Editor’s Note: Due to an error with the Secretary of State’s website, an earlier version of this story omitted several candidates. It is being re-run here to correct that mistake. The previous story also incorrectly omitted the candidacy of Robert Craven Jr. for state Senate. The Independent regrets the errors.
With the June 24 deadline for candidates to file to run for office now past, the Sept. 8 primaries for both local and statewide elections are now set with a mix of some old and new faces, and a few surprises as well.
In North Kingstown, 11 candidates are vying for the five spots on the Town Council, with six Democrats, three Republicans and two independents. All four incumbent members of the council are vying for reelection, with Stacy Elliott having stepped down from her position as Town Councilor effective June 30 and another person to fill the position for the remainder of her term has yet to be named.
For the Democrats, perhaps the biggest surprise was the decision by the North Kingstown Democratic Town Committee to not award one of its four endorsements to Town Council President Greg Mancini, who with 6,543 votes in the 2018 election was the highest vote getter of any candidate. He also noted he had been removed as an administrator from the committee’s Facebook page.
“I was surprised by it and that’s all I’ve got to say,” Mancini said. “I will say that I think the chairman of the committee (James Grundy) did an excellent job with the process and the chairman of the committee has been a good chairman and I think he’s tried to be fair and I lost.”
The four endorsements went to incumbent Richard Welch, as well as returning candidate Rickey Thompson, newcomer Brad Artery and Kim Page, with the former North Kingstown School Committee Chairwoman having switched party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.
All candidates were asked if they would end their campaigns if they did not receive the party endorsement. Mancini said he would not.
“I think the biggest question of this campaign is are 15 people in a town Democratic Party going to influence the (over 20,000) citizens in our community and the (6,543) people who voted for me last election,” Mancini said. “I was the top vote getter of the 2018 election, I am the existing Town Council president. I believe, subjectively, that this Town Council has done more for this town than probably the past three to four Town Councils put together.”
The unendorsed Democrats are Mancini and newcomer Katherine Anderson.
For the Republicans, it’s a reunion of sorts from the 2018 election as current councilors Mary Brimer and Kerry McKay are joined by Randy Weitman, with them previously running a joint campaign in 2018.
“We got the band back,” Brimer said with a laugh. “Brimer-Weitman-McKay is back.”
Brimer said that the Republicans were feeling optimistic and confident about their chances and that McKay and her had accomplished many of the set goals they had from the previous election, in particular addressing the town’s historic buildings and holding their line on taxes.
Brimer also agreed with much of Mancini’s sentiment regarding the current council.
“When the new council came in, we were able to work in a bipartisan manner, we were able to get these meetings over in two, two and a half hours and in a very friendly and warm manner of hosting,” Brimer said.
The two independents running are former councilor Kevin Maloney and
Over on the North Kingstown School Committee, Chairman Gregory Blasbalg and member Lisa Hildebrand, both Democrats, are halfway through their four year terms, while Democrats Jacob Mather and Jennifer Hoskins and Republican Bob Jones are seeking reelection.
Each of the two major parties also have a newcomer to the race, with Democrat Jennifer Lima and Republican Hannah Zangari seeking seats on the committee.
In South Kingstown, there will be some changes in store for sure on
the Town Council as Vice President Bryant C. Da Cruz and Councilor Joe
Viele are not seeking re-election. Democratic incumbents Abel G. Collins, the Town Council President, Deborah Kelso and Rory McEntee are all seeking re-election, while fellow Democrats Edward Myszak III and Jess Rose will look to join the council.
James Lathrop is the sole Republican to declare for the race, and five independents, Alex Petrucci, Charles Sweet, Ciro Scotti, David Laudati and Dorald Beasley, will compete in the general election.
Over on the South Kingstown School Committee, Democrats Stephanie Canter, the chair of the SKSC, and Michelle Brousseau are seeking reelection as well as incumbent independent Jacy Northup.
Democrats Christie Fish, Cadence Hansen and Paula Whitford will also be on the ballot.
