EAST PROVIDENCE — Days later, East Providence City Council incumbents Bruce Rogers and Thomas Rose were still basking in the glow of considerable victories Tuesday, Sept. 11, in the city’s non-partisan primary election.
Mr. Rogers received 50.3 percent (789 votes) of the ballots cast to top his four-way Ward 2 primary. The veteran pol and current Council president advances to the November General Election opposite newcomer Helder Cunha, who finished second Tuesday with 31.4% (492). Melissa Abbott and Burton Plamondon combined for just over 18% of the electorate (188 votes).
“I’m extremely pleased,” Mr. Rogers said Thursday, Sept. 13. “As I noted in press releases and in my responses to questions during the campaign, I worked extremely hard going door-to-door. I was able to speak with the people of Ward 2. They were able to share their thoughts and concerns on the problems we face in the City of East Providence.
“I’m very pleased with the number of voters who turned out in support of me. I think they feel I care about them and they believe I will continue to help them and the city going forward.”
Mr. Cunha, likewise, expressed his appreciation for the support he received Tuesday, but understands he has a significant hill to climb to unseat Mr. Rogers in Ward 2.
“I want to thank all of voters and those people who have worked on my campaign so far,” Mr. Cunha said. “I know I still have a lot of work to do. I look forward to the journey.
“I’m a little disappointed. I thought it would be a little bit closer, but it is what it is. Some people may or may not have known who I was. I’m the new guy, so I guess it’s to be expected. I’ve just got to get out there in the neighborhoods and work harder.”
Mr. Rose, who collected 55.7% (922) in winning the Ward 3 primary over Candace Seel (36.3%, 600) and Daniel Dalton (8%, 133), was equally appreciative of the backing he received Tuesday.
“We worked very hard. The people are still happy with what I’m doing for the city,” said Mr. Rose, who faces Mrs. Seel in the November general. “I’m going to continue to work hard to November, in fact I’m going to work even harder. I was happily surprised by the turnout at Kent Heights (polling place). According to my numbers 25% of the voters turned out, so that was very good.”
Mrs. Seel, like Mr. Cunha a first-time candidate, was slightly more pleased with her primary tally.
“I was satisfied with the results,” Mrs. Seel explained. “You’ve got to remember my campaign is completely grassroots. To get 36 percent of the vote against an incumbent, I’m pleased.”
Looking ahead to November, the incumbents said they would sharpen the platforms upon which they’ve based their campaigns since the beginning of this cycle.
“I’m just going to continue on the message I started with during the spring, which is I’m here to respond to the everyday needs of the people as well being concerned with the bigger issues the city faces,” Mr. Rogers added, noting the need to improve the city’s economy and infrastructure. “And I also need the input of the people. My biggest issue I hear walking door-to-door is about my accessibility and being responsive to the people of Ward 2 and the city. We may not always agree, but I do respond and I will continue to do so.”
“I’m going to continue to talk about the same issues. I’m going to continue working on creating a more business-friendly program in the city. I’m going to continue to help grow the tax base of the city,” said Mr. Rose. “I want to make East Providence more welcoming to new businesses while continuing to help out the businesses that are already here and that have been contributing to the tax base for many years.
“I also want people to know I don’t just represent Ward 3, I also represent the entire city. People have always been able to reach me 24-7, and can continue to do so again.”
The challengers, in the meantime, also plan on discussing the issues, but also understand they need to increase their brand recognition.
Mr. Cunha knows he starts the General Election race at a disadvantage, but plans to put in the time to become more familiar with his Ward 2 constituents.
“(The results) Tuesday just make me want to work harder. My opponent has been at this since the spring. I only decided to run a week before the deadline. I know I have to work harder from now to November,” Mr. Cunha said.
He added, “I need to get personal with the people. I need to make them aware of who I am and what I stand for. I’m a small businessman, I’m married with three kids. I have a vested interest in making East Providence a better place. We need to improve our schools, clean up our communities, reach out to businesses. We need to make East Providence a place where people want to live and work.”
Said Mrs. Seel, “Brand recognition can work both ways. While some people may see a name and have a positive reaction, others may be reminded how disappointed they are. I’ve walked 90 percent of the district and I plan on finishing the remaining 10 percent in the next few weeks. My message is going to continue to be what it’s been all along, that I am an independent voice for East Providence.
“I certainly have to ramp up things a bit to get the result I would like in November, but I’m going to continue to campaign on the idea of independent, honest and smart government for the City of East Providence.”