Mellor and Silva should be commended for no-show

To the editor:

Warren Town Council candidates Brian Mellor and Richard Silva deserve much credit for refusing to attend the forum for town council candidates that was sponsored by the Rhode Island Voter Coalition.

Behind the innocuously-named coalition lurks a sinister force called the Tea Party — a divisive political movement that represents the radical, far-right fringe of the Republican party.

The Tea Party, rightfully, is not even a minor force in Rhode Island politics. And the coalition’s website lists only two contacts, and seems from that site to be active this election season only in Bristol, Warren and Cumberland — so much for a “Rhode Island” coalition.

The candidates who attended the forum sponsored by this Tea Party front gave credence to these budget-bashing radicals.

The refusal of Brian Mellor and Richard Silva to attend the forum was a brave decision, considering the headlines they knew their absence would — and did — produce.

Come to think of it: Brave decision-makers might be just what we need on the town council.

Robert Bento

790 Main St.

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15 Comments

  1. allpoliticsislocal said:

    Oh yes these candidates should be commended. The voters have absolutely no idea what either of them have for positions on anything.

    But they are part of the Endorsed Team from the Warren Democratic Party so I guess just trust them.

  2. Mark Smiley said:

    I find it hilarious to hear people that have no idea what the Tea Party is explain it. It’s usually an explanation like the one here, some extreme right wing part of the Republican Party.

    The first misconception is that there is a single “Tea Party”. In RI alone I know of at least 9 loosely organized groups that can qualify as “taxpayer advocacy groups” which is a fairly decent way to explain what the Tea Party movement has actually become.

    The facts are that these groups are all fiercely non-partisan. They are neither Republican or Democrat, although some of them are affiliated with one party or the other. I know many Republicans AND Democrats that are in the Tea Party, but most of them are actually registered unaffiliated. They are citizen activists, nothing more, nothing less. Some work almost exclusively as lobbyists in the interests of taxpayers at the RI Statehouse. Other’s organize volunteers, vet candidates, work toward the election of their favorite candidates, etc.

    I actually attended the forum given for the residents of Warren and didn’t find it to be some vast right wing conspiracy as Mr. Bento seems to be implying. What I did see was 6 candidates being asked pertinent questions to the office for which they are running.

    The RI Voter Coalition did have these forums in every community in RI and in some communities they had multiple forums for different parts of the ballot. They are a very small group and I thank them for putting forth the effort to put these forums on. It’s not easy to schedule the venue, advertise the event, get volunteers to help, invite the candidates, and then moderate what can sometimes become heated discussions.

    It’s unfortunate that Mr. Silva and Mr. Mellor did not attend. I’ve never had the opportunity to hear either of them speak and have absolutely no idea what they stand for. This would have been an excellent opportunity for them to introduce themselves.

  3. Marina Peterson said:

    Thank you for your comments Mr. Bento. I would be interested to hear what other Warren residents have to say about the forums. If you live in Warren, do you find these opportunities to interact directly with your candidates and ask the questions that are important to you helpful/beneficial/informative? Please let us know so that we can use this information in planning for the next election cycle.

    We try to hold candidate forums in all 39 towns in RI and it is very time-consuming. I am the website manager and there just have not been enough hours in the day to keep the website up to date.

    Rhode Island Voter Coalition is NOT in any way connected to the Tea Party. We are non-partisan and I challenge anyone who has attended one of our forums to show any evidence to the contrary.

    Our sole mission is to get the public more involved with the electoral process.

    I have no idea where Mr. Bento got his erroneous information, and I question his statement that it was “courageous” for the two candidates in question to refuse to appear before their potential constituents and respond to their questions.

    I look forward to hearing from other Warren residents on this matter.

  4. brandt said:

    Two years ago as a candidate for the Warren Town Council I was invited to participate in the same forum sponsored by the RI Voter Coalition. I did participate in that forum and attended the most recent one; both were completely non-partisan. There was absolutely no bias or manipulation from the group that sponsored them.
    Mr. Bento’s accolades for the refusal of Mr. Mellor and Mr. Sliva to attend are nothing short of pathetic. Legitimate candidates for public office are expected to participate in town hall meetings and forums that are sponsored by groups as diverse and opposite as PBS and Fox News. Serious candidates welcome the opportunity to express their positions and viewpoints to the people, they don’t hide from it.
    So was it a “brave” decision by these two candidates to avoid the forum? I think not and I think it speaks volumes about their credibility.

    Brandt Heckert

    • Ethan Tucker said:

      I am not sure if Mr Bento attended the same forum I did… Not only did I attend the Warren forum briefly, but I also experienced the same forum in Bristol as a Town Council Candidate a few weeks ago. I can honestly say it was bi-partisan and one of the most engaging public forums I have ever had the pleasure being a part of. The residents of Bristol where so very grateful for your efforts Marina. Many residents have been singing your praises over the last few weeks for the opportunity to ask any question they like in an open forum. I walked away from the Bristol forum enlighten, excited, and looking for another round. In fact, at my last campaign fundraiser, I allowed all my supporters to put me on the spot and ask any question. We had a lot of fun with the format and carried on with questions for more than 30 minutes. Maybe the two Warren TC candidates that chose not to make the Warren forum where scared….

