Pawtucket has enough problems already.
But it has a couple more with a candidate for mayor, Mr. David Norton, creating a spectacle involving Pawtucket’s council at-large candidates. This recent “forum” organized by relatively unknown “Pawtucket Parents Alliance” was held at the Pawtucket library. This event was meant to inject credibility into a fringe candidate’s beliefs, and a zany organization.
This spectacle only involved three Democrat council at-large candidates — Jim Chellel, Janie Lee Segui Rodriguez, and Emmanuel Echevarria — and two Independent council at-large candidates — Melissa DaRosa and Rodney Barber — out of the nine council at-large candidates. Props to those that sat this event out (kudos to Albert Vitali Jr, Michael Araujo, Mark Theroux, and Elena Vasquez). Some reporters decided to this one out as well, including the Valley Breeze’s managing editor Ethan Shorey (kudos to him as well). This was event was staged only to promote Norton’s need for attention and his candidacy (he did the introduction), which is exactly why he is promoting it on his campaign page.
On its face, the “forum” is already questionable.
Questionable on its Face
It is being organized by another candidate for mayor of Pawtucket, Norton. He has, in the past, embraced a litany of bizarre conspiracy theories. In my opinion, that’s been completely toxic to Rhode Island politics. Norton was also instrumental in getting the PawSox’s to abandon Pawtucket. Norton often seems like a more liberal and potentially more temperamental version of President Donald Trump–given his tactics.
This “organization” of his exists only in name only. When asked about who makes up the members of the “Pawtucket Parents Alliance,” there was no response from the organization. A search of the campaign finance reports yielded nothing. And when I checked with the Rhode Island Foundation, nothing was found. This “organization” is just a mask so Norton can sound official. The “organization” ended up endorsing every candidate that came to this outlandish function.
A Shell Organization?
Some people felt the event had trappings of legitimacy. Radio personality and moderator at the event 990 WBOB’s Scott Rotundo and UpRiseRI’s writer Steve Ahlquist felt the forum was objective. As Ahlquist put it “candidates that did attend were very well received” but does this matter when you weigh the cost?
These participants did long-term damage to our city by awarding Norton legitimacy and giving his wild accusations credibility. They should be ashamed for being willing participants in this fraud. Instead of being relegated to the status of fringe candidate, Norton and his non-existent organization now can say they sponsored a forum featuring legitimate, mainstream council at-large candidates (voters will have to take him seriously because, well, he did).
The voters now need to weigh whether the candidates that participated in this charade are worthy of their vote; next to photos of Norton, and his silly organization cheering the departure of one of Pawtucket’s greatest institutions: the PawSox.