The Herald’s guide to the 2006 general election

By , and
Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Students who are at least 18 years of age and registered to vote in Rhode Island are eligible to vote in today’s general election. Voters must have registered at least 30 days prior to Election Day to cast ballots for local races. If registered less than 30 days before Election Day, they are eligible to cast a limited ballot in U.S. Senate and House races. As of Oct. 20, 677 Brown students were registered to vote at their University addresses at 75 Waterman St., according to the secretary of state’s office – but that figure does not take into account those students registered at off-campus addresses.

There are more than 500 polling places in Rhode Island, most of which open at 7 a.m. All polling places close at 9 p.m., but any voter who is in line at a polling booth by that time is eligible to cast a ballot.

Voter information, including sample ballots and where to vote, is available at www.state.ri.us/vic.

Ward 1 polling placesDist. 1: Vartan Gregorian School, 421 Wickenden St.Dist. 2: Fox Point Boys and Girls Club, 90 Ives St.Dist. 3, 7: The Governors, 125 Governor St.Dist. 4: Salvation Army, 201 Pitman St.Dist. 5: Ladder 8, 223 Brook St.Dist. 6: Brown University Salomon Center, Main Green

U.S. SENATELincoln Chafee ’75Incumbent Sen. Lincoln Chafee ’75, R-R.I., graduated with a degree in classics from Brown and later attended Montana State University. The son of deceased Rhode Island Sen. John Chafee, Lincoln Chafee has campaigned on a platform of New England “moderate Republicanism” and environmentalism.

The Rhode Island Senate race has been the focus of national attention because of its potential role in a Democratic takeover of the Senate.

Sheldon Whitehouse, Chafee’s Democratic challenger, has questioned the incumbent senator’s stance on the Iraq war, connecting him to the Republican administration of President George W. Bush. In response to these associations, Chafee has pointed to his 2003 vote against authorizing the use of force in Iraq that led to war. He was the sole Republican to cast a “no” vote on the war.

As a member of the U. S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Chafee has maintained that he has actively expressed his dissatisfaction with the war and has a better chance at bringing the conflict to an end than his opponent.

In the Sept. 12 Republican primary, Chafee faced skilled campaigner and conservative Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey, who will provide telecast political analysis of tonight’s returns on Fox News Channel 12. In a race that was tight until the day of the primary, Chafee won by a margin of 8 percent, 54 to 46.

Well-known members of the national Republican Party, including First Lady Laura Bush and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have campaigned in Rhode Island on Chafee’s behalf. The incumbent senator has been endorsed by the Providence Journal, the Sierra Club and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon Whitehouse, Democratic Senate candidate and former Rhode Island attorney general, ran a highly visible yet unsuccessful primary campaign for governor in 2002.

Whitehouse initially faced a serious Democratic challenger in Secretary of State Matt Brown, but Brown’s campaign folded in April because of campaign finance issues and a shortage of donations.

Chafee has criticized Whitehouse for two aspects of his record as attorney general: his apparent friendship with disgraced former Providence Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci Jr. and his mishandling of corruption at Roger Williams Medical Center.

With campaign slogans such as, “Finally, a Whitehouse in Washington you can trust,” Whitehouse has run a nationally focused Senate campaign, concentrating on the potential Democratic takeover of Senate leadership.

He has capitalized on dissatisfaction with the Iraq war and campaigned against what he has characterized as the warmongering Republican administration. Bush’s approval rating is lowest in Rhode Island.

Whitehouse is endorsed by most town Democratic committees in the state, the Providence Phoenix and the Portuguese American Citizens Committee.

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1Patrick KennedyNow serving his 12th year in the U.S. House of Representatives at 39 years of age, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., has spent over one-third of his life in Congress.

After an early-morning car crash into a U.S. Capitol security barrier earlier this year, Kennedy pled guilty to driving under the influence of prescription drugs. He admitted publicly to and entered treatment for alcohol and prescription drug addictions.

Since his release from rehab, Kennedy’s re-election campaign has largely taken the form of a heartfelt apology to voters and a re-avowing of his commitment to his job as a congressman and advocate for mental health issues.

