran and lost in 2008, won in 2010 and 2012, and was beaten by Price in 2014. 

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12. Senate District 11

Incumbent: Sen. John Pagliarini, Jr. (R)

Challenger: James Seveney (D)

Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton

"I like this rematch. Especially in a Presidential year, where the Republicans will have to defend Trump," said Bell. 

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13. Senate District 34

Incumbent: Sen. Elaine Morgan (R)

Challenger: Catherine Cool Rumsey (D)

Charles, Exeter, Hopkington, Richmond, West Greenwich

"Morgan beat Rumsey in 2014, in a year that the state's Democratic candidate, Gina Raimondo, narrowly carried the race. It was uniquely bad for down ballot races (for the Dems). Now with Trump at the top of the ticket for the Rs, it will be hard for Morgan," said Bell. 

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14. Senate District 21

Incumbent: Sen. Nick Kettle (R)

Challenger: Margaux Morisseau (D)


Progressive Morisseau lost to Kettle in 2014 and is making another run at the seat in 2016. 

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15. Senate District 7

Incumbent: Sen. Frank Ciccone (D)

Challenger: Doris De Los Santos (D)

Providence, North Providence

De Los Santos is making another run at the seat held by Ciccone since 2002; she ran unsuccessfully in 2014. 


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