By Cary Shuman
Calling the stakes “enormous” in the Tuesday, May 19 Proposition 2 1/2 override referendum, Richard D. Honan has been out and about, leading the Winthrop Cares organization into the final days before an election that will determine the immediate future of the town.
By day, Honan is the owner of the Honan Sign Company at 66 Crest Ave. that has been in existence for 37 years. The 61-year-old Winthrop resident has also gained considerable acclaim and much-deserved tributes for his noble endeavor of sending care packages to the men and women in the United States military who are serving the country in foreign lands.
But his busy days have been even busier since his decision to become chairman of Winthrop Cares, a group of Winthrop citizens who have come together to help organize a successful override.
The Winthrop Cares organization was launched in March. Honan credits Pat Milano, Gus Martucci, Bill Holden, Joseph Ferrino Jr., Toni -Ann Cherico and Cathy DelVento for being the founding members of the group.
Honan was sought out early on to be the chairman of the group. “I laughed because I’ve never been in anything political, and I said, ‘Why would I want to get into anything like that,’’’ said Honan, the father of two daughters, Amy 33, and Christine, 30, who also works at the sign company.“But I thought I could bring a lot to the campaign by people who know me and know what I do and what I stand for.”
Honan said being chairman of the group has been a lot of work, but he has no regrets about leading the hectic, two-month run to the May 19 election. “There are meetings four or five nights a week, and now we’re into the stretch of daily [and nightly] sign holdings. I get up at 3 in the morning to write out speeches for the meetings. It’s almost a full-time job,” he said.
Honan said the Winthrop Cares Organization (WinthropCares.org) was formed specifically for the override election in which residents will vote yes or no on 10 separate ballot questions.
The organization’s volunteers have participated in two house-to-house informational literature “drops” in town and have a postcard mailing set for this week. The group also holds signs on the Belle Isle Bridge and the entrance to the town by Short Beach.
“I’d have to say the response [during the Vote ‘Yes’ for All sign holdings] has been very encouraging,” related Honan. “A honk [by a motorist] isn’t a vote, but we’re getting a great response from residents.”
Honan is optimistic about Tuesday’s vote. “I’m a very positive person. I really feel we’re going to pass all 10 of the questions, but I’m in a sheltered thing, because I’m surrounded by supporters. But if Monday morning at the bridge was an indication, I feel very good.”
Honan said he has read all the letters – pro and con – about the override that have appeared in the Sun-Transcript each week. “Not everyone has to agree with our group. We have our view. Sometimes I read the letters and they don’t make a lot of sense to me. Alex [Mavrakos] and Cindy [DiLoreto] have their views, and we have ours. We try to provide accurate information, the factual amounts of money that the override is going to cost, and to let people know in a factual way what are the ramifications if it doesn’t pass. I like to say it’s kind of an oxymoron – we can’t afford not to pass it.”
As in virtually every election, the No. 1 priority is making sure that residents come out to vote. “The biggest thing is getting people to vote. If we can just get people to vote, we can win this. We need 6,000 people to vote. If everyone who has kids in school would just vote Tuesday [May 19], we could win the whole thing,” he said.
This Saturday, the Winthrop Cares Organization is doing a townwide cleanup at 10 locations locally “to show that we care as individuals about our town,” he said.
On Election Day, Honan and his group will be coordinating an organized get-out-the-vote operation that will include sign holders, phone banks, poll checkers, and rides to the polls.
“We say, ‘Vote yes for all’ – for everything,” said Honan.
Though Honan said he’s enjoyed his first full foray into the town’s political scene, he eschewed any talk about his own run for office. “I’ll be happy when this [override election] ends, but I’m going to miss it. I must spend 25-30 hours a week on this. I feel our effort is coming to a peak at the right time,” he added.