Republicans Dominate Council, School Committee Races
Rich Nassaney (R)
Mike Colasante (R)
Megan Cotter (D)
Justin Price (R)
By Cynthia Drummond for BRVCA
RICHMOND – The Town Council turned a deeper shade of red Tuesday with Republicans taking four of the five seats in the general election.
Voter turnout was strong, with 2,431 or 38.3 % of the town’s 6,341 registered voters casting their ballots.
Incumbent Richard Nassaney, a Republican, received the greatest number of votes, 1,672, closely followed by Republican, Michael Colasante, with 1,586 votes. Samantha Wilcox, the only Democrat to win a seat on the council, received 1,575 votes. Republican Helen Sheehan was fourth with 1,546 votes and Mark Trimmer, a Republican returning to the council after a hiatus, received 1,520 votes.
Three council incumbents who lost their bids for reelection: Ronald Newman, Lauren Cacciola Parmer, and James Palmisciano.
Challengers, Daniel Madnick, Jeffrey Vaillancourt and Mark Reynolds did not win council seats.
Nassaney said Wednesday that he was surprised by the council election results.
“I’m honored and I’m grateful that the people in Richmond gave me the opportunity to serve them again,” he said. “I was surprised at the rest of the ticket. I thought that Jim Palmisciano, Mark Reynolds, Dan Madnick, who are amazing people, would have also been on the council, but people chose differently.”
Mike Colasante, with the second-highest number of votes, said he was eager to get to work and make good on his promise to lower taxes.
“We’ll be able to move things forward, and hopefully, get the taxes under control, bring in economic development to offset the taxes and put some of this tax revenue into a restricted account, like a trust fund, so that way, future town councils won’t be able to touch it, and we’ll be able to use that money to offset future tax increases,” he said.
There were rumors during the campaign that if elected, Colasante intended to fire Town Administrator Karen Pinch, Town Planner Shaun Lacey and Town Solicitor Karen Ellsworth, however, Colasante said Wednesday that he had no intention of terminating anyone.
“I’ve never advocated getting rid of positions,” he said. “I’ve been able to walk into their offices and we’ve always been very congenial with one another.”
Helen Sheehan said she had visited close to 900 homes during the campaign and was now looking forward to helping Richmond’s diverse interests reach a consensus on the direction the town should go.
“I want to do a goal-setting exercise with the people in the Town Council and then bring in all the townspeople and the commissions and have a round table discussion and lay out everybody’s vision about, specifically, things we need to address in the town,” she said.
Mark Reynolds, who serves as Town Moderator, chairs the town’s Board of Tax Assessment and Review and is a member of the Charter Review Commission. His first bid for Town Council might have been more successful, he said, had he not run as an independent.
“It’s obviously difficult, being an independent, to kind of break through the party affiliations that people look at when they’re voting,” he said.
Samantha Wilcox and Mark Trimmer did not respond to requests for comment.
Information on the vote counts can be found on the Rhode Island Board of Elections website.
Republicans also took the two open seats on the Chariho School Committee. Unaffiliated incumbents Ryan Callahan and William Day and political newcomer and Democrat, Jessica Purcell, were defeated by Patricia Pouliot and Kathryn Colasante.
In the race for state Senator in District 34, the final result was clear, although totals continued to change slightly as additional ballots were counted. By early Wednesday afternoon, it appeared that Elaine Morgan had won a fifth term by a decisive margin with 53.4% of the vote, beating Democrat Jennifer Douglas who received 46.6%.
In District 39, Republican Justin Price, who was hoping for a fifth term as State Representative, was challenged by Democrat Megan Cotter.
While Cotter has run against Price in previous elections, this year the race was so close that it was impossible to call.
The candidates were separated by just a handful of votes until early Wednesday afternoon, when Cotter began to pull ahead. At press time, she was leading Price by 61 votes.
Price, who was expecting a recount, said he was frustrated by the proliferation of mail ballots, which have complicated the electoral process.
“Because the process has been changed so much, it’s not like you vote on voting day and find out the results,” he said. “Now, all this legislation’s been introduced that lengthens the process and complicates the process, which shouldn’t be complicated.”
Cotter said she was feeling optimistic about the outcome, whenever that was finally confirmed.
“There are still some votes to be counted, but I feel good,” she said. “This shows that voters want someone who puts working families and seniors first and looks for real solutions to the problems we face.”
· While statewide, the $100 million bond for the University of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay Campus was approved by a healthy margin, (57.5%), Richmond voters rejected it by a margin of 51% to 49%.
· Voters approved a $250 million bond for improvements to school buildings
· The $50,000,000 “green economy” bond was approved, 57.6% to 42.4%.
· A proposal to issue licenses for cannabis-related businesses was approved by a 58.2% to 41.8% margin.
· Voters rejected a proposal to change the position of Town Administrator to Town Manager, with increased authority over the administration of town personnel. The vote was 52.6% to 47.4%.
· A proposal to replace the Financial Town Meeting with a budget referendum was approved, 68.1% to 31.9%.
· Voters approved, 69.5% to 30.5%, a measure to prohibit Town Council members from attempting to influence the Town Manager’s decisions on the staff hiring, firing and promotions.
· A proposal to require the Town Council to conduct annual reviews of the performance of the Town Manager was approved 86.4% to 13.6%.
· A measure to require the Town Manager to conduct annual reviews of all employees, including department heads, was approved, 84.9% to 15.1%.
· Voters approved an amendment to the town charter giving the Town Manager the authority to appoint a temporary Town Manager during the Town Manager’s absence. The vote was 70.1% to 29.9%.
· A proposal to transfer authority over the town’s Recreation Department from the Recreation Commission to the Town Manager was rejected by a margin of 60.1% to 39.9%.
· Voters approved, 53.2% to 46.8%, a measure that will allow, but not require, the town to establish a municipal court.
· Voters approved a measure to repeal the provision allowing the amendment of the town charter by voter initiative to make the charter consistent with state law. The vote was 58.7% to 41.3%.
· A proposal to allow the amendment of the charter to make typographical corrections, ensure internal consistency and consistency with state law was approved 77.7% to 22.3%.