opinion Newport Rhode Island

Beginning on December 4th, Susan Taylor will represent Ward 1 on Newport City Council. She takes over the seat that Marco Camacho has occupied on the council.

Taylor has submitted the following Letter To The Editor following her election victory and the news that Harry Winthrop has been chosed to serve as Committee Chair and Mayor on the Newport City Council.

To the Editor:

I want first to express my sense of humility at being elected to the Newport City Council.  It is an honor, and while I’m pleased that so many voters have placed their faith in me, I take seriously my responsibility to represent all of the residents of the First Ward, and the entire city.  I wish to reach out to those who voted for Marco Camacho, who ran a great campaign, and to those who did not vote for either of us.  I hope to earn your trust and confidence as we move forward to potentially significant changes in the North End.

I believe one of my strengths is listening and consensus building.  I enjoy vetting ideas in a robust discussion to come up with a better solution.  I foresee that the Council to be inaugurated on December 4th will be a dynamic and interesting group, seven distinct voices and personalities, with many common values enabling us to move forward as one Newport.

I congratulate Harry Winthrop as he becomes mayor, and I thank Jeanne Marie Napolitano for leading the city in such a gracious manner, with the quiet competence that is so often a part of female leadership.  I believe the city has been in good hands, and will continue to be in good hands.

I do wish to voice my concerns about the process for selection of a mayor, which has been in place for the last several elections and appears to have usurped an unwritten rule that the mayor’s seat goes to the highest vote-getter among the at-large candidates.  When two of the at-large councilors are interested in the mayor’s position then the other five councilors are thrown into an unseemly process of deciding between colleagues before we have even taken office.  Each person will have his or her own criteria for mayor, and the process certainly suggests to the public that the door is open to back room dealing.   I do not believe that happened in the past week, but having run my campaign on the theme of greater transparency in our municipal government, I cannot support this process.  And, of course, in the end, I believe it damages the council to start out with the possibility of bad feelings and potential grudges when instead we should all be celebrating our election and our love of Newport, and building relationships.

I stated early on that I did not wish to back either “candidate” for mayor, and would instead cast my vote using the rule which I believe most voters in Newport expect us to apply:  the highest at-large vote-getter becomes mayor.  I would like to introduce a resolution to amend the Charter to enshrine this rule, with the provision that the person who becomes mayor must have served at least one term on the Council in the last 10 years.  I am very new, and not even sworn in yet, and would welcome comments on this at www.susandtaylor.com, by phone, in person, or through Facebook.

Susan Taylor

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.  Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in...