Baldelli-Hunt claims victory over Brien

Baldelli-Hunt claims victory over Brien

Woonsocket Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, right, celebrates her victory over Albert Brien in Woonsocket’s Mayoral race with her campaign manager, Bob Moreau, at the Italian Working Men’s Club in Woonsocket Tuesday night. (Breeze photos by Bill Murphy)
But City Council majority not in her corner

Update: This story has been updated to reflect additional mail ballots counted by the Board of Elections on Thursday.

WOONSOCKET – Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt won her third term in office on Tuesday, soundly defeating challenger Albert Brien with 57.7 percent of the vote following a hard-fought campaign season that saw heated attacks from both sides.

Baldelli-Hunt, first elected in 2013, ran largely on her record of city improvements and support for projects such as road paving and blight removal, as well as her plans to bring new business into the city. Speaking to supporters at the Italian Workingmen’s Club Tuesday night, she thanked constituents for their vote of support and promised to continue the work she began in 2013.

“I feel that all the employees within the city have worked so hard to help bring us from a very dark time to a better place, and if the residents stopped and reflected on where we were in 2013 and where we are now in 2018, we’re in a much better place and it’s important to continue the progress,” she told The Breeze.

Brien, a former City Council president who secured 41.9 percent of the vote, found support with a contingent of residents unhappy with Baldelli-Hunt’s policies and what they saw as a lack of transparency in the current administration. Speaking to The Breeze after the votes were counted, he said he was disappointed in the results but thought his campaign brought attention to issues in the community. He thanked his many volunteers for their work during the campaign.

“I was so fortunate to have an army, an absolute army, of volunteers, people who believe in what we were doing,” he said. “So I’m very grateful to them, to everybody who supported me. A huge, heartfelt thank you from Albert Brien.”

Brien also said he was pleased with the results of the City Council race, where a group of candidates largely aligned with his own goals, including sitting councilors Jon Brien (his son), James Cournoyer, Daniel Gendron and Denise Sierra and former City Council President John Ward, swept the race, claiming five of the top six highest vote counts. Jon Brien and Ward claimed the first and second highest number of votes, respectively, while David Soucy, a well-known city businessman running on an independent platform, claimed the third highest number of votes.

A seventh seat appeared too close to call as of press time. Julia Brown, a political newcomer whose candidacy was supported by Baldelli-Hunt, led former City Council President Roger Jalette, Sr., by 10 votes, according to unofficial results posted to the state Board of Elections website late Tuesday night. By Friday, the lead had expanded to 11 votes following the counting of additional mail ballots, with a total of 3,636 votes for Brown and 3,625 votes for Jalette. According to Board of Elections Deputy Director Miguel Nunez, those results include all mail ballots but not provisional ballots, which will be included in a new count posted to the Board of Elections website during the day on Tuesday, Nov. 13. The deadline for candidates to request a recount is Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Jalette told The Breeze on Wednesday that he plans to request a recount and has not yet conceded the race.

“I’m extremely glad that the other five from the group that I was running with made it, and actually, I was disappointed that Al Brien did not make it,” he said. “I think the council would’ve been stronger if all six of us would’ve made it.”

Brown was cautiously optimistic about the win, thanking her supporters and saying she hopes to work on her relationships with other council members.

"I'm happy to see that there's so much progress happening and I'm ready to get to work," she said.

In the School Committee race, current Vice Chairman Paul Bourget was the top vote-getter, while former School Committee members Eleanor Nadeau and Donald Burke, along with Lynn Kapiskas and Rebecca Capwell, all claimed seats. Current Chairman Soren Seale, who ran with a group that included Bourget, Burke and Kapiskas, did not win re-election.

“I am obviously disappointed with the results. However, I am grateful for the five years I've had serving the city of Woonsocket,” Seale told The Breeze Wednesday. “Good people have been elected to the new committee. I'm confident that they will put the kids first and continue moving the district forward.”

Bourget said he was surprised to be the top vote-getter and added he looks forward to tackling the unresolved teacher contract negotiations, as the committee will have the opportunity to appoint a new negotiating team upon taking their seats in office.

“That’s the gorilla in the room, and that’s our most important challenge right now is to get our teachers a contract so they can go to work and get rid of this work to rule,” he said.

The contract negotiations became a focal point in the mayor's race during the final weeks before the election after the Woonsocket Teachers Guild formally endorsed Brien's candidacy, blaming Baldelli-Hunt for the city's failure to offer teachers a raise during the current academic year. Many teachers used their day off from school to campaign for Brien on Tuesday, gathering outside polling places with signs of support.

While Baldelli-Hunt and City Council candidates both celebrated their wins, the two sides acknowledged their relationship has not been amicable in the past. Gendron, current council president and a member of the group that has opposed many of Baldelli-Hunt’s actions in the past, expressed cautious optimism for the future, with at least five, and possibly six, of the group’s candidates serving the next two years.

“It looks good for the city, because we have six people who I can assure you have every intention of working with the mayor,” he said. Under the City Charter, however, only five council votes are needed to reject and overturn any mayoral initiative or the budget.

Baldelli-Hunt said she looks forward to continuing to advance the community and considers her mayoral win a vote of support from residents.

“My hope is that they recognize that the people of Woonsocket spoke, the people want me to lead the community,” she said.

Newly elected Woonsocket School Committee member Rebecca Capwell addresses her supporters after her victory at the Italian Working Men’s Club in Woonsocket Tuesday night.
Former City Council president and candidate for Woonsocket mayor Al Brien is consoled by friend Rachel Thifault at the Broaster House restaurant after his loss to incumbent Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt Tuesday. (Breeze photo by Tom Ward)
Woonsocket Middle School teachers Heather Rose, Jo-Anne Crossley, Allison Fernandes, Matt King and Tina Morissette campaign for Albert Brien outside the Hamlet Middle School on Tuesday. (Breeze photo by Lauren Clem)
Woonsocket City Councilman Richard Fagnant, center, watched the election returns come in at the Italian Working Men’s Club in Woonsocket, Tuesday night. Fagnant was not re-elected to another term. (Breeze photos by Bill Murphy)
Sandrina Baldelli, of Woonsocket, celebrates as it is announced that her daughter, Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, had won re-election.

Comments

This was a slogan on her campaign signs, "For a Change". Woonsocket won't get a change because we STILL HAVE THE SAME MAYOR!!!! Does she own a moving company? All I've seen is Planet Fitness, move, Dunkin Donuts, move, Job Lot, move, another pizza joint, move, etc. While we've seen Walmart move out and Lowes move out. North Attleboro, CUmberland, Bellingham all have new businesses which takes care of their lower taxes. Where does our mayor do groceries? In our local Price Rite? I highly doubt it. I also haven't heard her do one thing for the elderly in the city. You wanted her, you got her. Good luck

I would like the mayor to consider putting at least another crosswalk in front of Kennedy Manor, or at least, maybe installing a light at the one already there, for a pedestrian wishing to cross the street, to stop traffic. I don't see where there is one in order to be a safer area. The recent accident there will most certainly not be the last. I hope the lady is doing better. Please consider this. I don't see where there is one for safer passage while crossing.

Water rates going up. Notices conveniently mailed right after the election. Transparency? Nope, the more things change the more they stay the same.