WOONSOCKET — It’s official: political newcomer Alexander Kithes defeated former City Council veteran Roger G. Jalette Sr. by a vote of 1,346-1,241 in the Aug. 6 special election for a vacancy on the board.
The results were certified at City Hall Thursday morning by the local Board of Canvassers. The night before, the state Board of Elections also held a meeting to affirm the vote and tend to other bookkeeping chores.
The state board also disqualified a single flawed mail ballot that had been holding up the certification of the tally, according to Estelle Corriveau, manager of the Board of Canvassers. Under new rules, the state BOE must provide mail ballot voters with a seven-day window to fix a ballot that’s been filled out incorrectly.
Of 186 mail ballots cast in the race, the BOE was in possession of a single ballot that was missing a signature, as well as the sender’s printed name.
Kithes is to be sworn in at the office of City Clerk Christina Duarte at 3:30 p.m. today, the victor said.
“It’s nice that it’s official,” Kithes said. “I guess I am now a councilor-elect.”
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Kithes said it was exciting to begin “the continuous work of representing the community and making it better.”
State Sen. Melissa Murray (D-Dist. 24), for whom Kithes had campaigned during the former councilwoman’s first run for the legislature last fall, is expected to administer the oath of office during the ceremonials for the freshman councilman.
Kithes, whose well-heeled campaign articulated many of the core precepts of the state’s progressive Democrats, raised eyebrows with some of his rhetoric, including his speculative remarks suggesting that members of the City Council are less responsive to people of color than those with the benefit of “white privilege.”
He went on the attack again at radio station WNRI on Tuesday when he demanded that talk show host John R. Dionne, a former president of the City Council, apologize for describing himself as a “white nationalist,” which Dionne defined as someone who loves his country. A day later, Dionne did exactly that in a statement in which he appeared to suggest that he mistakenly thought the terms “white nationalist” and “patriot” were basically synonymous.
“I was not aware of the negative definition of that term when I made that statement,” Dionne said. “Let me make it clear that I have never used that term before in my life and am not today or (ever have) been a white nationalist as defined in the definition.”
Had he been aware of the “true definition,” Dionne said, he would have corrected himself immediately. “I deeply apologize the WNRI, and to my listeners for this mistake that I made.”
Kithes attended a workshop of the City Council as an observer on Tuesday, but he’s not expected to take a seat with his counterparts as a voting member until the panel’s next regularly scheduled meeting, on Sept. 16.
Follow Russ Olivo on Twitter @russolivo