Eleven candidates for Smithfield council, five for school board

Eleven candidates for Smithfield council, five for school board

SMITHFIELD – Voters could have 11 candidates to choose from in the Sept. 8 primaries for the Smithfield Town Council after five Republicans and six Democrats declared their intent to run for office by last Wednesday’s deadline.

All five at-large seats are up for election for two-year terms on the Smithfield Town Council.

Incumbents Suzy Alba, T. Michael Lawton, and Sean Kilduff filed papers and were endorsed by the Democratic party. Councilwoman Dina Cerra, a Democrat, is not running for her second term in office.

Angelica Bovis and former North Providence Police Chief and retired State Police Maj. David Tikoian round out the endorsed Democratic ticket for council.

Tikoian retired from North Providence last November after two years in the position. He said his decision to run comes from his heart as a chance to give back, and also from his experience as chief of police.

“I bring a skill set that will benefit the council and the town,” Tikoian said.

A sixth Democrat, the unendorsed Kenneth Orabona, is also running for council.

The six Democrats will face off in the Sept. 8 primary for five spots on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Incumbent Republican Maxine Cavanagh will not seek re-election this year after narrowly securing her spot on the council by 12 votes over independent Albert Gizzarelli in the last election. Gizzarelli, who is chairman of the Planning Board, is not running again this year.

Cavanagh is the only Republican on the council. She did not comment on her decision not to run.

Five endorsed Republicans have filed papers for a seat on the council, including James Archer, Katie Law, Marina Emin, Philip Hirons and Zofia Grzegorzewska.

Law is a former member of the Smithfield Historic Preservation Commission and quit last July due to “contentious” working conditions between herself and the council.

Law said people need to feel welcome in Smithfield. While she respects the opinions and passion of the “regulars” who attend and run meetings, she said there needs to be a focus on the Smithfield culture for future generations.

“Changes are easy to make when you’re there to make them,” she said.

Five candidates are running for two seats on the Smithfield School Committee, including three Democrats and two Republicans for four-year terms on the board. Elections are staggered, with three up for election in two years. Virginia Harnois, Democrat, Richard Iannitelli, Republican, and Chairwoman Rose Marie Cipriano, Republican, will continue serving their terms.

Democrat Cheryl Hirst-Hodgins will not seek re-election this year after serving a four-year term on the board.

Incumbent Kellie-Ann Heenan replaced committee member Sean Clough when he resigned in September 2018 and is running as an endorsed Republican with running mate Michelle Pereira.

Endorsed Democrats Jeffrey Angelo and Anthony Torregrossa will face off with unendorsed candidate Benjamin Caisse in the Sept. 8 primary. Caisse, a teacher in Mansfield, Mass., said he is the only one of the three Democrats who currently works in education.

Representing Smithfield and parts of Johnston and North Providence, endorsed Democrat Steven Archambault is running for his fifth two-year term as a state senator for District 22.

Democrat Melanie DuPont will again challenge Archambault after being defeated by the incumbent in the last election, earning 37.6 percent of the vote.

Archambault said his record of accomplishment includes adopting laws requiring police officers to receive mental health first aid training in how to de-escalate situations involving people with mental health illness, instituting pill limits, protecting the environment through clean energy jobs and supporting local farmers to protecting small business.

“I am running for re-election because in these challenging time, I want to continue to put my experience to work for the residents of Smithfield, Johnston and North Providence and our state as a whole,” Archambault said.

DuPont said it is time to switch to a candidate who offers a different and courageous approach to public service.

“Instead of eight years of service, we got eight years of lip service,” DuPont said.

Archambault defeated former Republican Town Councilor Gregory Tocco in the 2018 election, earning 64.4 percent of the vote.

This year, Greg Tocco’s father, Stephen Tocco, will take a run at Archambault as an independent. The former council member is a long-time critic of Archambault.

Republican Paul Santucci, former Town Council president, is running for the District 22 Senate seat as well. Santucci said he will draw from his experience on the council and various town boards as a member of the General Assembly.

Republicans Brian Rea, who is endorsed, and Zofia Grzegorzewska will face off in a primary race to take on Democrat Bernard Hawkins in House District 53, representing Smithfield and Glocester.

Hawkins defeated Republican Richard Poirier in the 2018 election.

Candidates now have until July 10 to file nomination papers with signatures.

Rep. Gregory Costantino, Democrat, is running unchallenged for his District 44 seat serving Smithfield, Lincoln, and Johnston.