Kennedy has also stressed the importance of Democratic control of the House.

Kennedy’s endorsements include the Providence Journal, Providence Business News, the Rhode Island AFL-CIO and the Sierra Club.

Jonathan ScottJonathan Scott, a former group home counselor and professional sailboat racer, is a self-acknowledged long shot in his challenge to the incumbent Kennedy for the District 1 House seat.

Scott’s campaign has focused on reconnecting politics to the common man, though he says it has been frustrated because of his opponent’s bouts with mental illness.

“It is somewhat regretful that Congressman Kennedy has chosen to put his personal problems at the forefront of his campaign yet again,” Scott wrote in a message on his campaign Web site. “It seems that … if we didn’t speak of him in those terms, we wouldn’t speak of him at all.”

In an Oct. 28 debate, Scott advocated for a national health care plan modeled after the Federal Employees Health Benefits program that is driven by consumer choices.

Scott has received the endorsement of the Newport Daily News.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNORElizabeth Roberts ’78State Sen. Elizabeth Roberts ’78, D-District 28, promises to reform Rhode Island’s health care system if elected lieutenant governor, a challenge she has already spent her five terms in the State Senate grappling with. Roberts was largely responsible for the reforms mandated for health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield three years ago. More recently she helped pass a package of bills aimed at increasing the affordability of health care for small businesses.

Roberts also has a plan to improve long-term care, which is the jurisdiction of the lieutenant governor.

In the area of emergency preparedness, a focus of her opponent, Roberts seeks to implement “coordinated regional emergency management,” which would involve cooperation between neighboring states and institutions like hospitals in the event of an emergency.

Roberts believes the state’s economy would benefit greatly from expanding the biomedical industry. “We have real potential to be involved in stem cell research nationally,” she told The Herald.

Reginald CentracchioReginald Centracchio retired as adjutant general of the Rhode Island National Guard last year after 48 years of military service, having enlisted at the age of 17.

Ten of his 40 years of service were in the executive branch, and he has worked with nine different governors over the course of his career, providing him with what he describes as excellent preparation to be lieutenant governor. “I know what lieutenant governors are supposed to do,” he said in an interview with The Herald.

Throughout his campaign Centracchio has emphasized the importance of strengthening homeland security here in Rhode Island. “After all is said and done, if you don’t have a strong capability to deal with homeland security and emergency management, everything else is for naught,” he said.

Centracchio envisions Rhode Island as a leader in port security, citing Narragansett Bay, Brown and the University of Rhode Island as relevant resources.

Centracchio supports greater state support for home- and community-based long-term care, which he says will provide more choices for seniors and their families and cut the cost of long-term care by half.

Robert Healey Jr.Robert Healey Jr. promises to eliminate his own office if elected.

Healey is running as a self-identified member of the Cool Moose Party.

According to Healey, the sole constitutional and statutory duty of the lieutenant governor in Rhode Island is to be prepared to take over in case of the governor’s death. Healey said that if elected, he will eliminate the office “de facto” by refusing to take a salary or hire a staff, which would reduce the state’s budget by $1 million. He then would introduce a constitutional amendment to eliminate the office, which would be voted on in a general election.

SECRETARY OF STATEA. Ralph MollisAs mayor of North Providence for the last 10 years, A. Ralph Mollis has improved public education, balanced the town budget and “made North Providence a great place to live again,” he said in an interview with The Herald.

His current job, which includes ensuring smooth elections and maintaining a state-of-the-art library, has prepared him well to be secretary of state, Mollis said.

Mollis is an outspoken advocate of property tax relief. He said although “as secretary of state my responsibilities are obviously outside the realm of property tax relief,” he will continue to campaign to change the way Rhode Island’s schools are funded. The education budget’s reliance on property tax revenues is the primary reason why property taxes in the state are currently so high, he said.

Mollis hopes to accomplish this in part by supporting businesses in Rhode Island. He said though about 8,000 new businesses open in the state each year, approximately 40 percent eventually fail. “If I can increase the success rate of businesses,” he said, “that would be one small way of providing statewide tax relief.”

