Trocki, Meagher elected to lead new Town Council
If the absentee ballots continue the trend, Democrats Kristine Trocki, Mary Meagher, Tom Tighe and Gene Mihaly, along with Republican Blake Dickinson, will be seated when the newly elected Town Council meets on Nov. 19.
But that is far from a foregone conclusion. With nearly 400 absentee votes yet to be counted by the time the Jamestown Press went to the printers Wednesday, Dickinson had a 68-vote lead over incumbent Ellen Winsor and a 75- vote advantage over fellow Republican Paul Sprague.
The other three candidates are a long shot. Independent Bill Harsch has 1,152 votes, Democrat George Levesque has 1,148 votes and Independent Dan Capuano has 1,103 votes. (Official results will be posted on JamestownPress.com when they are counted and released.)
Trocki, a lawyer in town, is currently the top vote getter. She received 2,017 votes, ahead of runner-up Meagher, who secured 1,712 votes. Trocki was also the top vote getter in September’s Democratic primary. Trocki and Meagher are the only two who are guaranteed a seat as of Wednesday afternoon.
“I am just delighted,” said Meagher, who led the charge Tuesday night in bringing the numbers from Lawn Avenue School to Town Hall to see who had the early lead.
“My favorite part of yesterday was sitting outside Town Hall with all 10 candidates, enjoying the day together regardless of the outcome,” said Trocki, who was bundled up outside the polling place during the 40-degree day. “I knew at the outset of the day that no matter which combination of five candidates were elected, Jamestown would be in a great position going forward.”
She continued, “Even more so, it was fantastic to see the tremendous outpouring of voters who came out to make a difference in their community. Every vote does matter, and as part of the incoming Town Council, I will enjoy listening to each voice.”
Using just standard ballots that were filled out Tuesday at the town’s two polling places, Tighe, the town’s former police chief, finished third with 1,365 votes. Mihaly, a retired professor who serves as president of the library’s board of trustees, received 1,328 votes. Dickinson, vice chairman of the town’s Republican committee and a former president of the Taxpayers Association of Jamestown, secured the last seat with 1,277 votes.
“While it’s not official, I would like to thank all the voters that supported me and those that took the time to listen,” said Dickinson. “Regardless of the outcome, I look forward to serving and being an advocate of the taxpayers of Jamestown in some capacity. I have enjoyed meeting and competing with the folks from the opposition. I congratulated them and wished them the best.”
Standard ballots that are filled out in person are recorded by the town’s board of canvassers soon after the polls close at 8 p.m. On the other hand, voters using absentee ballots have until 9 p.m. to submit their tickets. Those ballots are then counted at the secretary of state’s office in Providence and don’t usually come out until the following day. The state Board of Elections said Wednesday afternoon that results wouldn’t be available until after 4 p.m. that day.
While mathematically Tighe and Mihaly can’t be officially elected to the Town Council until the outstanding ballots are counted, they were being congratulated and hugged Tuesday night in the lobby at Town Hall – nearly every local candidate chose to hang out there, waiting eagerly for the results to be read aloud.
“The council elect has all the makings of a very fine group that can and will work together to serve the town, to address its immediate issues and to think creatively about the long term,” said Mihaly, who admitted that his spot on the council is probable, but not certain. “[If elected], I should be honored to be part of that council, and look forward to working with my prospective colleagues, most of whom I have been in harness with for months, know well and respect enormously.”
With Tighe and Mihaly optimistic Tuesday night, the fifth spot wasn’t being conceded. Dickinson, Winsor and Sprague left Town Hall still wondering if their campaigns were enough to springboard them onto the council.
In another local race, it seems likely the Democrats will sweep the three available School Committee seats, keeping the board partisan. With Sav Rebecchi deciding not to run for re-election, Jamestown voters unofficially elected newcomer Ryan Conlon to the school panel. Conlon, just 21 years old and a student at the University of Rhode Island, had a 241-vote advantage over Republican Lowell Thomas Tuesday night. With less than 400 absentee votes unaccounted for, it’s a long shot that Thomas can overcome such a deficit.
Incumbents Cathy Kaiser and Julia Held won the two other seats. Kaiser, the School Committee’s chairwoman since 2001, led the pack with 2,130 votes. Held, the current liaison to the North Kingstown School Committee, finished just behind Kaiser with 2,044 votes.
“I am deeply appreciative of the voters’ support, both for the candidates and for our schools,” said Kaiser. “Although we are all aware that there are challenges ahead, Jamestown can have confidence in its School Committee. I’m proud to continue as a member of the team.”
The final race for town office wasn’t much of a race at all – Democrat John Murphy, running unopposed, won with 98 percent of the vote. Despite a late push asking for write-in votes, only 61 registered Jamestowners who voted for town moderator went against Murphy.
Murphy thanked all the candidates for giving up the most precious asset available: time. “You are most civic-minded and generous citizens,” he said. “It will be an honor to serve the people of Jamestown. After watching the debates this year, I would say that Jamestown was indeed fortunate to have such a talented group of candidates. We would have been well served no matter who won out in the end.”
If Dickinson doesn’t hold onto his lead, he said he will still be active in town government. “I look forward to working with them to ensure the voters and taxpayers of Jamestown are taken into consideration,” he said. “I respect their commitment to serve the community and am hopeful that their campaign message of fiscal responsibility is more than just an election slogan. I enjoyed meeting them, sharing in this process, and wish them luck in meeting the challenges ahead.”