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Emptying out East Providence election night notebook

By   /   November 7, 2012  /   Be the first to comment

EAST PROVIDENCE — Several of the candidates and politically active members of the city were still stirring Wednesday, Nov. 7, the day after the 2012 General Election, which had incumbent Bruce Rogers, despite a primary victory and almost a year of campaigning, upset by first-time candidate Helder Cunha in the Ward 2 Council race.

Photos by Jason Speakman

Helder Cunha accepts a congratulatory handshake from a supporter following his victory over Bruce Rogers Tuesday in the Ward 2 City Council election.

For Mr. Rogers, who clung to the positions of Council President and ceremonial mayor with both hands, the rejection of the Ward 2 voters had to be as much devastating as it was disappointing.

He had defeated Mr. Cunha by a significant margin in what was a four-way primary race in September. The rumblings about the novice opponent was he had not taken the election seriously enough. His most staunch supporters were just about conceding a victory to Mr. Rogers Tuesday. And it seemed even Mr. Cunha wasn’t quite so sure of his chances until Election Day itself.

“I actually had a good, positive feeling because of the feedback I was getting at the polls all day,” Mr. Cunha said. “A lot of people came up to me to shake my hand and said they were happy to put the face with the name. They liked what I was saying, and I just asked them for their vote.”

Mr. Cunha pulled off the undoubted upset of the night, bouncing Mr. Rogers, who hasn’t won an election now in almost 30 years. After two terms on the Council in the early 1980s, Joe Botelho, who fell to Gregg Amore in the House of Representatives District 65 race Tuesday, defeated Mr. Rogers. Two years ago, Mr. Rogers and former Councilor and State Rep. Brian Coogan both filed to run for the Ward 2 seat, but the latter later dropped out leaving the former to win unopposed.

More Council notes

Another of the first-time Council candidates, James Briden, eventually won his race for the Ward 1 seat against grizzled vet Ed Lynch with some ease. Mr. Briden, the former East Providence City Solicitor, was appreciative of the victory and took the campaign as a learning moment.

“As someone who has never run for office, this was quite a new experience,” Mr. Briden said. “I felt good about what I did. I walked the entire ward. I had some very good conversations with the people of Ward 1, but I felt (the election) could have gone either way. I know Mr. Lynch worked hard as did I.”

A shaken Candace Seel left Phillips Street Hall Tuesday after having lost to Ward 3 incumbent Tommy Rose, who basked in the glow of re-election, the only current office holder to maintain his position on either the Council or the School Committee.

“I had a good feeling about things all day. I was out there at the polls. I felt I was getting a lot of support,” Mr. Rose said of his interaction with voters Tuesday.

“Kumbaya” moment?

Mr. Rose was part of the Democratic Party faction in the city that used the Santa Maria Club on Broadway as its home base on Election Night, but he was the first of that clan to make an appearance at Phillips Street Hall to reach out to the other half of the party base at Phillips Street.

Mr. Rose came to the hall with City Clerk Kim Casci and a few other of his supporters. Within the next half hour, Democratic City Committee Chair John Faria and Mr. Rogers walked in followed shortly by unopposed new Ward 4 Councilor Chrissy Rossi along with her husband and one-time candidate John Rossi. Also from the Santa Maria Club came Ward 2 School Committee winner Anthony Ferreira as well as unopposed Ward 3 Committee winner Richard Pimentel.

At-Large School Committee winner Joel Monteiro and his At-Large winning counterpart Tracy Capobianco, who used the Cape Verde club on Grosvenor Avenue as their base Tuesday, joined the group shortly thereafter.

On its face, the gathering, stark and odd at some levels, could mean there’s a chance of closing of the chasm within the party faithful.

House races

Both Katherine Kazarian, in House District 63, and Mr. Amore, in 65, enjoyed rather bulbous wins over their respective opponents Tuesday, Independent David Sullivan and Moderate Mr. Botelho.

For the 22-year-old Ms. Kazarian, her one-sided victory over Mr. Sullivan proved her youth, something her opponent attempted to very much played up, wasn’t a factor with the voters.

“I’m 22 and proud of it,” Ms. Kazarian said.

The new State Representative was grateful to her supporters for their efforts.

“If it wasn’t for my family and all the volunteers who helped me none of this would have been possible,” she continued. “Family and volunteers were the key. I’m very thankful for them.”

Ms. Kazarian, like Mr. Cunha, said she was confident about her chances due in part to the feedback she received on the trail.

“The more people I talked to, the more voices I heard, I got a better feeling about my campaign.”

As for Mr. Amore, he, too, believed he had a good chance to win going into Election Day, but he refused to take victory for granted.

“Was I overconfident? No,” Mr. Amore said, rhetorically. “I felt good about where we were, but a lot of that had to do with the organization behind me. We had a lot of people out there working very hard the entire campaign.”

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