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Voters check in at the Wickford Middle School polling place before casting their ballots in the primary election on Sept. 8.

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — While mail-in and early voting ballots are still being counted, former North Kingstown School Committee Chairwoman Kim Page led in-person voting for the Town Council Democratic primary with 800 votes, or 18.5 percent. Town Council President Greg Mancini, social worker Katie Anderson, retired police officer Jack Kliever and MOCingbird CEO Brad Artery were the other leaders in in-person ballots as of Wednesday. 

“It feels good,” Page said of receiving the most votes. “I wasn’t expecting that... it’s very nice to see that the people in my town supported me.”

Trailing the vote count on Wednesday were Rickey Thompson and incumbent Richard Welch, the former Town Council president and one of the longest tenured members of the legislative body. Both candidates were endorsed by the North Kingstown Democratic Town Committee along with Page and Artery.

For in person voting totals, Mancini was second with 748 (17.3 percent), Anderson third with 718 (16.6 percent), Kliever fourth with 634 (14.6 percent), Artery fifth with 594 (13.7 percent), Thompson sixth with 423 (9.8 percent) and Welch seventh with 411 (9.5 percent).

While Page said that she knew there were a lot of votes that hadn’t been counted yet as of primary night, she hoped that the numbers would hold in her favor.

“I do think they will hold,” Page said. “It may jostle things up a little bit as to who comes in first, second (and so on), but I think that for the most part things will hold and I really appreciate the people who did vote.”

The five top vote-getters were supportive of each other’s campaigns, collectively calling themselves the #fiveforwardNK slate online and receiving the endorsements of several local and state organizations such as the National Education Association North Kingstown, NK Students for Candidates and the Rhode Island Building & Constructions Trade Council, as well as creating palm cards together.

“Our team worked hard and we ran a clean race and I’m proud of them,” Mancini said, adding he felt proud and “cautiously optimistic” about the final results.

“Greg Mancini has been somebody who’s been a really great organizer in making sure that the vote was out,” Page said. “He really put a lot of this together in terms of organizing us and having us canvass doors and making sure that palm cards are out and I really feel a lot of gratitude that Greg was organizing us.”

“She’s got a great reputation, it showed, and the results speak for her reputation,” Mancini added on Page. 

As for the other three leading Democrats, two are political newcomers while one is a returning candidate. Anderson is a social worker, experience which she believes will help her be a better Town Council member if elected in November.

“I know how to truly listen to and respect other people’s lived experiences, strengths, challenges and needs, and how to advocate accordingly,” Anderson previously told The Independent. 

Anderson, along with Mancini, was endorsed by the North Kingstown Firefighters’ Association Local 1651, as well as the Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus, the Rhode Island National Organization of Women and Substance Use Policy, Education, and Recovery PAC.

Artery is the CEO of North Kingstown-based healthcare technology startup MOCingbird and also in his first run for political office. A U.S. Navy veteran, Artery is a business school instructor at Providence College and Rhode Island College. 

Kliever is a retired Newport Police sergeant, and was endorsed by the Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus. He also ran in 2016 and 2018.

As for Thompson and Welch, while both endorsed by the town party, their campaigns also were supportive of each other’s efforts and often critical of the other five candidates for what they considered to be outside influence from different parts of the state and beyond. 

If victorious, Page, Mancini, Anderson, Kliever and Artery, where they’ll face off against three Republicans, incumbents Mary Brimer and Kerry McKay, as well as Zoning Board Chairman Randy Wietman and independent incumbent Kevin Maloney, for the five seats on the next North Kingstown Town Council.

“I’m very much a candidate who tries to work to bring people together and so that will be the challenge in going forward (in) making sure that we have a group of five people who want to work towards the same elements for our town,” Page said.

Overall, Mancini said he was happy with the turnout, but said he wants to see further involvement come November.

“When I started running for office, my ultimate goal was to increase voter participation, and based on the early returns, voter participation seems to be increasing substantially,” Mancini said. “Having said that, we still have a long way to go.”

The general election will be held on Nov. 3. For more information on the primary results, visit elections.ri.gov.

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