Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 09-20-2018

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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30 CUMBERLAND SEPTEMBER 20-26, 2018 | VALLEY BREEZE | CUMBERLAND LINCOLN EDITION Palace Pizza's Venue 131 last Wednesday evening, the first results came in showing that he'd taken Bear Hill Village by a healthy margin. "I said, thank God, it's not going to be a shutout," said Mutter. After that vote of 306-244 at Bear Hill Village, the challenger would go on to see wins at 10 of 13 polling places, stunning Murray – and himself – by taking 53.1 percent of the overall vote after mail ballots were counted, or 3,105 votes to 2,747 votes. "I've been in a lot of races, and I've learned that it's not how you start, it's about finishing the race well," he said. A day after winning the primary, Mutter took a tour of the town to pull down Mutter for Mayor campaign signs, accepting congratulations along the way. He planned to take the week- end off to attend to many life tasks that had been put on hold during his rigorous primary campaign, and planned to continue taking down signs and thanking everyone who helped him along the way. Though it's still very early to plunge into transition talks with Murray and his staff, Mutter said he plans to reach out in the coming days to "see how they want to proceed" and whether they want to wait until November to get him up to speed on what he needs to know as he takes office in January. "I would like to be way ahead of that timeframe, but it's not necessar- ily in my hands," he said. "It's a col- laborative effort, and I'm going to be respectful of the process right now." In winning the Democratic pri- mary and becoming the mayor-elect, Mutter scored a number of apparent upsets at local polling places. One that stood out was One Mendon Road, the senior high-rise apartment com- plex that was seen as a stronghold for Murray. That polling station went for Mutter by a vote of 316-227. "People were kind and the senti- ment was positive," said Mutter of his visit to the center. "We had a lot of fun there, we really did, a good discussion. I never felt that there was a particular demographic or constituency that was dead-set against me. I never felt that the whole time." Despite disagreements with Murray, Mutter said he was grateful to the the mayor for not getting personal during the campaign. Murray had the advantage of incumbency and a big financial edge, he said, so he knew this race was about knocking on a lot of doors. He acknowledged that he had "a little advantage" in that department, being the younger candidate with more energy for such exercise. Mutter said he loved walking many miles along Cumberland's roads, saying people greeted him kindly everywhere he went. There's a tre- mendous toll both psychologically and physically from running for office, he said, and it was great to see so many people, some of whom he recognized as customers of his Mutter Motors car repair and sales business but didn't know where they lived. "That response definitely gave me the sense that we were in the race," he said. "I never felt we weren't going to be competitive." He said he wasn't sure if the heavy rain on primary day helped or hurt his chances of winning. Mutter acknowledged that his cam- paign sputtered at times when it came to finding a consistent message to resonate with voters. "I'm not a good sound-bite candi- date," he said. Asked whether he felt he benefited from the opportunity to present a more concise list of strengths and differences in the last Valley Breeze edi- tion before the primary, when many residents indicated they were starting to pay more attention to the race, Mutter, said, "no doubt." He said he was grateful for several letters of support in that last edition, and also credited an earlier correction on a false claim about him in another letter to the editor for helping propel him to victory. Also resonating with voters were his messages of doing better planning on smart upgrades to the town and creat- ing more accurate budgets that reflect the will of the people, he said. Murray agreed to a budget last year calling for a 4 percent spending increase "when 400 people were in the room," said Mutter, and then the final increase in the spring was .89 percent. On taxes, Mutter said the biggest misconception about him during the campaign was that he was the "tax- and-spend" candidate who will give too much money to schools and let taxes get out of control. He said he was serious about his campaign pledge to keep spending down while improv- ing planning. He said he sees himself as someone who listens to everyone and easily absorbs opinions that might be better than his. Asked about his criticism of Murray's spending of surplus money, and concerns from Murray support- ers that changing that practice would build a much larger surplus fund while passing a greater tax burden on to residents, Mutter said he's not against spending any surplus money, but said it shouldn't be used to balance bud- gets. He said he also supports careful planning to use surplus funds for ini- tiatives such as seed money for a new senior center or other investment. On whether he thinks his reputation as an honest mechanic helped him win, Mutter said he tries to keep that part of his life out of his politics. "I don't politic there," he said. "If somebody brings it up, I'll talk to them about that." He added that he thinks both his past work in town government and occupation as a mechanic gave him a base of people who knew what he was about. BREEZE PHOTO BY BILL MURPHY Watching the returns come in at Angelo's Palace Pizza after polls closed last Wednesday night in Cumberland's Democratic primary are, from left, BRUCE LEMOIS, Rep. MIA ACKERMAN, Jeff Mutter's campaign manager MARCIA GREEN, Councilor- at-Large THOMAS KANE, front center, and District 3 Town Councilor LISA BEAULIEU, front right, among other supporters. In back row, from left are ROLAND GARVIN and FRANK GEARY. MUTTER From Page One 'I never felt that there was a particular demographic or constituency that was dead-set against me.' JEFF MUTTER Mayor-elect of Cumberland • Oering personalized services and compassionate care for your family. • Pre-Arrangements can be made at any time to record your wishes. • We are available to meet you any day or night. John H. O' Neill 401-658-1155

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