EP Canvassing Board Votes for 2018 City Elections. Police Called at Start of Meeting.
Former Member Tom Riley Refused to Leave Seat at Board Table. EP Will Get Its Election...
The newly appointed East Providence Canvassing Board held its first meeting on Thursday May 3rd in a tense meeting at City Hall. On Tuesday May 2nd, Mayor and Councilman-at-Large James Briden, nominated Peter Barilla and Nicholas Oliver to fill open seats on the three member canvassing authority. At a sometimes raucous council meeting, Mayor Briden and Ward One councilman Robert Britto voted to approve the appointments. Staying together in opposition, Ward Two councilwoman Anna Sousa, Ward Three councilman Joe Botelho, and Ward Four councilman Brian Faria abstained from voting. Many thought that the three council members had defeated Briden's appointments. However parliamentarians in the audience wondered if the vote had passed or failed due to the abstentions.
A day later the city legal department ruled that Briden's appointments prevailed 2-0 with no objections due to abstentions. Had the three non-voting members actually voted against Barilla and Oliver, the canvassing board would still be two members short.
Mayor Briden swore in the new members on Wednesday and the new canvassing board met on Thursday evening. At the start of the meeting former member Tom Riley, who disqualified himself as a board member by changing parties from Republican to Democrat, sat at the board's table and declared he was still on the canvassing authority to the surprise of those gathered in the room.
In the room was candidate for council-at-large, Bob Rodericks, Ward Four council candidate Ricardo Mourato, Ward Two council candidate Joshua Pereira, Mayor James Briden, and council members Anna Sousa, Brian Faria and Robert Britto. Ward Three councilman Joe Botelho was not present. A couple of others were present including attorneys for opposing sides. Republican chairperson Kathy Santos was also present.
Canvassing board attorney Lauren Jones entered the room and asked Tom Riley to leave the board's dais. "I'm on the canvassing board," said Riley. "No you're not," said city attorney Jones. "Oh yes I am," replied Riley as the two sparred back and forth about Riley's proclamation.
Attorney Jones then warned Riley that he would call the police and have Riley removed if he didn't leave his seat. "Go ahead," said Riley. Jones advised the new canvassing board to leave the room and they did so.
At-Large council candidate Bob Rodericks entered into a dialogue with Riley in the interim. "Tom, you made your point, why don't you sit in the audience, you are disrupting this meeting. Hasn't our city gone through enough? Bring you complaints to another venue, Tom." Riley replied, "Bob I am still on the board. The ruling was wrong," he continued.
At that point attorney Jones returned and once again asked Riley to leave. "You don't belong here. You received a letter from solicitor Greg Dias which removed you." Next, two East Providence Police officers entered the room and asked Riley to leave. Riley refused. The police calmly gave Riley a chance to explain his reason. "You're disrupting the public session," police officer Mark Cadoret told Riley. After Riley continued to stay seated, the police made a motion toward him. "You don't have to do that," Riley said. "I'll leave." Riley retreated to the first row in the audience. Three East Providence Police officers remained throughout the meeting.
Eventually the new board convened and elected Peter Barilla as Chairman. The board voted that there will be an election in 2018. They also voted that council candidates will run for a four year term. The school committee will also run in 2018 but for two year terms because they are state governed. The board ruled that the Mayor's term will be for four years.
The State Board of Elections will still hold their meeting on the East Providence election fiasco on May 14, 2018 at 6 P.M at board headquarters on Branch Avenue.