WOONSOCKET – Four candidates for mayor will face off in a primary on Oct. 8, but whether a runoff will be needed for City Council races is still unclear this morning.
Fourteen candidates for City Council returned nomination papers with the required number of signatures to become electoral candidates as the deadline to do so passed yesterday at 4 p.m. However, a 15th candidate – incumbent Councilman Marc Dubois – delivered nomination papers so close to the deadline that the Board of Canvassers was unable to count and validate the signatures on them.
The Board of Canvassers met immediately after the deadline to certify all the other mayoral and council candidates who submitted at least the minimum number of valid signatures – 100. But Estelle Corriveau, manager of the board, told members they must reconvene today to decide whether Dubois will be on the ballot.
“He delivered the signatures in time, but we do not have time to validate them today,” said Corriveau.
A former member of the School Committee who is serving his first term on the council, Dubois walked into the canvassers’ office 25 minutes before the deadline with three sheets of paper containing 119 signatures. Whether that’s enough to get on the ballot is an open question. They will be deemed valid only if the signatures are those of properly registered voters and the handwriting matches samples already on file, according to Corriveau.
Dubois had not been seen in the canvassers’ office before yesterday since he picked up his blank nomination papers two weeks ago, officials said. Dubois acknowledged that he was concerned about having gathered ample signatures to appear on the ballot, but he said he did the best he could to collect the minimum while simultaneously dealing with some unexpected family issues.
He said a granddaughter was born on Sept. 4, the day after the nomination period opened, and “there were complications.”
If Dubois is certified for the ballot, council candidates, too, will face off in the primary, because his candidacy would break the cap for a normal election, which is 14 contenders for the seven-member board. If not, there will be a primary only for mayoral contenders, and the council races will be decided, along with whoever is left standing in the mayor’s contest, in the general election on Nov. 5.
Though five candidates took out papers to run for mayor, only four of those returned the required number of signatures to get on the ballot.
Roland Michaud, a member of the Zoning Board of Review who has made headlines lately as one of the original plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the controversial supplemental property tax, failed to make the cut. He tendered 95 signatures.
That means the four contestants for the city’s top electoral spot will be incumbent Mayor Leo T. Fontaine, 44, of 56 Tara Lane; state Rep. Lisa Baldelli-Hunt (D-Dist. 49), 51, of 305 Prospect St; David A. Fisher, 38, of 238 Second Ave.; and Michael E. Moniz, 65, of 939 Bernon St. Fontaine is seeking his third term.
For City Council, the certified contenders – so far, anyway – include incumbents Christopher A. Beauchamp, 54, of 36 Meadow Road; Albert G. Brien, 72, of 513 South Main St.; Daniel M. Gendron, 49, of 87 Arland Court; Roger G. Jalette Sr., 70, of 282 Third Ave.; Robert R. Moreau, 51, of 140 Hamilton St.; and John F. Ward, 58, of 166 Getchell Ave.
The other contenders are Jeffrey P. Belknap, 49, of 237 Greene St.; Eric Cartier, 38, of 326 Mendon Road; Kathryn M. Dumais, 69, of 401 Summer St.; Richard J. Fagnant, 61, of 88 Coe St.; Garrett Mancieri, 29, of 372 Congress St.; Anita Ann McGuire-Forcier, 44, of 95 Marian Lane; Melissa A. Murray, 38, of 268 Prospect St.; and Christopher M. Roberts, 31, of 157 Tara Lane.
None has ever held a seat on the panel previously, though this is Mancieri’s second try since 2011.
Two of the challengers – McGuire-Forcier and Roberts – are current members of the School Committee, a five-member elective body which is going out of business when their terms expire at the end of the year. During the last election cycle, voters approved a referendum authorizing the city to abolish the panel at the end of the year. Thereafter, members will be appointed by the mayor, with the consent of the council.
Whoever wins any seat in this election cycle, for one time only, will serve a three-year term instead of the normal two.
The temporary change will allow the city to put its elective cycle in sync with the state’s. The switch, championed as a cost-saver for the city, was also approved by voters in an earlier referendum.