Person of the Year: Jean Ann Guliano
Guliano was front and center on almost every issue in 2010.
2010 was a year of great accomplishment and considerable consternation for the local schools, which are the crown jewel of this community.
The new Cole Middle School project began and the High School improvement project was completed. The once-acrimonious high school fields project finally came on line. The school custodians were outsourced before a judicially-imposed moderator implored the School Committee to reverse its decision. A new football coach was hired amid community outrage, and a new superintendent adjusted to his new job.
In some ways, 2010 was the best of times, and the worst of times for East Greenwich schools. That said, anyone who chaired the School Committee in 2010 would have to be considered a candidate for East Greenwich Person of the Year.
But Jean Ann Guliano, EG Patch's unanimous selection as Person of the Year, did so much more than just serve as chair the School Committee through all of this and more. In many ways, she led the entire community.
At times, it seemed as if she were the main character in every drama playing out in town — be it the fields project, the custodian outsourcing, the budget or the school construction projects. Indeed, she even suffered a water-damaged home in the March flood, and had to move her family into a hotel for a few days. To top it all off, she ran for first Lt. Governor, then the state senate, on the new Moderate Party ticket.
Eventually, she took on so much that she had to pull out of public life after spending time in the hospital for stomach problems — events that in and of themselves were somewhat defining local moments of 2010.
Leaders aren't always popular, and politicians that serve during interesting times aren't always reelected. Guliano's positions on the biggest issues of 2010 can be debated, and not infrequently they were. But her commitment to her constituents, her tireless work ethic and her passion for this town cannot be. Ultimately, it is someone of that ilk who will have the most profound effects on a small town such as ours. And if you think back on the last 364 days, it's hard to argue that, in East Greenwich, anyone played a bigger role than Jean Ann Guliano.
Honorable mentions: Governor Donald Carcieri, for cutting state funding to cities and towns. Public Works Director Joe Duarte, for his leadership during the March floods, and his role in a variety of public projects in town. Michael Lenihan, who retired from the state senate after representing East Greenwich there for 20 years. Deidre Gifford, for her leadership during the custodial outsourcing debate, and becoming the chairperson on the Committee after Guliano resigned. Town Council President Michael Isaacs and New England Tech President Richard Gouse, for their roles in coming to a town/gown agreement between the municipality and the school.