If Town Councilor Tim Sweeney decides to seek a second term this November, he may be doing so without an endorsement by the Bristol Democrat Town Committee.
In a move Committee President John Faria said “will not bode well for his endorsement this June,” the Bristol Democrat Town Committee voted to reject Mr. Sweeney’s application for membership Jan. 27, calling him a party “pretender.”
The reason, states Mr. Faria, is because Mr. Sweeney nominated Republican Councilor Mary Parella as chairperson of the Town Council in December 2012.
“That upset many members of the (Committee) and local Democrats” Mr. Faria wrote in a letter to the Bristol Phoenix. “While many local Democrats have supported Mary Parella through the years for elected office, we also believe that if you run as part of a team, and the Democrats are a team, when it is time to elect the team captain, you need to elect the captain for your team.”
Mr. Sweeney ran for Bristol Town Council as an unendorsed Democrat in the 2012 elections and won. He, along with newcomers Ed Stuart and Nathan Calouro, are the three sitting Democrats on the Town Council. During a December council meeting, Mr. Stuart nominated party mate Mr. Calouro to the chairman’s seat. However, they were the only two to support that nomination.
Ms. Parella was then nominated as the chairperson by Mr. Sweeney, and seconded by Councilor Halsey Herreshoff, also a Republican.
In a letter to the editor shortly after that meeting, Mr. Sweeney responded to critics of his vote:
“I’ve been asked why I, as a newly elected Democratic councilman, would support Republican Mary Parella for chair of the council. On Nov. 6, Mary Parella won more votes, the confidence of more Bristolians, than any other candidate for council. Mary Parella’s years of experience on the Bristol Town Council and representing Bristol in the RI Senate have prepared her well to lead the council. I nominated my party mate, Edward P. Stuart Jr., to be the vice chair.”
Historically, Mr. Faria said, when the dominant party controls the council, they always choose the chairman from that party, which Mr. Sweeney did not do.
“The people voted and clamored for new blood,” Mr. Faria states. “Instead, they got the same-old, same-old.”
The Committee informed Mr. Sweeney of their decision in a brief letter, without explanation, finally “wishing (him) the best in all (his) future endeavors.”
“It is interesting that the Bristol Democrat Town Committee (BDTC) chose to inform me of their reasons to reject my application for membership through our local newspaper,” Mr. Sweeney said in a statement. “I am disappointed that the criteria they cite for membership are voting for the town council chairman of the (Committee’s) choice; and voting for a budget that the (Committee) approves.”
Mr. Sweeney was a registered Republican for more than 10 years and voted as a Republican in the 2006 and 2010 primaries. He later changed his party affiliation to Democrat just before the 2012 elections.
“If he believes in the Republican philosophy, which his history and actions demonstrate he does, then more power to him,” states Mr. Faria. “We encourage him to run as a Republican.”