He plans to do this by reforming the corporation division of the secretary of state’s office in order to make it easier to open a business. He also hopes to develop an outreach program to improve the relationship between the state and the business community.

Mollis said if elected, he would “make it easier for people to vote” by having real estate agents register voters when they purchase new residences. He also proposes requiring identification from voters to “ensure the integrity of the election.”

Sue StenhouseOf the six women who have held a major office in Rhode Island, three were secretary of state. Sue Stenhouse, currently a Warwick City Councilwoman and deputy director of community relations for Gov. Don Carcieri ’65, is running for the office as a Republican.

Stenhouse’s five-point plan to encourage voter participation and turnout includes creating a pilot program in Warwick to test the use of voter identification cards and expanding voting hours. The pilot program would require a constitutional amendment to be passed by voters. The other components of Stenhouse’s plan are to place a representative from the secretary of state’s office on the Board of Elections, establish an earlier primary date and increase matching funds for candidates seeking public financing.

Early in her campaign, Stenhouse pledged that if elected, she would support voter initiative, a mechanism to allow citizens to propose laws or amendments to the state constitution.

Stenhouse plans to conduct a comprehensive audit of all the forms, deadlines and information required to start up or conduct business in Rhode Island to facilitate the process for business owners and entrepreneurs. She also plans to create a task force to make recommendations on streamlining the operations and regulations of the secretary of state’s office.

GENERAL TREASURERFrank CaprioFrank Caprio, a state senator representing District 5, has mounted a strong campaign considering he faced little competition in either the Democratic primary or general race. Caprio, a practicing corporate lawyer, is running to replace current Democratic General Treasurer Paul Tavares, who must step down from the office due to term limits.

Caprio’s campaign has been noted for its technological sophistication, including a user-friendly Web site with a “Candidate Internet TV Channel” featuring video of Caprio talking about his political beliefs.

A graduate of Harvard University and son of longtime Rhode Island Judge Frank Caprio, the younger Caprio first served as a state representative for District 14 while still a student at Suffolk Law School.

Caprio has received endorsements from the Providence Journal, the East Side Monthly and the R.I. Latino Political Action committee.

Andrew LyonAndrew Lyon, a second-time Republican candidate for general treasurer, is running on his 17 years of experience in banking and finance and against what he characterizes as a Democratic dominance of state government.

Lyon previously ran for general treasurer in 2002 and lost, capturing 28 percent of the vote.

“These politically powerful few have cast a dark cloud over Rhode Island state government and created a financial crisis which will only worsen if change is not made now,” Lyon wrote on his campaign Web site.

Lyon was appointed to the board of the Rhode Island Industrial Facilities Corporation last year by Carcieri.

Lyon has been endorsed by the Rhode Island GOP.

ATTORNEY GENERALPatrick LynchThe likely re-election of current Attorney General Patrick Lynch ’87 has come into question amid allegations of dishonesty regarding Lynch’s involvement in the plea bargain of Michael and Jeffrey Derderian, owners of the Station nightclub, where a 2003 fire killed 100 people.

Lynch, a Democrat, had said publicly he would not accept sentences that did not include jail time for both Derderian brothers. A defense attorney for the brothers released e-mails that suggested Lynch was involved in the plea bargain, though Lynch denies any involvement.

Lynch’s campaign has focused on the two main cases of his first term as attorney general: the Station fire trial and his prosecution of lead paint manufacturers. Lynch has pointed to the Station prosecution as a symbol of his success.

Lynch was one of the first attorney generals to file suits against lead paint-producing companies. Rhode Island’s suit against DuPont ended in the payment of a $12 million settlement to the Children’s Health Forum, though Lynch has since been criticized for accepting over $4,000 in campaign contributions from DuPont lawyers and lobbyists.

Lynch has received endorsements from 21 labor unions within Rhode Island.

Bill HarschBill Harsch, a Providence-based lawyer, former legal adviser to former President Jimmy Carter and 2002 Independent candidate for attorney general, is competing in a close race with incumbent Lynch.

