Zwolenski, Osier advance to November election

Zwolenski, Osier advance to November election

Candidates Douglas Osier Jr., Paul Jones and Paul Zwolenski wait for voters outside the North Smithfield Elementary School polling location Tuesday evening. Zwolenski and Osier won the primary race and will advance to the general election in November. (Breeze photos by Lauren Clem)
Jones endorses Zwolenski for town administrator

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Paul Zwolenski and Douglas Osier have emerged as the two winners in the primary election for town administrator and will advance to the general election in November.

A third candidate, Paul Jones, formally conceded the race Friday morning after trailing with only 28.5 percent of the vote.

Due to a large number of mail-in and early votes, the results for this year’s primary were not finalized until late on Thursday, more than two days after polls closed Tuesday night. The week included a number of emotional turns for candidates, including an accounting error on the Board of Elections website that showed Osier trailing Jones by three votes for several hours Thursday night.

That error was later corrected, and as of Friday morning, unofficial results from the Board of Elections stood at 520 votes for Zwolenski, or 41.1 percent, 384 votes for Osier, or 30.4 percent, and 361 votes for Jones, or 28.5 percent.

A total of 435 residents voted by mail compared with 650 at the polls and 180 early in-person voters.

Jacob Gansert of the Board of Elections told The Breeze Friday morning all mail ballots had been counted and those numbers were similar to what the board will certify next week. A small number of mail ballots, he said, could still require signature verifications, but those numbers are not expected to change the outcome of the results.

For candidates, there was also some confusion over mail ballots, as the town clerk’s office had indicated earlier in the week they expected to receive more than 580 ballots by mail. Gansert said that was likely the number of voters who requested a mail ballot, but not all voters returned them.

In his concession statement on Friday, Jones thanked his supporters and said he does not intend to ask for a recount.

“I know this isn’t the outcome we wanted, but I can hold my head high knowing that we have started conversations about smart ways to move the town forward,” he said.

He also gave his endorsement to Zwolenski, a veteran of town politics who has served on the Town Council since 2004.

“We need a leader. We need someone with experience, and thoughtfulness, and integrity. Those are qualities I see in Paul Zwolenski, and I encourage all of my supporters to rally with me behind Paul so that we can follow his lead for the next four years,” he said.

Jones is in the midst of a four-year elected term on the School Committee that expires in 2022 and plans to continue serving on the committee.

Osier, a data analytics professional who has served on the Town Council since 2018, said Friday he's looking forward to the general election.

"I’m thankful to everyone that showed up to vote, everyone that supported me so far. It’s crazy to think that it’s going to be November before we know it and early voting is going to be starting again soon," he said.

Zwolenski said on Tuesday he believed his long experience in town government helped earn him residents' vote.

“It was very reassuring to hear people say that they recognize the years of experience, the years of contribution,” he said.

Zwolenski and Osier will now face off for town administrator in November, when voters will also select candidates for Town Council and state and national positions.

Town Administrator Gary Ezovski is not seeking reelection.

The three candidates, Douglas Osier Jr., Paul Jones and Paul Zwolenski, talk with a voter outside North Smithfield Elementary School on Tuesday.