NORTH SMITHFIELD — Town Administrator Paulette Hamilton won re-election easily Tuesday night and thanks to local voters, will also keep her job.
A ballot question that would have changed Hamilton’s elected administrator’s post to a Town Council-appointed town manager was soundly defeated by local voters turning out at the polls, 2,980 opposed to 1,507 in favor.
The administrator proposal, Question 5, was most significant of a list of eight charter questions placed on the ballot. The remaining items covered largely technical and wording changes for the charter.
Her victory in both the Town Administrator election in which she was challenged by Ernest H. Alter and a write-in campaign started by J. Shelton Whittle, and the defeat of Question 5 had Hamilton feeling very happy at Gator’s Pub Restaurant on Victory Highway Tuesday evening.
“I just want to thank you all for your hard work. I couldn’t have done this without you,” Hamilton told her supporters as the final results were tabulated on a poster board by her son Dalton and her campaign workers. Hamilton’s mother Olive Savard was also in attendance as were several of the town officials elected Tuesday.
“I appreciate all your faith in me and I look forward to another two years of hard work,” Hamilton said. After stepping back from the tally board, Hamilton said she felt “exhilarated” that voters had chosen to support her for a second term in office. The administrator credited her work to keep town finances in line with available revenues as part of the reason for her election day support.
Despite facing the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression, Hamilton said the town has been able to squeak by with a slight surplus in its budget and also to improve its bond rating to +AA.
Hamilton said she has also been working with the Mayoral Coalition representing 14 communities in the state to find ways to save money and improve services. “We are working together because we know the only sure fire way to change things is to begin at the state level,” she said.
There was also change on the Town Council Tuesday night and Hamilton said she looks forward to working with that panel as well.
“It means we have another opportunity to learn how to communicate with each other and to do what is best for the town,” she said.
In the Town Council race, two incumbent members of the panel, Lucien E. Benoit and Steven N. Biron lost their bids for re-election while another of the three incumbents seeking election, Paul J. Zwolenski, retained his seat.
Edward Yazbak, a past member and President of the Council, won a return to panel collecting the largest tally of votes, 2,584, according to early returns. Christine Charest, postmaster in Slatersville and a longtime past member of the School Committee came in second with 2,442 votes. Thomas McGee, a local plumber making his first bid for political office placed third with 2,293 votes. Kimberly Alves came in fourth with 2,179 votes and Zwolenski, placed fifth with his tally of 2,017 votes.
Merredythe B. Nadeau missed a seat on the panel with a sixth place finish while collecting 1,931 votes, Benoit collected 1,897, Biron 1,873 votes, and Patrick J. Jasmin came in ninth with 1,110.
Two seats up on the School Committee were filled by George R. Hemond and Donna Narodowy without opposition in the election.
McGee, who joined Hamilton’s at his family’s restaurant and was applauded by his brother Scott after his win was known, said he was surprised and happy to have a seat on the Council.
“I hope I can do a good job,” McGee said. “It looks like we have some new leadership and I look forward to working with them. It is a good step in the right direction for the town and I thank the voters for supporting me,” he said.
Although the charter question seeking a change in the Administrator’s position was voted down Tuesday, Hamilton noted that she still plans to wait to see if any challenge of that decision is filed before calling it officially dead.
The measure did not include an effective date when placed on the ballot and it remains to be seen if supporters of the measure will challenge that point with an appeal, she said.
But Hamilton said she would not let that possibility diminish the vote of support she received from local residents on Tuesday. “At this point, I am looking forward to another two years of service to the town,” Hamilton said as more well wishes began to arrive at her election night gathering.