Harsch told The Herald he will disaffiliate from the Republican Party if elected, and he has refused to take donations from the state or national Republican parties. A former Democrat and Independent, Harsch said he is not running on the Democratic ticket because Democrats are the party of “the insiders” in Rhode Island.

Harsch has called his opponent one of those political insiders and for that reason maintains that Lynch is not suited for the power granted to the attorney general’s office.

Harsch has received endorsements from the East Side Monthly and the Providence Business News.

Local races

MAYORDavid Cicilline ’83Mayor David Cicilline ’83 has said his most important goal during his first term was to “restore honesty and integrity to city government.” He counts better fiscal practices, increased accountability and renewed public confidence in local government among his successes in that area.

Public confidence has created a “trust dividend,” Cicilline said, attracting $3 billion worth of investment since he became mayor. Cicilline said he personally persuaded GTECH to build its new headquarters in downtown Providence.

New condo towers and office buildings clearly manifest development downtown, but “some of the most exciting stuff is the housing happening in the neighborhoods,” he said. Furthermore, Providence’s tax base has grown for two years in a row for the first time in over a decade.

Cicilline’s administration recently unveiled a plan to improve Providence public schools and has already implemented an after-school program used by “hundreds of middle school students who used to just go home unsupervised,” the mayor said.

Early in his term Cicilline negotiated an agreement with the four private colleges and universities in Providence under which each of the property tax-exempt institutions makes payments in lieu of taxes to the city and pays a regularly declining property tax on new purchases for 15 years after they are acquired.

Cicilline said his administration has done everything it can to streamline government in the face of budget shortfalls, including cutting over 400 city jobs and taking advantage of new technologies to maximize municipal resources.

Daniel HarropRepublican Daniel Harrop ’76 MD’79 is a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Brown and practicing psychiatrist.

Harrop touts his administrative experience as his main qualification for the mayor’s job. “A city is essentially a much larger form of administration,” he said.

Harrop is less than pleased with Cicilline’s accomplishments thus far as mayor. “Most of the development going on downtown has been state-brokered,” Harrop said, citing the renovation of the Masonic Temple and relocation of the GTECH headquarters as two examples.

Harrop said the city should work with developers during the re-zoning process to build more affordable housing. “Providence made a big mistake under the mayor’s regime of basically rezoning things before the major neighborhood charrettes,” Harrop said. He added that he “would be against further tax credits for developers.”

At a debate with the mayor, Harrop criticized Cicilline for the poor performance of Providence’s public education system. “He is responsible directly for the state of the schools in this city,” Harrop said, pointing out that Providence is one of few cities where the mayor appoints the school board directly and that Cicilline has had four years in office to improve the schools.

Every middle school in the city has failed, and 29 percent of the city’s schools are classified as poorly performing under federal criteria, Harrop said.

Harrop calls for a speedy transition to a K-8 system, replacing old school buildings with smaller schools, lifting the cap on charter schools and giving principals more jurisdiction over their personnel.

Harrop also criticized the mayor’s payment in lieu of taxes agreement with the universities, calling it a “cop-out” at the debate.

The mayor has no plan to cover the pension deficit or stabilize the city budget or the tax rate, Harrop said, pointing out that taxes have increased by almost 15 percent in the last four years.

STATE SENATE DISTRICT 3Rhoda Perry P’91Having represented District 3 for the past 16 years, incumbent State Senator and Democrat Rhoda Perry P’91 is running for re-election in this year’s general election.

Perry is a former health care administrator for Planned Parenthood and has made health care issues a focus during her time in the General Assembly. She chairs the Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee and supports abortion rights and marriage equality.

Perry has introduced a same-sex marriage equality bill at the General Assembly every year since 2004 and sponsored a 2005 bill extending to domestic partners death benefits for police and firefighters killed in the line of duty. She also sponsored a 2006 bill exempting state employees from taxes on health and other insurance payments for their domestic partners.

Elaina GoldsteinElaina Goldstein is running as a self-described Independent on the Republican ticket and began her career in government services working for Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-Vt.

