A Hummel Report Investigation
More than a century of Republican control in Scituate ended on Election Day, as a team of independent candidates took four of the five top spots in this year’s council race. They did it combining a traditional town wide door-to-door campaign - walking together - supplemented by an aggressive social media strategy. This week: Jim Hummel talks with all four - who are promising big changes for this rural town of 10,000 when they take over next month.
On the Sunday morning after Thanksgiving Frederickson’s Farmstand Café in North Scituate was hopping - as dozens of people arrived with items to donate for a Veterans Clothing Drive. They also came to meet the four newly-elected members of the town council - doubling this day as organizers of the coat drive: Scituate’s self-proclaimed Independent Men - who ran a campaign unlike any other this rural town of 10,000 people has ever seen.
Mahoney: ``We feel as though that this community was screaming for a change.’’
John Mahoney is the leader of the pack: a residential home developer and former North Providence police officer who for years had had first-hand run-ins with town officials. Mahoney recruited three others to run with him as a team and the motto: Vote for 4.
They included Mike Payette, a retired West Warwick police officer; Nick Izzi, a longtime Scituate resident and business owner; and Scott Amaral, also a former West Warwick Police officer who Mahoney solicited to run after Amaral had his own encounter with the Republican-dominated council last spring.
More on that in a moment.
Over the summer the four launched a door-to-door campaign - with the goal of personally knocking on every one of the 4,600 households spread across 55 acres, in a town where the houses are often few and far between.
It took more time, but they campaigned as a team. And, in a town where regular news coverage is virtually non-existent, they took to social media, creating a Facebook page that provided a constant drumbeat against the current administration and its leader, Council President Charles Collins. They also published their own newspaper - paying for it to be delivered to every mailbox in town leading up to Election Day.
Mahoney: ``The oversight of our department heads, it doesn’t exist. Those are the things that forced me to take a hard look of how exactly this administration functions. That’s the beauty of our democracy.’’
That democracy resulted in the Independent Men taking four of the top five spots in a seven-person race, meaning an end to more than 100 years of Republican control on the council.
Mahoney: ``I never owned a Facebook account until this campaign. It’s just something I never really had an interest in, but I knew that it would be a necessary ingredient to being successful in this campaign and it was huge. My first friend was Mr. Collins on my Facebook.’’
Hummel: ``Did you friend him?’’
Mahoney: ``I did. I friended him.’’
Hummel: ``And he accepted.’’
Hummel: ``Do you think he regretted that?’’