2018-11-08 / Front Page

McCalla Stuns Dring in City Council Race

By James Merolla and Newport This Week staff

Angela McCalla started screaming with joy in the dim lights of The Parlor as supporters jumped up and down.

McCalla, who has only lived in Newport for about three years and had no prior political experience, defeated Ward 1 opponent Jim Dring by more than 400 votes in the Nov. 6 election for City Council. The political newcomer’s showing may have spoken volumes about Newport’s changing voter base.

“I am so excited. I love Newport for the support and it is time to get to work,” McCalla told Newport This Week. “The people were waiting for someone to listen.”

The runaway winner in the At- Large race was Jeanne-Marie Napolitano, who garnered more than 4,000 votes, distancing herself from three other winners, which could make her a front-runner to become mayor again, a post she held two years ago.

“I am ecstatic,” she said. “I feel great. I am honored and so privileged to serve all of Newport.”

Jamie Bova finished second in the voting, while Susan Taylor and Justin McLaughlin also earned At- Large seats alongside Napolitano. One of the four will be named the new mayor at the City Council’s Dec. 12 meeting.

“I’m tired, but really happy and really excited to serve Newport for another term,” Bova said. “I’m really happy that people trusted me to continue the work.”

The new council will also include Lynn Ceglie of Ward 2 and Kate Leonard in Ward 3.

"I want to thank the voters for giving me another opportunity to serve on the City Council. I look forward to working with my fellow councilors and the city manager to address the challenges we face,” said McLaughlin. “I’m excited to be a member of the team that will be helping the city to move the city forward toward, realizing its full potential and addressing the concerns of all of its residents."

Incumbent Marco Camacho, who was reappointed to the council after the resignation of John Florez last year, did not make the cut. Wick Rudd and Hugo DeAscentis also trailed the field.

Mayor Harry Winthrop opened up a seat in the At-Large race when he decided not to run. Taylor had been an incumbent candidate in Ward 1, but decided to run At- Large, which assured that the race in that ward would produce a new member of the council, as both Dring and McCalla were first-time candidates.

In Ward 2, incumbent Ceglie faced newcomer Valerie Larkin. Larkin said she hoped the new council would address the shortage of affordable housing in the city and the proliferation of short-term rentals, “so we can accommodate growth in making the city more vital and viable, while maintaining the quality of life for the people who live here.”

Pursuant to the Newport City Charter, the new two-year term for the seven councilors will begin on Dec. 1. Before then, they will caucus and convene an organizational meeting to agree upon which at-large representative will be named council chair/mayor.

The date for the council and school committee’s swearing in is the responsibility of the new council chair to schedule. On that day, the newly sworn council will formally elect its chair and vice-chair. At that time the council also reappoints the city solicitor and the municipal and probate judges, although if they didn’t do that at that meeting, the incumbents in those positions would continue to serve in their positions until they were reappointed or replaced at a later date.

The new council will preside at the regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 12.

Turnout was robust, with 45 percent of eligible voters casting ballots. According to the city, that figure was up significantly from the 2014 midterm election when turnout hovered around 33 percent.

Election results are unofficial at NTW press time. Newport received 953 absentee ballots, and results are available online at elections. state.ri.us. Newport also had 128 provisional ballots, and officials are hoping to tally and log those results by Friday Nov. 7.

Full election results will be posted on the state’s Board of Elections website.

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