EAST GREENWICH, R.I. (WJAR) — A blue wave washed over the East Greenwich Town Council on Election Day, as residents voted five Democrats on board.
What currently is a GOP-led council will soon consist of all Democrats.
“It plays out in the press as a partisan flip, but it wasn’t that. We’re a bunch of individuals in a small community. People voted for the individuals,” council member-elect Mike Donegan said.
If elected, candidates told voters they would focus on trying to get the Town Manager Gayle Corrigan out. She’s been the center of controversy in town.
GOP members held a 4-1 Town Council majority heading into Tuesday. The lone Democrat, Dr. Mark Schwager, was the only incumbent re-elected.
“It was a huge surprise. With so many people running I had no idea where I would come in. I knew I had a 50/50 shot, but I honestly thought that at least one of the independents, or definitely one of the GOP members would make it in,” council member-elect Renu Englehart, said.
Incumbent Andy Deutsch is out, same with current Republican Town Council President Sue Cienki.
Cienki said she wishes the new council members well.
“The previous councilors were the whistleblowers,” Cienki said in a statement to NBC 10 News. “We uncovered a myriad of issues in town, including but not limited to, unsustainable labor contracts, side agreements that council neither knew about nor approved that cost the taxpayers $600,000, and escalating pension and OPEB costs. Tax increases will not fix these issues. The council had a plan to address these issues. The residents decided to go in a different direction, which I respect. I look forward to seeing what the new councilors plan will be to address all these issues.”
The two other sitting Republicans didn’t run for re-election.
Now, all eyes are on Corrigan. The soon-to-be new council members have indicated Corrigan might see herself out.
“She made that public statement but we haven’t spoken to her about it obviously, but what we’d like to do is handle this professionally,” said Donegan.
Corrigan has clashed with the fire fighters’ union over restructuring and the state ethics commission recently found probable cause regarding alleged ethics laws violations.
“There’s just a lack of respect I think from the current council and from the town manager towards the citizens of East Geeenwich,” said Englehart.
NBC 10 received no comment from Corrigan or the two GOP council members who lost reelection bids.