No Republican declared for the race but five independents in addition to Northup are on the general election ballot: Jason Colvin, Karen Humes, Paula Bradley, Robert Hicks and Valerie Speredelozzi.
In Narragansett, where both the Town Council and School Committee are non-partisan, the most competitive of all local races in terms of the quantity of candidates is happening as 18 people are vying for the five seats on the Town Council.
Of the five current members, only Town Council President Matthew Mannix is not seeking re-election, instead opting to make an independent run at the open Senate seat for District 36. President Pro Tempure Jill Lawler and fellow incumbents Richard Lema, Patrick Murray and Jesse Pugh are all back on the ballot, where they are joined by challengers David Avedisian, Deborah Kopech, Ewa Dzweirzynski, Jason Colonies, Joseph Robenhymer, Laurie Kelly, Meghan Murray, Michael Millen Jr., Sara Benn, Steven Belaus, Steven Ferrandi, Susan Cicilline Buonanno and Winters B. Hames III.
For the Narragansett School Committee, eight candidates are in the running, including three of the five incumbents, Tammy McNeiece, Diane S. Nobles and Justin Skenyon. The five other challengers are Alexander Menzies, Alicia Vignali Henry, Ethan Farrell, Joshua LaPlante and Matthew Ulrickson.
For the state Senate, Democrat Alana DiMario received the party endorsement in the race to replace outgoing State Sen. James Sheehan in District 36, which covers North Kingstown and Narragansett. Also running for the seat as Democrats are Robert Craven Jr., the son of current State Rep. Robert Craven, and former North Kingstown Town Councilor Ellen Waxman. On the Republican side, former State Rep. Doreen Costa is the party’s candidate, while, as previously mentioned, Mannix is running as an independent.
Over in District 35, which covers other parts of North Kingstown and Narragansett in addition to South Kingstown and East Greenwich, incumbent Democrat State Sen. Bridget Valverde is facing Republican challenger Charles C. Callahan.
In District 37, which covers parts of South Kingstown and New Shoreham, Democratic incumbent state Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski faces a primary challenge from Maggie Kain, with the winner going on to face Republican David A. Tacey in the general election.
Three of the six local state representative races are uncontested, with Democrats Robert Craven and Carol McEntee and Republican state Rep. and House Minority Leader Blake Filippi not facing challengers in Districts 32, 33 and 36 respectively.
In District 31, which covers parts of North Kingstown and Exeter, Democratic State Rep. Julie Casimiro will face independent challenger Gregory Fetland.
In District 34, which covers parts of Narragansett and South Kingstown, State Rep. Teresa Tanzi faces two fellow Democrats in Gina Giramma and Kimberly McGovern, while Democratic State Rep. Kathleen Fogarty also receives an in party challenger in Spencer Dickinson in District 35, which covers other parts of South Kingstown.
At the state level, longtime Rep. Jim Langevin received a last minute surprise challenger in the Democratic primary as Providence assistant city solicitor Dylan Conley jumped in the race.
On the other side, Republicans Donald Frederick Robbio and Robert B. Lancia will compete for their party’s nomination.
In the Senate, Sen. Jack Reed will face Republican Allen Waters, a Providence native who joined the race in December after previously attempting a primary run as a Democrat against Sen. Ed Markey in Massachusetts.
Waters, the sole member of his party currently in the race, was initially endorsed by the Rhode Island Republican Party but had that endorsement rescinded on June 25 after reports alleged he was involved in a domestic disturbance in March 2019.
“I and other members of the Executive Committee heard from many in our party who were concerned about Mr. Waters after the reports came out,” Rhode Island Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Cienki wrote in a press release. “Due to this, it was decided to gather the Executive Committee and review the endorsement of Mr. Waters. If Mr. Waters does gather the required signatures, he can continue his campaign and run as a Republican, though it will be without the endorsement or support of the Rhode Island Republican Party.”
Independent candidate Lenine P. Camacho also declared for the race.
The state primary is set for Sept. 8, with the general election taking place on Nov. 3.