WOONSOCKET – The time to act is now if you’re considering running for Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt’s former spot in the R.I. House of Representatives.
The two-day declaration period to get on the ballot began at 8:30 a.m. today at the Board of Canvassers in City Hall. The deadline is tomorrow afternoon at 4.
A special election for the District 49 House seat is scheduled for Feb. 25. If a primary is needed, it will be held on Jan. 21.
When the likelihood of a vacancy first became apparent, a half-dozen individuals said they might run for the position. As of this morning, however, only two of those still appeared committed to getting into the fray. One is Douglas Brown, a prominent businessman who served on the School Committee many years ago; the other, Woonsocket Fire Department Capt. Michael A. Morin, who is also president of the firefighter’s union. Morin ran unsuccessfully against Baldelli-Hunt in 2012.
Of course, others who haven’t already made their intentions plain could do so before the close of business on Friday.
Baldelli-Hunt said Wednesday she’ll be watching the race very closely and will, eventually, endorse a candidate.
“That district is very important to me,” said Baldelli-Hunt. “It’s important that whoever holds that position understands the needs of the city and the importance of working together in a unified fashion.”
Baldelli-Hunt, a Democrat, was the District 49 state representative in the house for roughly seven years, resigning midway through her fourth term after defeating former Mayor Leo T. Fontaine in the city election. She resigned on Dec. 3, the day she was sworn in as mayor.
House Speaker Gordon Fox has pledged to support whichever candidate Baldelli-Hunt gets behind.
The declaration period is actually the first of a two-part process candidates must complete in order to secure a spot on the ballot for the election. After filling out declaration papers, candidates must submit to the Board of Canvassers the signatures of at least 50 properly registered voters, according to Estelle Corriveau, the manager.
The signatures must be returned to the board between Dec. 18 and Dec. 24.
To count toward the total, all of the signatures must come from voters who live in District 49, which includes four polling places: the Middle School at Hamlet, Kennedy Manor, Parkview Manor and Fairmount Heights.
Follow Russ Olivo on Twitter @russolivo