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NARRAGANSETT, R.I.— Sixteen residents are on the ballot in Narragansett in the nonpartisan primary race for Town Council.

Primary voting ends Sept. 8 and the top 10 vote-getters will earn a spot on the Nov. 3 general election ballot. Voters will choose up to five candidates in both the primary and general elections.

The council race in 2020 is being seen largely as a referendum on the town’s stalled plans for a new library at the former Belmont/IGA market building at the Pier.

In addition to the figurative referendum, two actual questions will appear on the Nov. 3 ballot by way of voter initiatives that seek to solidify the Belmont market site for the new library and prevent any sale of the building without voter approval.

While current Council President Matthew Mannix is seeking a state Senate seat, four incumbents hope to return to the council.

Councilors Jesse Pugh and Patrick Murray are running for reelection with Council president pro tempore Jill Lawler and councilman Rick Lema.

Pugh and Murray have pointed to voter approval of a $5.8 million bond in 2016 and the subsequent purchase of the Belmont by the town as reasons to support the project. Lawler and Lema argued that the move was a bad deal for the town and voted with Mannix to sell the Belmont building site, but the move was blocked in court.

Entering the primary contest are several supporters of the proposal to occupy the Belmont building, including former Council President Susan Cicilline Buonanno and Winters B. Hames III.

Hames, chairman of the Narragansett Democratic Town Committee, indicated last year that he intended to run for council.

Buonanno, who was council president when the town bought the Belmont site, has formed the Love Your Library coalition and also drove the efforts to get the referendum questions on the ballot.  

“Our mission is to advocate for a new Narragansett Library at the Belmont building. We have worked tirelessly to save this newly purchased property from being sold,”  Buonanno said.

Laurie Kelly, president of the Board of Trustees of the Maury Loontjens Memorial Library, also is on the ballot for council. Kelly has frequently clashed with Mannix and the other Belmont opponents on the council, and warned that the town was in danger of losing state aid after the council cut its share of town funds for the library’s budget.

Also on the primary ballot are Joseph Robenhymer, David K. Avedisian, Michael J. Millen Jr., Deborah A. Kopech, Sara L. Benn, Ewa M. Dzwierzynski, Steven B. Belaus, Steven J. Ferrandi and Meghan E. Murray.

The race for District 34 in the House of Representatives has two Democrats in the primary. Incumbent Teresa A. Tanzi faces Gina M. Giramma.

Democrats vying for the District 36 state Senate seat are Alana DiMario and Ellen S. Waxman.

Voting in the primary takes place Sept. 8.

Voters who would prefer to  hand-deliver their ballot rather than mailing it may place the sealed envelope containing the ballot in the secure receptacle in the Town Hall lobby during normal business hours. There is a lock box with limited capacity attached to the front of Town Hall for after-hours deliveries. All ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Sept. 8. The deadline to apply for a primary mail ballot was Aug. 18.

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