Ruggiero surprises Long in House election
While islanders had a fairly good sense of who would win the spots in the federal elections, the local races for state representative and senator went down to the wire.
Islander Deborah Ruggiero unseated 14-term incumbent Bruce Long in the race for state representative in District 74, which includes Jamestown and Middletown. Ruggiero pulled in 54 percent of the vote, 1748 votes, in Jamestown compared to Long's 46 percent, 1515 votes. The trend was the same district wide, with Ruggiero taking 54 percent of the overall vote.
"I am very excited and humbled to serve the people of Rhode Island, especially Jamestown and Middletown," Ruggiero said. "I want to thank Rep. Long for his many years of service, and I mean that."
Ruggiero said it was an honor to be elected by her neighbors and she looks forward to having a voice at the table to make a difference in policy.
"I am so honored to have had the opportunity to represent Jamestown for six years," Long said. "The people have spoken and there was a lot of anti-Republican sentiment and a lot of anti-incumbent sentiment as well." Long represented Middletown in the General Assembly until a redistricting effort placed Jamestown in the same district as parts of Middletown six years ago.
The margin was wider in the District 13 senate race. Although island resident Donna Perry received 42 percent of the vote from fellow islanders, district wide incumbent M. Teresa Paiva Weed won with 64 percent of the vote to Perry's 36 percent.
"I am very excited," Paiva Weed said.
Paiva Weed said she was ready to get back to work at the statehouse and focus on some of the major issues facing the state. "I anticipate we will focus on renewable energy and energy as a whole. There are a lot of new initiatives in those areas," Paiva Weed said. "I hope the governor gives us the supplemental budget very early so we can really take a look at it," she added.
Perry said that although she is disappointed, she wishes Paiva Weed well. "I am very grateful for everyone who supported me. The state faces a tough road ahead and we need all legislators to work together to put Rhode Islanders first."
The town tracked very close to the state trend in Tuesday's election and voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. Obama won 62 percent of the vote, or 2,118 votes, compared to a 63 percent, 275,488 votes, statewide. He trailed Hillary Clinton statewide in the March Democratic primary, but carried Jamestown in that election as well.
There was not much of a surprise in the U.S. Senate race between incumbent senator Jack Reed of Jamestown and challenger Bob Tingle. Rhode Islanders voted 73 to 27 percent in favor of Reed, who is a member of the Senate Armed Forces Services, Appropriations, and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committees. His fellow Jamestowners cast 2401 votes, or 74 percent, for Reed.
"I am very, very pleased and humbled by the great margin. But, at the same time this is an invitation to get back to Washington and work very hard for the people of Rhode Island," Senator Reed said. The senator was also excited about Obama's presidential win. "This is such a national historic event on many levels. It was a significant victory and I think people were voting for change, hope and opportunity," he said.
In the First Congressional District race featuring incumbent Patrick Kennedy and challengers Kenneth Capalbo and Jonathan Scott, Kennedy cruised to an easy win.
Kennedy led the race with 69 percent of the vote.
"I want to thank my supporters, family and most of all the people of Rhode Island's First Congressional District for re-electing me to another term. Today's historic election of President-elect Obama demonstrates a renewed sense of civic participation among citizens, and I am proud and humbled to be part of such an extraordinary event in our nation's history. Just as important, however, is the sense of urgency among Americans that it is time to rework this economy, create jobs, and rebuild the middle-class. We need to work on a plan that invests in small businesses and in our nation's ailing transportation infrastructure to remain competitive. It is time to embrace a strategy for energy independence to foster investments in renewable energy and propel the new energy economy. And we need to work on providing all Americans with access to affordable, quality health care. I am eager to get back to work and tackle these issues with the incoming Obama administration and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in Congress," said Congressman Kennedy.
Jamestown and the state both voted to approve Questions One and Two on the state ballot. Question One concerning transportation bonds carried 80 to 20 percent in Jamestown and Question Two concerning open space passed 75 to 25 percent. Jamestown had a higher level of support for both questions than statewide voting.
One common theme in all of the races is that all of the winning candidates are anxious to get to work for the people of Rhode Island.