WOONSOCKET â€” Local voters did their job during Tuesdayâ€™s non-partisan primary for City Council, pruning the field of 15 candidates by one, and may also have provided an informal forecast for the November 8th election.
The small turnout of 2001 voters decided to drop perennial election candidate Michael E. Moniz from the list of contenders and also named City Council President John F. Ward the top vote getter despite his placement of last on the ballot list.
Voters were asked to pick only seven of the 15 candidates listed on the ballot and those voting more would see their ballots rejected until seven or few candidates were marked on a reissued ballot.
Ward collected 1,074 votes in the primary which amounted to 53.7 percent of the votes cast, according to as yet uncertified city Board of Canvassers results.
Political newcomer Robert R. Moreau, a retired city police detective and head of the Woonsocket Housing Authorityâ€™s security division, came in second with a tally of 1,066 votes, also a 53 percent tally.
Incumbents Daniel M. Gendron, with 1,041 votes, Christopher A. Beauchamp, with 978, and Roger G. Jalette Sr., collecting 820 votes, took the third, fourth and fifth rankings in the primary.
School Committee Chairman, Marc A. Dubois, also a retired city police detective, took sixth place with a tally of 758 votes, and former city finance director Albert G. Brien, took seventh with 674 votes.
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Roland N. Michaud, a local businessman, placed eighth with 649 votes, incumbent Councilwoman Stella G. Brien, ninth with 641, and James C. Cournoyer, a frequent commentator at council meetings, 10th with 629 votes.
Philip E. Labrecque was 11th with 593 votes, past mayoral contender and local real estate developer Steven Lima, 12th with 585, Kathryn LeBlanc, a member of the Charter Review Commission, 13th with 568 votes, and Garrett S. Mancieri, secured the 14th spot on the November election ballot with a total of 474 votes. Moniz was left off the ballot as a result of his tally of 239 votes for 15th place.
Whether the initial showing of support sticks for the Nov. 8th city election remains to be seen.
The light voter turnout of just 8.5 percent of the cityâ€™s 23,610 eligible voters came on a beautiful fall day, and despite the availability of 16 polling places throughout the city. The low primary interest, down from about 4,000 voters participating in the last city primary, made have been influenced by the lack of an opponent to Mayor Leo T. Fontaineâ€™s election bid and the even number of 10 candidates running for the five available seats on the School Committee to be decided Nov. 8.
Board of Canvassers Chairman James N. Allam, himself a former city councilman, said the results of the primary may not change significantly for candidates at the very top of Tuesdayâ€™s poll but there is still plenty of opportunity for those in lower showings to campaign their way upwards.
Few of the candidates had campaigned heavily before the primary and that may well change now that the election ballot is set, according to Allam.
â€śOnce they go out and talk to people and tell them what their outlook is, they might change peopleâ€™s minds into voting for them,â€ť Allam said.
There is also the possibly of a greater election turnout on Nov. 8 and that could change the standings as well, he noted.
â€śYou could see a lot more people because you are bringing the School Committee candidates into the November election,â€ť he said.
The election results include 134 paper ballots that were also tabulated by the Canvassers Tuesday night. Candidates have until 4 p.m. Wednesday to request a recount as allowed under the stateâ€™s election laws.