Stonington man has antidote to contentious political climate

One of the posters that have been put up around town encouraging residents to elect jazz bandleader Charlie Holland as Stonington's unofficial mayor. (Courtesy Albert Kausch)
One of the posters that have been put up around town encouraging residents to elect jazz bandleader Charlie Holland as Stonington's unofficial mayor. (Courtesy Albert Kausch)

Stonington — With Republicans and Democrats battling each other across the country to win seats in the Nov. 6 election, a local man has begun a feel-good effort to elect local jazz band leader and World War II veteran Charlie Holland as the town’s unofficial mayor.

Albert Kausch, a University of Rhode Island professor who directs the school’s Plant Biotechnology Laboratory, has launched a “Vote for Charlie” initiative, complete with campaign signs and ballot boxes at several restaurants in the borough.

“In this season, this election, which is particularly contentious for Republicans and Democrats, a vote for Charlie seemed like the right thing to do,” he said. “Why wouldn’t you vote for him?”

“It’s a feel-good thing that could be an example for other communities,” Kausch said. “It’s about recognizing someone. It’s a feel-good story.”

The 93-year-old Holland, who was born in Pawcatuck and lives on Main Street in the borough, where he remains a popular figure, has led the Charlie Holland Band for decades. He and his band still perform and many people remember his popular Sunday jazz brunches at the former Skipper’s Dock restaurant in the borough.

Ballot boxes are located at the Breakwater Restaurant, Noah’s, Water Street Cafe (where Holland's portrait hangs on the wall), Cove Ledge Package Store, DogWatch Cafe, the Velvet Mill and the Portuguese Holy Ghost Society. Kausch said there are voting forms and pens at each ballot box and residents also can submit their comments about Holland.

Holland grew up in Pawcatuck and attended local schools. During World War II he served as a tail gunner with the Army Air Corps and flew on 18 B-17 missions over Germany, Holland, France and Belgium. After his discharge in March 1946, he attended Syracuse University in New York, where he studied English literature, and he completed his degree at URI. For many years he worked for Chrysler.

A self-taught pianist, he formed the Charlie Holland Band while in high school. Two of his bandmates also are in their 90s.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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