Eight candidates have signed up to run for School Committee – eight. For three seats. It’s hard to complain about apathy this election year, at least on the school side. (The Town Council race is less rosy picture, with five Republicans but no Democrats running.)
Here’s a rundown of the candidates in alphabetical order. They must collect the signatures of at least 50 registered East Greenwich voters by 4 p.m. July 13 to earn a spot on the ballot.
If all four Democrats submit enough signatures, there will be a primary Sept. 11 to narrow the field to three.
Deidre Gifford, a Democrat, currently serves as chair of the East Greenwich School Committee. She is running for a second term. Gifford is an obstetrician/gynecologist. She is the medical director at the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services.
Gifford is married to David Gifford, the former state Health Department director. They have one son who is in college.
“I am running for SC again because I'd like to continue the work that has been started during my first term,” Gifford wrote in an email. “This includes continued collaboration with our staff to implement the recommendations of the Commission on Excellence and continued collaboration with the town to insure that the schools are adequately and responsibly resourced to support the best education possible for our kids.”
Gifford is endorsed by the EG Democratic Town Committee.
Domenic Marcone, who is running as an independent, worked in the Warwick public schools for 40 years, first as a phys. ed. teacher and then as athletic director at Pilgrim High School. He is married to Donna Marcone and has two children and three grandchildren.
“I’d bring a wealth of experience” to the School Committee, Marcone said in an interview. “I’m pro education. I think I have a lot to add as both a teacher and an administrator.”
Marcone cited his experience handling the budget for athletics at Pilgrim. “All the school systems are facing budget crises,” he said. “Trying to stay within the budget and also maintain good schools” is the challenge.
Carolyn Mark, a Democrat, is president of the Rhode Island Chapter of the National Organization for Women and a founding board member of the East Greenwich Education Foundation. She and her husband, Bill Stone, a lawyer, have two children who attend EG public schools.
“Honestly, it starts from a place of gratitude,” said Mark about why she decided to run for School Committee. “We moved here for the schools. My kids are getting a fabulous education here and I’m grateful.”
Now that her children are a little older, Mark said, it seemed like a good time to run. “I’m passionate about education. This just seems like a natural next step.”
Mark is endorsed by the EG Democratic Town Committee.
Paul Martin, a Republican, is running for a fourth term on the School Committee. He is a retired Cranston school teacher. Although he never had children of his own, Martin said, "like 'Goodbye Mr. Chips,' I've had thousands of children as a high school teacher for 30 years."
Martin stands by his record and said earlier this week he's running again because he wants to reduce the number of the School Committee members from 7 to 5. While that is something that would have to be changed in the Town Charter, Martin said he would have more visibility making the argument as a sitting member of the committee.
In addition, he said, "I think I have probably a better knowledge of what's going on in the schools" then any of the other School Committee members.
He did not gain the endorsement of the EG Republican Town Committee for this election.
Eugene Quinn, a Democrat, is a math professor at Stonehill College in Massachusetts. From Pennsylvania, Quinn went to Providence College and never left Rhode Island. He and his wife do not have children of their own, but they did have a foster child who graduated from East Greenwich High School.
Quinn said the Town of East Greenwich and the schools are well run. “As far as motivation, we have lived in EG for 35 years and have always felt the town was well run, and feel that it's time now to contribute to that effort, particularly given the challenging environment for public education and continued economic difficulties."
Quinn is endorsed by the EG Democratic Town Committee.
Clark Smith, a Republican, is chief engineer at the State House for Capital T.V. He became involved in state GOP activities during the 2010 elections and serves as a delegate to the state central committee. He and his wife, Liz Smith, have two children.
“I wanted to give back to the community,” Smith said. Noting that his two children have been through the EG schools, he said, “We were very satisfied with their education.” He did note, however, what he sees as one area lagging behind, that of civics and history.
“What I do bring is a management background and a technology management background,” Smith said.
Smith is endorsed by the EG Republican Town Committee.
Brian Warburton, a Democrat, teaches English at Attleboro High School. He and his wife have two children at Frenchtown School. Warburton is a Providence native.
"Several friends approached me asking me to run for School Committee due to my years in front of a classroom as a teacher, my commitment to technology in education, and my role as a parent of two children enrolled in the EG school system," Warburton wrote in an email. "After a great deal of thoughtful consideration I decided to submit my paperwork."
In addition, he added, "I’m nearing the completion of my M.Ed. in Instructional Technology and Design, which has also provided me with a unique viewpoint from which to develop a technology roadmap for our schools."
Warburton is new to the political scene and not a member of the EG Democratic Town Committee.
Bill Wray, a Republican, is chief operating officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island. He’s married to Nancy Wray. They have grown children and grandchildren.
Wray did not submit nomination papers. Rather, his name was submitted during the endorsement process by the Republican Town Committee.
Wray is endorsed by the EG Republican Town Committee.
[This story was amended at 9 p.m., July 6, and again at 8 a.m., July 7.]