Importance of voting rings especially true for local family

Importance of voting rings especially true for local family

The entire Keyser family of Sayles Avenue in Pawtucket now understands better than ever the importance of voting after their candidate, Ama Amponsah, won election to the City Council by two votes. The family has designed this sign encouraging people to vote. From left are David Keyser and his two daughters, Elizabeth, 9, and Charlotte, 14. (Breeze photo by Charles Lawrence)

PAWTUCKET – For two voters in the state’s closest political race of 2020, the importance of voting is ringing especially true after they cast the deciding ballots on who will represent them in local government.

And while there are many others in City Council District 5 who could tell similar stories to the one from David and Kate Keyser, of 1 Sayles Ave. in Oak Hill, they say their own experience has gotten them more engaged in the political process than ever.

Dave Keyser has long said no to political signs in his yard, citing in part past election shenanigans in the neighborhood, but last Friday, at the request of his wife and daughters, the family put up a sign that simply states: “Go Vote.” The sign now has special significance for the family after they effectively decided the winner of the District 5 seat.

The Keysers were generally aware of the dynamics of the winner-take-all District 5 primary leading up to it, and were leaning toward voting for longtime local business owner and City Sergeant Ama Amponsah over fellow Democrat Janie Seguí Rodríguez to replace the departing Meghan Kallman, who ended up winning her race for Senate District 15 representing Pawtucket and North Providence.

They said they liked that eventual winner Amponsah had some of the experience they felt would be needed to get things done during difficult times while not getting pushed around, as well as the knowledge of the neighborhood, but were keeping an open mind.

When former District 5 Councilor Mary Bray sent out a letter offering to connect them with Amponsah, and they got to meet her in person, their thoughts about Amponsah were confirmed and they voted for her.

Amponsah was initially ahead of Seguí Rodríguez by three votes after the initial tally, but a recount by the Rhode Island Board of Elections found a final two-vote margin between the candidates, or 471-469.

The Keysers say they’re not sure if an in-person conversation from Seguí Rodríguez would have convinced them otherwise. They said seeing the effort of Amponsah and Bray was impressive.

“It’s an example to all young people that we still have a voice, that one vote matters,” Keyser said. “We’re very far from special,” he added, saying many other couples put their two votes in as well.

Keyser said the person Amponsah should be thanking the most for her close win is Bray, who leads the Democratic City Committee. He said Bray had extra clout with their family because of all that she did for them when she was representing the district.

There’s no doubt that the future is female in politics, say the Keysers, but one can’t just say that without making sure the right women are being put into government. Part of knowing who the right person is is hearing from them in person, he said.

To illustrate that point, Keyser said he also voted for challenger Agi Gai-Kah in the at-large race, saying it was mostly because she showed up at their home to share her ideas for the seat.