Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 07-11-2019

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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2 WOONSOCKET JULY 11-17, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET EDITION Kithes, Jalette set their sights on Aug. 6 primary WOONSOCKET – Two candidates are headed for the Aug. 6 special elec- tion to fill a vacant seat on the Woonsocket City Council after earning the two highest vote totals in last week's special primary election. Alexander Kithes and Roger Jalette Sr. are advancing to the special election after beating out two other candidates, Anita McGuire-Forcier and Michael Disney, to claim the top spots. Kithes, a first-time candi- date and chairman of the group Rhode Islanders for Reform, had the larg- est share of the votes with 995 votes, or 52.2 percent. Jalette, a former City Council president, placed second with 588 votes, or 30.85 percent. The results set the stage for a battle of opposites as voters head to the polls next month. While Jalette, the former owner of Roger's Flower Shop who has served several stints on the City Council, is a familiar name for city residents, Kithes was virtually unknown to many local voters prior to declaring his run for office in April. After getting his start campaigning against budget cuts as a student at Woonsocket High School, Kithes focused his political efforts mainly at the state level, leading a group that lobbies for legislative rules reform in the General Assembly. While Kithes last week attributed his win to a well-organized campaign of knocking on doors and getting to know city vot- ers, Jalette pointed to his opponent's fundraising, which totaled more than $13,000 in the first two months of the campaign. From April through mid- June, Kithes collected a possibly unprecedented amount in contributions for a special City Council election, spending approx- imately $5,000 on adver- tising, lawn signs, fundrais- ing events and a campaign headquarters and manager. His supporters include a long list of state politi- cians and activists, many of them associated with the progressive wing of the state's Democratic party. "I'm not sure, but I think it may be a record amount on a City Council race," said Jalette. "I've never heard of anyone spending that kind of money in a primary for a City Council race." In the face of a well- organized opponent, Jalette said he plans to ramp up his campaigning in the second part of the election season and run his campaign differently than he has in the past. The former council presi- dent noted he got his own start on the City Council close to three decades ago in a similar situation. "I am putting together a way of handling this particular election that is different from the past, because I have never run against someone like him before," he said. "My very first time that I ran for City Council was 26 years ago, believe it or not, in a special election like this is." "It's way different than it was 26 years ago," he added. In contrast, Jalette received just $915 in contributions in the same two-month period, includ- ing donations from cur- rent Councilors Daniel Gendron, Jon Brien and Denise Sierra. Though Kithes has criticized his older opponent as a product of what he calls the city's "good old boy politics," Jalette told The Valley Breeze he thinks his straightforward campaign message of lowering taxes and clamping down on city spending continues to resonate with voters of all ages. While Jalette expressed disappointment over the low voter turnout – just 7 percent of the city's 27,122 registered voters – Kithes said the turnout was high- er than he expected for a special primary election just two days before the Fourth of July. He credited his team of volunteers and his campaign manager, fellow Woonsocket High School graduate Keith Jillette, with getting the word out to voters, many of whom he believed came to the polls to support his vision for the city. "It really is reflective of the fact that people will vote when they have something to vote for," he said. "I think it speaks to the fact that talking to peo- ple and knocking doors, it helps to give people confidence in me because I'm actually there talking to them." In contrast with Jalette's simple message, Kithes has advocated for a long list of campaign priori- ties, including government transparency, support for the local arts scene, renew- able energy projects and policies that support pub- lic education. He defended his campaign spending, pointing out that while his opponent had 16 years on the council to build up name recognition, many of the residents receiving his mailers are seeing his name for the first time. He told The Breeze he plans to continue reaching voters on as many platforms as possible, including a web- site launched this month. "The money spent on the City Council race for me is another tool to be able to have voter contact, and I'm not going to apol- ogize for that," he said. A third candidate, Anita McGuire-Forcier, placed third with 237 votes, or 15.37 percent. McGuire- Forcier is a former School Committee chairwoman who ran on her experience in city government and a message of unity and smart fiscal planning. Perennial candidate Michael Disney placed last with 30 votes, or 1.57 percent. By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer lauren@valleybreeze.com ALEXANDER KITHES, left, and ROGER JALETTE SR. will advance to the Aug. 6 special election after claiming the top two spots in the special primary election last week. See PRIMARY, Page 19 'Passport to Woonsocket' offers $1,000 cash prize WOONSOCKET – The Levitt AMP concert series has introduced a "Passport to Woonsocket" program to encourage attendance at its week- ly free summer concerts at River Island Art Park. Visitors can pick up a passport at any one of the concerts, which take place at 6 p.m. every Friday night. The 20-page booklet features the 10 Levitt concerts as well as 15 local businesses, including eateries like New York Lunch and Aroma Café. Participants who collect 15 stamps by Aug. 23 will be entered for a chance to win $1,000. The passports were the idea of Meghan Rego, director of resource development and communications for NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley and series organizer. Though the concerts, now in their second summer, offer free music along with kid's activities, food and bar options, she noted that attendance has been low, hovering around 400 people each week. Rego, from Wakefield, said the passports were inspired by jokes from others in the state that the city is "basically another country." "When I stumbled across the jokes about needing a passport to go to Woonsocket, I figured why not capi- talize on the humor?" she said. The next performance, by Rhode Island favorite Steve Smith and the Naked Truth, a 10-piece rhythm and blues band, takes place this Friday, July 12. Indie folk trio O.B. Howard will open. The series runs until Aug. 23. Independently Owned & Operated by George & Malanie Loya Wood Blinds • Shutters • Roman Shades Woven Wood • Custom Drapery Top Treatments • Verticals and more! Local: 401-356-4770 Free Cordless Upgrade on all Cellular and Pleated Shades Until September 30, 2019 Your guide to nursing home/Medicaid Protection Wills & Trusts Medicaid Planning Probate Northern RI's Premier Full Service Law Firm Jarret Law, LLc 176 Eddie Dowling Highway, Suite 202, North Smithfield, RI 401-769-2929 Aram P. Jarret III, Esq. 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