Four running for administrator, 12 for Town Council in N.S.

Four running for administrator, 12 for Town Council in N.S.

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Voters will have a lot to decide when they head to the polls in November, with a large crop of candidates running for both town administrator and Town Council in North Smithfield.

Four candidates filed candidacy papers to run for town administrator with the town clerk’s office last week. Sitting Town Councilors Douglas Osier Jr. and Paul Zwolenski, along with School Committee member Paul Jones and political newcomer Jason Allard, are all seeking election to the town’s highest position.

As of early last week, only one candidate, Jones, had announced plans to run for the position, fueling speculation over who would seek the seat after Town Administrator Gary Ezovski said he did not plan to seek another term. Allard filed papers last Tuesday, while Osier and Zwolenski both waited until the final day of the filing period to declare their candidacy, setting the stage for a four-way primary race on Sept. 8.

Zwolenski has the longest political record of any candidate, with a 26-year political career that dates back to when he began serving on the Planning Board in 1994. He has since served on several local committees and currently serves as vice president of the Town Council, a board he was first elected to in 2004. A former town planner, he currently teaches in the College of Business at Johnson and Wales University.

Osier is newer to town politics, but has made a name for himself over the past two years during his first term on the Town Council. Prior to 2018, he served as co-chairman of the Budget Committee. A data analytics professional, he holds degrees in finance and economics, skills he said could help bring a strategic approach to town planning.

During the past two years, the two candidates have often found themselves on the same side of council debates. Both voted in favor of tighter restrictions on solar developers and supported lowering residential tax rates at a faster rate than commercial rates last year.

Jones also comes to the table with political experience, having served on the School Committee since 2016. A senior care professional, he told The Breeze he is running on a platform of improving schools, strategic business development and increasing services for seniors. He also supports creating a community center at the former Halliwell School.

Allard, the race’s only political newcomer, is a lifelong town resident who told The Breeze he decided to run after seeing that many of those in office were newer residents without the same level of experience in the town. He said he wants to see taxpayers come first and that it’s time for the people of North Smithfield to get their town back.

“We work for the taxpayers of the town, not the other way around. That has gotten lost over the years,” he said.

A local businessman and electrician, Allard said he’s owned various small businesses over the years in contracting and auto repair and sales.

Voters will also face choices in the Town Council race, where 12 candidates are running for five seats. Incumbents Claire O’Hara, Paul Vadenais and Teresa Bartomioli are all seeking to regain their seats, as is John Beauregard, a former Town Council president who was voted out in 2018 after an emotional season that included contentious votes on a Nike boycott and the Green Development solar farm. Kimberly Alves, a former town councilor who told The Breeze she wants to focus on infrastructure and resident input, is also running for a seat, as is Megan Staples, a Planning Board member who launched an unsuccessful write-in campaign for Town Council in 2018.

The race also features several new faces, including Christopher Simpkins, a software developer, and Ana Parsons, a Marine Corps veteran and former board member of the North Smithfield Youth Soccer Association. Both candidates said they’ve been disappointed by recent decisions of the Town Council and want to bring a new perspective.

Cheryl Marandola, a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, said she’s committed to transparency and engaging residents in the process, while Stephen Corriveau, a member of the Economic Development Commission who’s active with local youth sports, said he wants to see the council working closely with the administration and School Committee to keep decisions transparent to the public. The race also features challenges from Christopher Chamberland and Claudinne Finnegan, both newcomers to town office.

The council race will include a primary in September to narrow down the field before the general election on Nov. 3. Nomination papers for candidates are due back July 10.

Two of the town’s four General Assembly districts will see contested races. In Senate District 23, which covers portions of North Smithfield, Burrillville and Glocester, first-term Republican incumbent Jessica de la Cruz will face off against Democrat Paul Roselli, a Burrillville resident who lost in the Democratic primary in 2018. In Senate District 17, which the town shares with Lincoln and North Providence, Republican incumbent Thomas Paolino faces a challenge from Democrat John Barr.

Sen. Melissa Murray (Democrat, Senate District 24) is running uncontested, as is Rep. Brian Newberry (Republican, House District 48).

School Committee candidates will face an uncontested race after only three candidates declared for three open seats. Incumbent members James Lombardi, Margaret Votta and Jean Meo are all running for re-election.