Newport City Council-elect met on Thursday, November 12 to elect a Chair/Mayor and a Vice-Chair on the Council for the 2020-2022 term of office.
Note: Newport City Council-elect will be officially sworn into office on December 1. The Mayor and Vice-Chair will be officially voted on and chosen then.
During the meeting, Jeanne-Marie Napolitano was chosen with a 4-3 vote to serve as Newport’s next Mayor, and Lynn Underwood Ceglie was chosen unanimously to serve as Vice-Chair.
The Mayor/Chair in Newport is elected by the seven City Council-elect members from among the four at-large councilors -in this case, Jeanne-Marie Napolitano, Jamie Bova, Lynn Ceglie, or Elizabeth Fuerte.
The City of Newport operates under a Home Rule Charter, which was adopted in 1953, and provides for a City Council – City Manager form of government. Every two years, Newport voters are asked to elect a seven-member City Council, comprised of four At-Large seats and three Ward representatives.
The Council is headed by a Chairperson, who is elected by the majority and also holds the title of Mayor. All legislative powers of the City are vested in the City Council by the Charter, including the ordering of any tax, making appropriations, and transacting any other business pertaining to the financial affairs of the City.
Bova and Napolitano had both expressed interest over the last week in serving as Mayor in the upcoming term. Bova, who was elected to the Council in 2016, served as Mayor 2018-2010. Napolitano, who was first elected to the Council in 1991, served as mayor from 2008 – 2010 and from 2014-2016.
Rounding out the seven City Council-elect members are Angela McCalla (Ward 1), Charlie Holder (Ward 2), and Kate Leonard (Ward 3).
When it came to nominations, Napolitano was nominated by Ceglie to serve as Mayor/Chair and Bova was nominated by McCalla.
With the support of Lynn Ceglie, Kate Leonard, and Charlie Holder, Napolitano, who was the top vote-getter in last week’s General Election, lined up the votes needed to once again serve as Mayor.
Bova had the support of McCalla and Fuerte. Fuerte and McCalla took the opportunity to speak during the meeting and share with fellow council members and the public why they supported Bova for Mayor. Bova read a statement (see below).
Holder, Ceglie, Leonard, and Napolitano did not take the opportunity to share with fellow council members or the public on why they were supporting Napolitano for Mayor.
Update- Bova issued the following statement following the meeting, she also read this during the meeting;
Every two years, the people of Newport are frustrated by the way their elected representatives appoint a Mayor. The story above the fold of Tuesday’s Newport Daily News illustrates exactly why.
“Napolitano lines up votes to be mayor.” This headline describes a process where a councilor-elect has secured a majority of votes before ever calling for a public discussion. It implies that a decision will be made by a public body without anyone knowing the reasons behind it.
This year I had hoped we would use a different model, based on the transparent decision-making process that the council has fostered over the last two years. I made the announcement to volunteer for a second term as Council Chair immediately following the election because I am prepared to make my case publicly to my colleagues. A council makes better decisions when we are willing to bring our ideas to the table and discuss them, and I want us to continue the mutual respect and public collaboration that I worked to build on the council during the last term.
If the council is not comfortable expressing differing opinions and respectful criticism in a public discussion, we have failed in our duty as public servants. We are here to serve the people of Newport. This council can’t be unified by lining up votes ahead of time, and we can’t move forward together until everyone is a part of the conversation.
For the past two years as Chair, I have encouraged and fostered respectful debate and discussion during Council meetings and fully engaged the public in our government. Every member of the Council has had a voice, whether they agree with me or not. We have had longer meetings, more workshops, and greater discussion in view of the public – and we have gotten results. However each of you vote tonight, I want you to know that I respect your decision and believe that we can work together as colleagues. I ask you to consider what kind of City Council Newport needs and cast your vote accordingly.
Watch The Meeting
2020 General Election Results – Newport City Council
Unofficial results: Updated November 10, 2020 06:00 PM / 10 of 10 precincts reporting (100%)
Non-Partisan Council-At-Large CITY OF NEWPORT
|Jamie P. Bova||4715||16.5%|
|Lynn Underwood Ceglie||3951||13.8%|
|Susan D. Taylor||3615||12.6%|
|Elizabeth Evans Cullen||2381||8.3%|
|Justin S. McLaughlin||1494||5.2%|
Non-Partisan Council Ward 1 Newport
|Hugo J. DeAscentis, Jr.||711||30.5%|
Non-Partisan Council Ward 2 Newport
|Charles M. Holder, Jr.||1813||50.5%|
|Kim M. Salerno||1761||49.1%|