Noted past politicians voice support for East Providence governance change

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EAST PROVIDENCE — A handful of prominent past and possibly future politicians voiced their enthusiastic support at the City Council meeting held Tuesday night, April 15 for a proposed charter amendment ballot issue changing East Providence’s form of government to one of a strong mayor/council.

Former State Representative Roberto DaSilva, former Council President Bruce Rogers and former School Committee Chairman Charlie Tsonos were among those to speak during the public comments section of the forum, each taking turns noting their desire for the current Council to follow through on a vote taken late last year which would set the ballot referendum in motion.

A talking point of possibly first forming a Charter Commission was put on Tuesday’s meeting docket by Council President Jim Briden. However, the sitting ceremonial mayor was absent due to illness. No formal discussion, however, was held, though that did not stop those in attendance from making their feelings on the subject known.

The presence of Mr. DaSilva, who has a kept a low political profile since his narrow 2012 Democratic Primary Election loss to incumbent Sen. Dan DaPonte, was a bit of a surprise. Mr. DaSilva spoke with fervor about allowing the citizens of East Providence the opportunity to vote on the matter.

“All I’m asking is that you give the people their voice. Let them speak on this issue,” Mr. DaSilva said.

Mr. Rogers, referred to past ballot initiatives regarding the strong mayor form, including the last that appeared on the ballot back in 1991.

“There’s a simple solution,” Mr. Rogers said. “Let the people decide.”

Mr. Tsonos, as did the two previous speakers, stated his belief there wasn’t a need to seat a Charter Commission.

“Please put a properly worded referendum before the voters of the city,” Mr. Tsonos said.

In addition, Candy Seel, an unsuccessful candidate for Council from Ward 3 in 2012, urged the Council members to slow down the process, as, in her opinion, “this was far too important to rush through.”

While November is obviously still several months away, the process of having the city’s legal department put together the resolution together then having it approved takes time and must be completed well in advance of election day.

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