For the last six years, Goldstein has worked as a clinical research professor at the University of Rhode Island’s College of Pharmacy through the state’s Department of Human Services, where she focuses on health care and disability issues.

Goldstein said her motivation for running is her skill at addressing “everybody’s issues.”

“That’s what I learned working for Jim Jeffords,” Goldstein said. “Everybody would come to you to talk because you were sort of in the middle – that’s what discourse is, that’s what democracy is all about. Somehow, we lost that.”

If elected, Goldstein has vowed to increase state government transparency and appoint a personal advisory board composed of constituents.

“Rhoda Perry said she doesn’t have time to read all the pieces of legislation (that come before the General Assembly) – she depends on colleagues she trusts to tell her what to do and how to vote. It’s honest, and I think a lot of (elected officials) do that, but it’s not what you should do,” Goldstein said.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT 3Edith AjelloDemocrat and incumbent Dist. 3 Rep. Edith Ajello is running unopposed in today’s election.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT 2David SegalOutgoing Ward 1 City Councilman David Segal is running unopposed in today’s election. He won the Democratic primary earlier this fall by a margin of 73 to 27 percent against native Fox Pointer Richard Pacheco.

CITY COUNCIL WARD 1Seth YurdinThe most important issues of Democrat Seth Yurdin’s campaign for the Ward 1 City Council seat have been development, education and the environment.

If elected, Yurdin said he will actively represent the interests of the Fox Point neighborhood as Providence continues to develop, including the relocation of Interstate 195 and continuing efforts to increase the tax base.

“I’m running for the council seat in part because I don’t want to see uncontrolled growth,” Yurdin said.

Yurdin’s plans to improve education are related to economic growth. Four out of five children in Providence schools are living at poverty level, according to Yurdin. Providing jobs, affordable housing and education and job training for parents will improve these children’s performance in school, he said. He also believes it is important to create strong after-school programs and involve parents in their children’s education.

Ward 1 encompasses the Fox Point neighborhood and some of College Hill, including more than half of Brown’s campus. All students registered to vote with their University mailing addresses at 75 Waterman St. are eligible to vote in Ward 1.

Regarding relations between the University and the neighborhood, Yurdin stresses the importance of strengthening the positive connections between the student population and local citizens through activities such as volunteering and donating computers to schools.

Yurdin touts his previous experience as a community organizer, including his work running a shelter for Hurricane Katrina victims in Mississippi and organizing lawyers in Florida to defend voter rights in the aftermath of the 2004 election.

Mark TeoliMark Teoli, the Republican candidate for the Ward 1 seat, promises to address high taxes, poor education and drug activity if elected to a seat on the City Council.

“The main thing is to hold down takes, the second is to make sure they get a good education over here,” Teoli said. He also said if elected he would address issues of particular importance to Ward 1 residents, including graffiti and drugs.

“We have a big drug issue (in Fox Point) and people are scared to walk the streets,” Teoli said.

Teoli said the people affected are afraid to speak up about the problem because they have been threatened and fear repercussions but that he would target the problem if elected. “I speak out – I’m not scared of nobody,” he told The Herald.

Teoli proposed opening a police substation on Ives Street near the Boys and Girls Club to address the problem.

Another local issue of importance to Teoli is keeping the Fox Point Public Library open. He said it is important to find funds somehow to keep the library open because it is an important resource for the community and keeps kids out of trouble.

Pasquale PetruntPasquale Petrunt is running on an Independent ticket for the Ward 1 City Council seat.

CITY COUNCIL WARD 2Cliff Wood Cliff Wood, former and founding director of the Providence’s Department of Arts, Culture and Tourism under the Cicilline administration, unseated current Ward 2 City Councilwoman Rita Williams in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary with 63 percent of the vote.

Wood has made education one of his major campaign issues, noting that the East Side pays a heavy tax burden to the city but does not always enjoy the services provided by the city because residents are not comfortable using the public school system.

Robert FaragoRobert Farago is running on the Republican ticket for the Ward 2 City Council seat. At 47, Farago is a first-time candidate and works as a communications specialist. Farago contributes as a columnist to the East Side Monthly.