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Plenty of drama, no surprises at Rhode Island Democratic Party State Committee Meeting



Some of those who were challenging the incumbent Rhode Island Democratic Party (RIDP) State Committee members were announced ahead of time, a few came as a surprise. The purpose of the meeting was to elect the members of the RIDP State Committee and to approved the new State Party Platform. The nine positions voted on were for Committee Chair, First Vice-Chair, Second Vice-Chair, Third Vice-Chair, Secretary, Corresponding Secretary, Recording Secretary, Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer.

The Sunday night meeting, held at the Cranston Portuguese Club, was packed with about 300 people, but onlyabout 172 of them were able and willing to vote. As roll call votes were taken over the course of the evening, more and more people left, decreasing the number of voters. In the last roll call vote only 122 people voted, just over half of those eligible to vote in Party elections.

Joseph Paolino, Tolulope Kevin Olasanoye and Leo Skenyon

All eyes were on the race for RIDP Chair and Secretary. On Friday, Representative Moira Walsh (Democrat, District 3, Providence) challenged Representative Joseph McNamara (Democrat, District 19, Warwick) for the position of Chair of the Party. Also, Representative Teresa Tanzi (Democrat, District 34, Narragansett, South Kingstown) challenged conservative Representative Arthur Corvese (Democrat, District 55, North Providence) for the position of Secretary of the Party. Neither won their challenge as the vast amount of Democrats in the room went with centrist or conservative candidates.

Lauren Carson

Below is all the video of the various nominations and election speeches:

RIDP Chair: McNamara v Walsh:

Representative Patricia Serpa (Democrat, District 27, West Warwick) nominated McNamara

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Jack Hudson seconded the nomination:

Samantha Weiser nominated Walsh for RIDP Chair:

Dr J Mark Ryan seconded the nomination:

McNamara’s gave his election speech:

Walsh made her election speech:

The final vote was for McNamara, 144 to 28. Here’s McNamara giving his acceptance speech:

RIDP First Vice-Chair

Representative Kathleen Fogarty (Democrat, District 35, South Kingstown) rose to nominate Representative Lauren Carson (Democrat, District 75, Newport) for RIDP First Vice-Chair:

Steven Seppo rose to 2nd the nomination:

Matt Jerzyk rose to nominate Representative Grace Diaz (Democrat, District 11, Providence):

Representative Arthur Corvese (Democrat, District 55, North Providence) rose to second the nomination:

Lauren Carson’s campaign speech:

Grace Diaz’s campaign speech:

The vote went to Diaz, 134-31.

RIDP Second Vice-Chair

Representative Marvin Abney (Democrat, District 73, Newport) rose to nominate Central Falls Mayor James Diossa:

Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien rose to second the nomination:

There were no challengers, Diossa was elected.

RIDP Third Vice-Chair:

Richard Kalunian rose to nominate Lisa Tomaso for Third Vice-Chair:

Bea Lanzi rose to second the nomination:

There were no challengers, and Tomaso was elected.

RIDP Secretary:

Diana Katz rose to nominate Teresa Tanzi for RIDP Secretary:

Aaron Pearson rose to second the nomination:

Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena rose to nominate Arthur Corvese:

Grace Diaz rose to second the nomination:

Teresa Tanzi made her campaign speech:

Arthur Corvese made his campaign speech:

The vote went to Corvese, 126 – 40.

RIDP Corresponding Secretary:

Kim Wyman rose to nominate Ann Gooding for RIDP Corresponding Secretary. Nancy Benoit rose to second. There were no other nominations and Gooding was elected.

RIDP Recording Secretary:

Michelle McGaw rose to nominate Portsmouth City Councilor Linda Ujifusa for Recording Secretary:

Shawna Rihani rose to second the nomination:

Kevin Heitke rose to nominate Steve McCauly for RIDP Recording Secretary:

The nomination was seconded:

Linda Ujifusa made her campaign speech:

Steven McCauley made his campaign speech:

The vote went to McCauley, 91-36.

RIDP Treasurer:

Ann Livingston rose to nominate Liz Beretta Perik as RIDP Treasurer:

The nomination was seconded:

J Mark Ryan rose to nominate Shawna Rihnai for RIDP Treasurer:

Aaron Pearson seconded the nomination:

Perik made her campaign speech:

Rihani made her campaign speech:

The vote went to Perik, 98-24.

RIDP Assistant Treasurer:

Representative Christopher Blazejewski (Democrat, District 2, Providence) rose to nominate Marsha Reback as RIDP Assistant Treasurer. Joseph McNamara seconded the nomination.

Linda Ujifusa rose to nominate former Rhode Island State Senator Jeanine Calkin (Democrat, District 30, Warwick) for RIDP Assistant Secretary:

Michelle McGaw seconded the nomination:

Marsha Reback was not in attendance.

Calkin made her campaign pitch:

The vote was done via a show of hands. Reback was declared the winner.

RIDP Party Platform:

RIDP Executive Director Tolulope Kevin Olasanoye gave a quick explanation about the newly completed and approved RIDP Party Platform. The Platform was quickly approved by voice vote.

The meeting was quickly closed before two members of the caucus had a chance to introduced new business. this cause some consternation and confusion:

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Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.