I wasn’t surprised to see City Councilor Kevin Scarpati become unaffiliated. The former Republican made the change Friday and it took effect for Monday’s council meeting.
Many weren’t surprised. Some questioned whether it would ever happen.
Things seemed to be sailing smoothly during Scarpati’s first two years on the council. The change of Manny Santos as mayor and councilor Lenny Rich did shake things up in the city though. Scarpati wasn’t completely on board with things at that first council meeting and things have been shaky ever since.
I could rattle off a list of things that irked some committee members. And sometimes it irks a few, sometimes it’s a lot. But if it happens enough, people start getting more and more upset. That was probably the case here.
A vote here, the change of the vote, another vote that upsets the minority party members and it got frustrating. People write in to support Scarpati on a daily basis and they write in not a fan of him on a daily basis. People spoke with him before the City Council meeting last night to say he did a noble thing and others question his vote. He is clearly sick of having to hear all of it though and doesn’t want the spotlight and what comes with that right now.
I’ll clarify. Kevin welcomes the limelight. He sings, he acts, he coaches, he’s involved with politics. But this isn’t the spotlight he wants right now - caught between the two caucuses whether it is intentional or not.
Whether or not it crossed his mind, jumping straight to the Democrats would just put him out there looking like a traitor. Staying on the RTC opens him up to continued bashing from some members of his own party. It isn’t everybody upset with him, however. I spoke with Liz Whitney yesterday who seemed disappointed in the decision, but said they are still on good terms. I spoke with Dan Brunet who seemed disappointed Kevin didn’t speak with him directly beforehand. But I also spoke with Kevin who seemed disappointed more wasn’t being done to unite the party.
So where does he stand? Alone. Without a party.
For the next year, that may not be a bad thing. It gives Scarpati time to separate himself from the drama. He can walk away from the back and forth and vote however he wants without anything in the back of his head.
But a year from now they will be endorsing candidates for City Council. At the age of 25 (now) and only one term in, I doubt Kevin is done with politics. It certainly helps to get a party endorsing him. I don’t know that the Republicans will jump at the opportunity and I doubt We the People will. Then again, I’m not sure what the options at the time will be for the Republicans. Candidate Ron Perry lost by a pretty wide margin last time. John Thorp switched parties and dropped out of the race for health issues. Would they try running somebody else?
As for the Democrats, they remain an open possibility, for now. Last time they opted not to run Thorp despite his interest. He was told he didn’t fall enough in line with what the Dems believe in and had some questionable votes. Kevin, on the other hand, seems to have the support of public safety right now, he has had education support and he is well-known in the community. It might be tough to pass up endorsing him and getting a candidate who may not lean to the far left, but one who might fall toward the middle of the Republicans and Democrats.
He probably put it best when he said he isn’t sure what will happen 6 months from now, let alone a year. I don’t think major changes will happen, but you never know.
Either way, a sitting councilor changing his party is an interesting move. It’s one I anticipated at some point based on the way he was feeling and my interviews with him. But because I assumed something was coming doesn’t mean I expected it. With a mostly quiet summer, I could have easily seen things quieting down and reverting back to what they were.
But then, on a quiet Friday afternoon, Kevin shook that up. That’s politics for ya.