Voters will cast their ballots Tuesday for new Town Council
Jamestown voters will have the opportunity Tuesday to vote on eight political races and seven referendums on a ticket that includes 10 Town Council candidates running for five seats.
While the presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is dominating headlines nationally, in Jamestown it’s the council race that is creating a buzz. Running are Democrats George Levesque, Mary Meagher, Gene Mihaly, Tom Tighe and Kristine Trocki, Republicans Blake Dickinson and Paul Sprague, and Independents Dan Capuano, Bill Harsch and Ellen Winsor, the lone incumbent. The top five vote getters will win a two-year term.
While Evan Katz is also included on the ballot as a Town Council candidate, he wrote a letter to the Press in October saying he was withdrawing from the race so that he could pursue his career goals.
Two other local races are on the ticket: town moderator and School Committee. John Murphy, an attorney on the island, is running unopposed for town moderator. In the race for school board, three Democrats and one Republican will vie for three seats. Incumbents Cathy Kaiser and Julia Held are joined by running mate Ryan Conlon. Lowell Thomas is the GOP candidate.
Other races include two expiring seats in the General Assembly at the State House in Providence. Running for the District 74 seat in the state House of Representatives are two Jamestowners, incumbent Deb Ruggiero and Republican Anthony Mastrostefano. Ruggiero, a Democrat, is seeking her third term. The two islanders faced off in 2010, with Ruggiero winning with 53 percent of the vote in a three-way race.
In the state Senate, Tea Party candidate Geoffrey Cook will look to take the seat away from Teresa Paiva Weed, the current Senate president. Paiva Weed, a Democrat, was first elected in 1992 and is seeking her 11th term. She defeated Cook in 2010 with 66 percent of the vote.
Aside from the presidential race, there are two other open seats in Washington. Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse will look to defend his six-year seat in the U.S. Senate against Republican Barry Hinckley. In the District 1 race to be one of Rhode Island’s representatives in the U.S. House, incumbent David Cicilline is being challenged by Republican Brendan Doherty and Independent David Vogel. The top vote getter will win the twoyear term.
For the first time in a general election, voters will be asked to show ID when they arrive at their polling place. Poll workers will accept a range of common photo IDs including a state driver’s license or state, college or work ID.
Voter ID will be phased in over two election cycles. This year, voters can also use a variety of non-photo IDs including a Social Security card or a bank statement. Beginning in 2014, only photo IDs will be accepted.
Even without an ID, eligible voters will still be allowed to vote if the signature on their provisional ballot matches the signature on their voter registration.
“You should be prepared for the changes you will encounter at the polls,” said Secretary of State Ralph Mollis. “A lot will be different.”
Another change is the polling places. The town redistricted after state legislators approved a bill to allow more voters at each polling place. Instead of three districts in Jamestown, there will only be two. Registered voters in District 1 will cast their ballots at Town Hall, while voters in District 2 will cast their ballots at Lawn Avenue School. Melrose Avenue School will no longer be a polling place because of redistricting, and Town Hall replaced the recreation center because the center doesn’t comply with the federal disabilities act.
A final change, according to Canvassing Clerk Karen Montoya, is that people who didn’t register to vote by the Oct. 7 deadline can still cast a ballot for the presidential race. They can register at Town Hall on Election Day, but won’t be able to vote on any other race aside from president.
Montoya is also reminding voters that everyone registered may cast a ballot. “We want residents to be aware that the party has no bearing on this election,” she said. “It’s not a primary. Every registered voter can cast a ballot. I still get some people who are confused about that issue.”
This year each polling place will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. While Montoya expects to have results shortly after the polls close, she said that those numbers will only be preliminary because she expects close to 400 absentee ballots. “So if it’s a close race,” she said, “we’ll have to wait until the absentee votes are counted to see who wins the town elections.”
Voters submitting absentee ballots have an extra hour to cast their ballots. Absentee results won’t be known until early Wednesday morning.
The seven referendums on this year’s ticket include Question 1 and Question 2, which asks voters if they want games at Twin River and Newport Grand, respectively. Question 3 asks voters to approve or reject a $50 million bond to improve facilities at Rhode Island College; Question 4 asks voters to approve or reject a $94 million bond to construct and upgrade homes for veterans; Question 5 asks voters to approve or reject a $20 million bond to fi- nance wastewater infrastructure projects; Question 6 asks voters to approve or reject a $20 million environmental management bond to restore Narragansett Bay and the watershed, acquire open space, and provide grants to renovate historic parks; and Question 7 asks voters to approve or reject a $20 million bond for affordable housing.