      Ethan M Tucker

  5. John Tats said:

    Candidates attend forums so that the public can hear their views on topics. Marina Peterson is nothing more than a moderator for these forums. The questions are posed from the general public to the candidates. The general public is entitled to belong to what-ever political affiliation they choose, Democrat, Republican or Independent…the fact is if a candidate doesn’t attend one of these functions, the general public is left to guess what their stance is on a whole list of issues. I’m not so sure that commending an absence is the proper method to use to promote a new candidate. The fact is two people chose not to attend and they will have to live with their decision & that decision may have been a poor one.
    Questions from the public are nothing more than questions, there not attacks from people. People want to know what candidates are feeling, so that they can make conscience decisions during voting. There is no reason to commend someones for a lack of participation, it was a choice and nothing more. The public will decide the rest.

  6. allpoliticsislocal said:

    The real question here is what does this say about the Democratic Party in Warren. Two out of the four endorsed Democratic candidates did not attend the candidates forum.

    In the current issue of the Warren Times on page 5 there is a 1/2 page ad featuring the “Endorsed Team” pictured in the ad are Mr. Silva and Mr. Mellor along with other Town Council candidates Ms. Tattrie and Mr. Frerichs.

    Are they all running as a team? What does Ms. Tattrie & Mr. Frerichs think about this? Do they support Mr. Silva and Mr. Mellor as candidates?

  7. John Tats said:

    I don’t like to answer for others, Your question is a good one though. Perhaps someone could post it as a letter to be answered by them both.”My” feelings are that without being able to question “any” candidate it becomes very difficult for anyone to make a decision at voting time. You may have some information on an individual, but aren’t able to confirm their stance on a subject, that pretty much throws their vote out the window.Most of the present sitting Council candidates have very good idea’s and would seem to have started working well together.It is very difficult for a voter to choose a person that they have not been able to get a feeling for or what their idea’s are. Also, I still consider Marina Peterson to be a neutral in those events, she’s the moderator and does a decent job of it. As far as your question goes about the photo, I don’t know…are the independents a team? I would guess that would be another good question for them to all answer…..

  8. silvar12 said:

    I was not able to participate in the recent candidate forum which was held on October 18 due to a prior commitment.  As a result, my absence did not give the people of Warren the opportunity to hear my position on the issues and more importantly I did not get to hear your concerns.  I am disabled so my door to door walks have been limited.  My involvement in politics has always been as a worker for the candidates and never for myself.  After serving on the Warren Zoning Board and presently the Planning Board I felt it was time to serve the town in a different manner and chose the Town Council. I am a former operations manager in the financial business and a Six Sigma black belt (a methodology for improving quality by reducing process defects).

    My position/ideas:

    >Do a lean assessment on all town departments to determine if they are working in the most efficient manner, not necessarily to eliminate staff but to determine if any processes are duplicated among departments. Does a process belong where it is?

    >As for the EBEC, I am in favor of the wind energy concept but not at a cost to the taxpayer.  Private alternatives are available and should be investigated.  

    >The comprehensive plan is a good document to have as direction but some sections in the draft needs to be debated.  

    >As for the American Tourister building, we lost a great opportunity to have it developed when Meredith Management withdrew. Owners of large manufacturing buildings, that would like to subdivide to allow smaller business to lease space need quick approval.  Potential occupants cannot and will not wait several months for town approval. During that time, they are exploring options in other towns/cities.  
    New business must be brought into town and with ease obtaining the necessary approval permits and licenses. Currently, required approvals are spread out among more than one department. This is where the lean assessment would determine if these could be brought under department.

    >We need to revise the zoning ordinances so that they reflect a business friendly attitude.

    >Appointments: Warren does not have documented qualifications that is needed for each appointed position. How can we appoint on qualifications only if we do not know what they are.. We also need to look at experience in personal life, as a member or previous member of a board and/or time spent as an alternate member.

    These are a few of the issues that concern me and I invite you to send me any questions or concerns to my email address silvar12@cox.net.

    • Marina Peterson said:

      Thank you for explaining your platform Mr. Silva. And thank you for clarifying that you did not refuse the attend the candidate forum, but that you were simply unable to attend.

      I would imagine you are embarrassed by the claim that you were showing an act of courage by “refusing” to attend.

      Best of luck to you.

  9. Ethan Tucker said:

    Thank you Mr Silva for the clarification. Mr Bento’s original article made it sound the you choose not to attend the event in a boycot fashion. Being unable to attend is certainly much different. The Bristol forum was my first and although I thought it was great, I will admitt I was a bit nervous. To be asked an unknown question in a room full of prople judgeing you, and to be expected to respond with a clear and concise answer in one to two minutes is very difficult. Best of luck to you!

    Ethan M Tucker

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