Charlestown’s state Senators and Representatives more than any other town. South County
|This is the OLD House district map|
By Will Collette
When the General Assembly reconvenes in January, they will be presented with new maps defining the state’s political districts. Every ten years, in the year after a national Census, the maps must be re-drawn so that they all contain the same number of people.
’s two Senators, Republicans Dennis Algiere and Francis Maher, and two Representatives, Democrats Donna Walsh and Larry Valencia, saw their districts undergo some major surgery. In this article, I will focus on the House districts. I will cover the Senate changes later this week. Charlestown
Before getting into those details, here’s a run-down on what happened to the other South County House districts. NOTE: in the state House of Representatives,
’s reps are Districts 31 through 39. South County
Taking the districts in numerical order, of
’s nine Representatives, the most conservative member is Rep. Doreen Costa (District 31) who ran as both the Tea Party and Republican candidate. She is in her first term. South County
She is also one of the most controversial members of the House and earned her reputation early through her surprise success in getting the House to pass a resolution banning the use of the term “holiday tree” in place “Christmas Tree.” This non-binding resolution was largely ignored until Governor Lincoln Chafee followed Gov. Don Carcieri’s example of using the expression “holiday tree.” That won another 15 minutes of fame for Costa.
The major change in Costa’s district is the addition of traditionally Democratic Quonset and Davisville. Much of her district is already traditionally Democratic, so she may find that her first term is also her last term.
She picks up Quonset/Davisville from Republican Rep. Laurence Ehrhardt (District 32). Although Ehrhardt has represented that district in the House since 2004, I couldn’t pick him out of a line-up and could find no noteworthy legislation in his name. I have no idea whether it will make any difference to his continued tenure in the House to give up Quonset/Davisville.
In District 33 is Democratic Rep. Donald Lally. Lally is another house member who doesn’t project a particularly large shadow. He picks up a good chunk of South Kingstown north of
Wakefield and gives up a chunk of . For him, that’s a good swap, since Exeter Exeter tends Republican and South Kingstown tends Democratic.
|Teresa Tanzi, with daughter Delia and Senator Whitehouse|
District 34 is represented by first-term solid progressive Democrat Rep. Teresa Tanzi. Her district lost population in the census, so she needed to add people, and gets them by pretty much getting most of
, which is Democratic territory. Wakefield
Democratic Rep. Spencer Dickenson represents District 35. He’s the one who is donating Democratic Wakefield to boost the population in Teresa Tanzi’s (D-34), but he picks up
Worden Pond Road and from Donna Walsh (D-36). There are some good Democrats on Snug Harbor Worden Pond Road.
Skipping Donna Walsh (D-36) for a moment, Westerly Democratic Rep. Sam Azzinaro’s District 37 stays very much the same, with the exception of picking up
(RISC’s stronghold) from Donna Walsh. Otherwise, Sam’s solid Democratic bases in Shelter Harbor make his re-election prospect look bright. Westerly
Democratic Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy’s rural Hopkinton district remains largely unchanged, except for ceding the northern strip to Larry Valencia. He is also in a safe district.
Progressive Democrats Donna Walsh (D-36) and Larry Valencia (D-39) face the biggest changes. I’ve already noted above where their colleagues either gave or took pieces of territory to Larry or Donna, but if you look at it purely from a
perspective, the changes are profound. Charlestown
For one thing, under the approved House map, Larry no longer presents
. Larry and Donna had been splitting Charlestown , north and south, respectively, but the district boundary for Donna has been pushed north, and pushes Larry out of town. Charlestown
To the west, Donna’s District 36 gives up
Shelter Harbor and to the east, she gives up Worden Pond and . Snug Harbor Charlestown has always been Donna’s home and political home base, and voters have rewarded her with wide margins. Charlestown
Rep. Larry Valencia is in his first-term. He barely held on to win his seat and did so by winning in
by a large margin. There is no sugar-coating the demographics that show the new map is not to his advantage. Charlestown
Fortunately, Larry worked hard for his district. He won a prestigious seat on the House Finance Committee and worked hard for a fairer tax system that rolled back some of the tax give-aways that the Carcieri administration made to
’s 1%. Rhode Island
Larry is a firm believer in progressive taxation, as he said when he courageously defended the Charlestown Democrats’ $1000
Tax Credit at the December 12 Town Council meeting. Homestead
Even though he will no longer represent
, I hope readers will remember how well Larry served our town and the state and will continue to support him. Charlestown
NEXT: The Senate map also shapes up
politics South County
|The new district map for the Rhode Island House|