New and returning faces seek office in local races

New and returning faces seek office in local races

PAWTUCKET – Campaign season will likely be a busy one in Pawtucket, where Mayor Donald Grebien and nearly every incumbent member of the City Council is facing opposition.

Three candidates will challenge Grebien, including returning candidate David Norton in the Democratic primary. If Norton can best the incumbent on Sept. 8, he would go on to face independents Robert Plouffe and Kenneth Hazard in the Nov. 3 general election.

Norton, who’s run for a variety of elected posts in recent years, announced that he’s running to help shape the city’s strategy in dealing with a long-term health crisis and expected severe economic downturn. He is also pledging to make the city more inclusive on race, criticizing what he calls discriminatory hiring practices.

Candidates won’t make their campaigns official unless they return qualified signatures by a July 10 deadline, and a judge declared last week that they’re allowed to gather those signatures electronically due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new group called the It’s Her Time Political Action Committee has announced its formation and support for a slate of six women for City Council, including three for at-large seats and three more to challenge in Districts 1, 4 and 5. Agi Gai-Kah, Melissa DaRosa and Tarshire Battle will all run citywide, while Crisolita Figueiredo will run in District 1 against City Council President David Moran, Alexis Schuette will run in District 4 against John Barry III, and Janie Seguí Rodríguez will run in District 5.

The six candidates joined others last week in calling on the City Council to delay a vote on a new police contract and reshape policing in the city.

Incumbent at-large Councilors Albert Vitali Jr., Elena Vasquez and Michael Araujo will also run to keep their at-large seats, as will fellow Democrat Charles Carvalho. Only three of the seven candidates in the at-large race will win seats. With everyone running in that race being a Democrat, the race will be decided in September.

Joseph Flanagan, who ran unsuccessfully in a three-way primary for District 4 two years ago, will run as an independent this time in an attempt to unseat the winner of the Democratic primary between Schuette and Barry.

Only Councilor Terrence Mercer in District 3 is running unopposed. Democrat Mark Wildenhain is facing a challenge from Republican Nathan Luciano in District 2, Seguí Rodríguez and Ama Amponsah will battle in the District 5 race to replace Meghan Kallman, and District 6 incumbent Tim Rudd will face off against fellow Democrat Marlena Stachowiak in the primary.

Seven Democrats running to keep their seats on the School Committee will automatically move on in the primary, with only seven seats available, but Joseph Brito will be waiting as an independent in the general election. The top seven winners of the eight candidates would win a seat.

Candidates in city-wide races must gather 200 signatures, while those in districts must gather 50 signatures.