TIVERTON — In back-to-back meetings more celebratory that business-oriented, Tiverton’s newly elected school committee and town council members were sworn in last Tuesday evening. They thenconvened for short agendas that included electing officers.
Sally Black, starting her third term on the school committee, was unanimously re-elected by her colleagues to serve as chairwoman, the second time she has been elected to that position.
Edward Roderick was chosen serve as town council president. Voting for Mr. Roderick were newly elected council members Denise deMedeiros, James Arruda, and William P. Gerlach — all new to the council — and Brett Pelletier, now entering his second term.
Abstaining on the vote for Mr. Roderick were outgoing council President Jay Lambert and Joan Chabot, both re-elected to serve new terms on the council, Mr. Lambert his third and Ms.Chabot her second.
Mr. Roderick was the only candidate nominated for the position. Mr. Lambert, speaking from his chair as outgoing council president, said, “I’m not planning to run again after this election.”
Offering an explanation for his vote to abstain, Mr. Lambert said he believes that the council president should be elected by the voters.
“I don’t think the voters should be pushed out entirely,” he said. “I think it should be left up to the electors by way of the candidate who received the largest number of votes.” To this end, Mr. Lambert said, “I may move at some point to have a charter change.”
Mr. Lambert was the largest vote-getter in this last town council election, gathering 3,117 votes. Mr. Roderick received 3,027 votes, 90 fewer than Mr. Lambert. Councilor Chabot said she abstained “for the same reasons” as Mr.Lambert.
The back-to-back meetings began last Tuesday with the 6 p.m. meeting of the school committee in the high school library, where an estimated 40 citizens witnessed the swearing-in by Town Clerk Nancy Mello of newly re-elected school committee members Black and Carol Herrmann, and newcomer to the committee, Jerome Larkin.
Danielle Coulter, a member of the outgoing committee who chose not to run again, was not present. On behalf of the General Assembly, newly re-elected Representative Jay Edwards, newly re-elected state Representative Jay Edwards (D-Dist. 70) presented her, in absentia, with a legislative citation thanking her “for her service to the town.”
School committee members elected Ms. Herrmann to serve as vice-chairwoman. Both Ms. Black and Ms. Herrmann were the only nominees.
“I think with a unified school committee in terms of our priorities, I think we’ll move forward more quickly and reach consensus by talking things through,” Ms. Herrmann said of the committee’s prospects in the months to come.
At 7 p.m., before a packed crowding Town Hall, all newly elected town officials were sworn in as a group by Chief Judge of Rhode Island District Court Jeanne E. Lafazia, a Little Compton resident.
Legislative citations for service to the town were presented to outgoing council members Rob Coulter and David Nelson (who was absent), both of whom lost in their bids for re-election, and Cecil Leonard, who retired and did not run for re-election.
Newly elected council member Denise deMedeiros, the second-highest vote getter among council candidates (with 3,072 votes), was elected vice president of the council. Mr. Lambert abstained from voting for her, for the same reasons he gave for abstaining from voting for Mr. Roderick. Ms. Chabot voted in favor of Ms. DeMedeiros for the position.
Ms. deMedeiros, who has previously served on the school committee and as its chairwoman, said “I’m very excited. This is my fifth campaign and I’ve never felt as much support as I have this time.”
Before adjourning, the new council took action on several items. It accepted, with regret and appreciation, the resignations of Cecil Leonard (from the Tiverton Police Pension Fund Board of Trustees) and of Robert Rabiner (from the Economic Development Commission.)
It also approved the expenditure of grant funds, and a contract, for the construction of a new senior center ramp.