It goes without saying the 2012 electoral process in East Providence took a significant hit in credibility over the last few weeks with the departures of Curtis Greene and Michael DiGioia from their respective School Committee and City Council campaigns. Their opponents, Tim Conley for Mr. Greene and Chrissy Rossi for Mr. DiGioia, seem headed to unabated election barring an often-difficult write-in effort.
This is not meant as a means of criticizing either of the individuals who have decided to drop out. Both Mr. Greene and Mr. DiGioia cited deep family concerns as the reason why they opted not to continue their election efforts. In that case, both men deserve praise for putting personal matters ahead of political ambition.
That doesn’t, however, change the conundrum of the voters of the city, specifically in the Ward 4 Riverside section, now likely without any real choice in who represents them on the two highest governing bodies in East Providence. Those constituents face the most undemocratic of elections possible.
Mr. Conley and Mrs. Rossi aren’t alone in facing a seemingly worry-free ride to election. William Conley, Tim Conley’s brother, is completely unopposed in his bid for the State Senate District 18 seat. Incumbent David Bates, likewise, is pretty much in the free-and-clear for a return to Smith Hill from his newly-constituted Senate District 32 seat, which now includes, ironically, another part of Riverside. Helio Melo is also running unopposed in his bid for re-election to the State House of Representatives from District 64.
These people, in various capacities, are able candidates and politicians, but, again, the process isn’t well served with them running sans opposition. In the same vain, the winner of the Democratic primary for the State Senate District 18 seat between incumbent Daniel DaPonte and challenger Roberto DaSilva will next run unchallenged in the November General Election.
Politics is a game not for the faint of heart. It is also one that, in theory at least, should test the mettle of those who choose to participate. When candidates run unopposed, on the ballot, and unchallenged, in their positions, the electorate inherently suffers.
In the Election of 2012, East Providence’s constituency is a lot like Jerry Seinfeld in the famous episode of his eponymous hit television series where he and his friends wait fruitlessly for a table at a restaurant. City voters, like Seinfield, can look at the menu, but they won’t ever really be served.