Note: for a full version of this story, be sure to pick up a copy of this week's edition of Newport This Week.
By Tom Shevlin
NEWPORT – Mayor Henry F. Winthrop appears on track to retain the city's top elected post.
As of Thursday, Winthrop had secured public commitments from at least four members of the council to keep him in the mayor's office.
Jeanne-Marie Napolitano, who earned the most number of votes yet again this year, said on Friday that while she was interested in leading the council as she had from 2008 until 2010, she would support Winthrop on a formal vote.
With a strong showing of his own in Tuesday's election, and a productive – albeit brief – tenure as mayor, Winthrop had the public backing of Councilors Justin S. McLaughlin, Kathryn E. Leonard, and Michael T. Farley. Councilwoman Naomi Neville was out of town, however Winthrop said that she had also given him a verbal commitment.
Published reports on Thursday indicated that Farley had committed to Napolitano, creating a 4-3 split on the council. However, Farley was quick to distance himself from that idea, saying in an e-mail that he's hopeful that the council would be able to avoid any discontent over the cermonial post.
"After speaking with Councilors Neville, Leonard and McLaughlin over the last several days, it is clear to me that they are firm in their support of Mayor Winthrop. I wish to avoid the unpleasantness of the 2010 mayoral selection process. I feel the best process for the City is to focus on the issues that matter most – economic development, financial stability and public safety."
Farley continued: "I have the greatest respect and admiration for Councilor Jeanne Marie Napolitano. Her experience and dedication continue to serve the City well, and I look forward to working with her on the council.
By the same token, Harry Winthrop has demonstrated a unique ability to unify the council and the City. I have no reservations supporting Harry continuing as the Mayor. His emphasis on public safety, financial stability and economic development are important to me. I am proud to give him my support, and I look forward to working with Mayor Winthrop and the rest of the council in serving the residents of Newport."
According to the city's Canvassing Office, Napolitano once again topped this year's field, earning 4,869 votes, with Winthrop a close a second at 4,739.
Looking ahead, Winthrop said that he believes the new council will mesh well together.
"I certainly would like to believe that we would continue on to the new year, even with two new members on the council," he said, adding that he believed he's earned a full term as mayor.