2006-11-02 / News

Much at stake in general elections

By Dotti Farrington

Island voters will be asked next Tuesday to choose two state legislators, running unopposed, as well as for seven candidates from a field of 16 who are vying for other state and federal offices. Three candidates are seeking a congressional seat, three are vying for the lieutenant governor's job, and two candidates are seeking each of the other offices. There are no local offices on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Jamestown has a stake in a state race: J. William W. Harsch, a veteran of federal and state service as a lawyer and administrator in the environmental and public utilities fields, as well as the town's solicitor. He has renewed his 2002 unsuccessful effort to take the office of state attorney general away from Patrick Lynch, a much younger lawyer and brother of state Democratic Party Chairman William Lynch. Harsch has been campaigning on many issues that he said reflected poor judgment and questionable ethics on Lynch's part.

Some political analysts have suggested that Harsch's only really strong issues are the questions about Lynch's handling of the investigation and prosecution in the 2003 Station nightclub fire in West Warwick that killed 100 people and injured more than 200 others. Investigation into the cause of the fire resulted in relatively minor charges against three of the club's principals. The fire resulted in no discipline of municipal and state workers who had not enforced fire code regulations that might have prevented the fire or the extent of its damage.

Harsch has also been giving voters his opinions and plans on consumer protection, ways to contain energy costs, development and enforcement of laws and regulations that better protect the public, and paying more attention to ethics, especially in accepting and reporting sources of campaign funds.

State legislators

+ State Senator M. Teresa Paiva- Weed of Newport, a Democrat, whose district includes Jamestown, is unopposed for the third time as she seeks her eighth term in the state Senate, where she has been senate majority leader for two years. When she faced challengers, she drew 62 to 77 percent of the votes. She has been practicing family law in Newport since 1984.

In the most recent scoring round by Common Cause, the state government watchdog that ranks legislators, Paiva-Weed scored 64 out of 100 for her stands on media and open government, separation of powers, and pro-reform votes.

+ State Representative Bruce J. Long of Middletown, whose district includes Jamestown, has been a legislator since 1980, and is running unopposed in this election. He is the senior member of the minority caucus and has held such leadership positions as minority whip. He is a businessman, and owner of a Del's Lemonade franchise.

In the Common Cause rating, he was among the top five legislators with a score of 84.5 based on support for the casino referendum, media and open government, separation of power, ethics and election measures and pro-reform votes. He frequently attends Town Council meetings here to update local officials on state legislation and to learn of town needs for which he develops legislation.

Paiva-Weed and Long often team up to pursue legislation on behalf of their constituents.

Ballot sequence

The first ballot decision for voters is whether to select the option for a "straight party ticket" for all Republicans or all Democrats. If that selection is made, only one item, the first on the ballot, needs to be completed. Election officials caution, however, that some voters make the mistake of choosing one or more candidates. Voting for any individual candidate or candidates cancels out the "straight" choice, the officials explained. Some officials prefer to counsel voters to take the time to vote for each candidate individually to prevent losing any other their votes.

U.S. Senator

The first set of candidates is for U. S. senator. The choices are incumbent Lincoln Chafee, a Republican, and Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. Seeking his second six-year term, Chafee was appointed for a year to complete the third six-year term to which his father John had been elected and was competing for at the time of his death in 1999.

U.S. Representative Republican Jonathan Scott and Independent Kenneth Capalbo are challenging six-term Democratic incumbent Patrick Kennedy for a two-year term.

R.I. Governor

Incumbent Republican Donald Carcieri is seeking a second fouryear term and is being challenged by Charles Fogarty, Democrat, who is the outgoing lieutenant governor.

Lieutenant Governor

Three candidates are vying to take over the four-year job vacated by Fogarty as he runs for governor. They are Republican Reginald Centracchio, Democrat Elizabeth Roberts, and Independent candidate Robert Healey Jr.

Secretary of State

Republican Sue Stenhouse and Democrat Ralph Mollis are campaigning for the four year term for the office being vacated by Matthew Brown, who did not seek re-election so he could make a bid for Chafee's seat but then stepped aside for Whitehouse to run.

Attorney General

Republican J. William W. Harsch is challenging incumbent Patrick Lynch, seeking his second four year term.

General Treasurer

Republican Andrew Lyon III and Democrat Frank Caprio are competing for the office of general treasurer, for which Democratic incumbent Paul Tavares chose not to seek a third four year term.

State Senator

Democrat W. Teresa Paiva- Weed is unopposed for re-election to a two year term.

State Representative

Republican Bruce J. Long is unopposed for reelection to a two year term.

Write Ins

Spaces are provided for voters to write in a candidate for any office, on a line

for that purpose under each office category on the ballot.

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