Board validates Norton signatures

Board validates Norton signatures

Debate between three Democrats called off

PROVIDENCE – The Board of Elections last Wednesday dismissed Senate District 8 candidate Matt Fecteau’s challenge of opponent David Norton’s signatures, validating the fact that Norton has the 100 signatures needed to run.

The board found that each of the signatures Fecteau challenged were acceptable, including the ones gathered at the Doyle Manor senior housing complex on Broadway. Fecteau failed to produce evidence to the board that Norton had indeed trespassed on the property, as he’d claimed, saying he had emails from property managers that Norton wasn’t supposed to be at the property and that they were still looking into whether he had violated the law.

Norton said Fecteau “embarrassed himself” before the board, and said the board “demolished it (the complaint) completely.”

Even if Norton did trespass, said board members, that action wouldn’t be enough to invalidate his signatures. They said that’s a “political issue,” not a “legal issue.” Board members said that without evidence of coercion, they couldn’t find that Norton violated any laws.

Eileen Dwyer, manager at Doyle Manor at 300 Broadway, told The Breeze Norton came to the building on two occasions and he was knocking on apartment doors. She called him to tell him that knocking on doors at the private residence was not allowed and he hasn’t been back since.

Fecteau reiterated that his complaint was based on signatures that appeared to be from the same people and that the Doyle Manor signatures were collected under “questionable circumstances.” He said he simply exercised his right as a candidate to have the Board of Elections review Norton’s signatures.

The board found that each signature collected by Norton matched the signatures on file.

Norton had previously complained that he was being kept out of the Burns Manor, a public housing facility at 214 Roosevelt Ave. After Norton contacted the ACLU, the PHA later issued a memo that candidates would be allowed to walk the doors at the facility if they set up their visits ahead of time.

The latest dust-up between the former political allies comes as they and a third Democrat in the special election race for former Sen. Jamie Doyle’s seat, City Councilor Sandra Cano, barrel toward a Feb. 27 primary.

A candidate forum previously planned for this Saturday, Feb. 17, which was to be sponsored by Our Revolution RI and the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats, was called off.

Both Fecteau and Cano had declined to participate in the forum, citing Norton’s behavior in the race as their main reason. Norton has repeatedly called for the other two candidates to debate him on issues.

“Please be advised that the proposed forum has been canceled by the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats and Our Revolution RI because the agenda of having a political discussion of ideas cannot be achieved and we feel the best way to move on is to cancel the event,” states an announcement from the sponsors.