Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 08-08-2019

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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NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | AUGUST 8-14, 2019 WOONSOCKET 17 porters celebrating the win as the can- didate delivered his thanks Tuesday night. He told supporters that voters were ready for a new candidate with a vision for the city's future and that their hard work helped bring people to the polls. "The people of Woonsocket are ready for the type of change that I'm talking about, and the view that we're stuck in the past is not true," he said. He reiterated his campaign priori- ties, including climate change, support for public education and economic growth. He also issued a warning to city office-holders that the days of run- ning on name recognition and experi- ence were over. "It means that incumbency is no longer the basic strategy for politics in Woonsocket. It means that everyone in city government is on notice," he said. The win means council meetings will likely have plenty of fireworks going forward, as five sitting council members and the mayor all opposed Kithes in the race. He hinted to UpriseRI that every council meeting will now be must-see viewing. In the days leading up to his win, Kithes said the "establishment is try- ing every dirty trick, every form of nepotism and cronyism, every use of supposedly neutral public forum and media to stop us from succeeding on Tuesday." He had taken particular offense at the publishing of a letter last week in The Breeze from John Ward, brother of founder Tom Ward. Tom Ward had apologized for printing the letter in error, saying it should not have run the week before the election by policy. This race drew spectators from around the state as the two candidates shared their starkly different views in public forums over the past several weeks. For some, the contest was a test of the larger dynamic taking place in politics around the state, where younger, progressive candidates have faced off against experienced office- holders. Kithes, 27, serves as chair- man of Rhode Islanders for Reform, a statewide group supporting rules reform, and made progressive issues such as government transparency and climate change cornerstones of his campaign. Jalette, 76, is a former council president who served for 16 years on the council before launch- ing an unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2016. His focus on lower taxes and the local business community earned him the support of several of the city's prominent politicians, including five of the six sitting council members. In comments to The Breeze, Kithes said he believed his win signaled disenfranchisement among voters in Woonsocket and disappointment in their elected officials. "They want a government that is responsive to them, and when they see that somebody actually represents that, they're excited to vote and actu- ally come out for an election," he said. Those voters included individuals like AJ Chamberlain, a city resident who told The Breeze she joined Kithes' campaign team as a volunteer after meeting him for the first time on primary day. Chamberlain, who cur- rently works for a landscaping com- pany, said her conversations with the candidate inspired her to get involved with the election and also return to graduate school to study environmen- tal issues. "I haven't had somebody make me want to go out and knock on a door because I believed in him that much," she said. Jalette also inspired support in a large base of voters who connected with his message of lowering taxes and keeping the city's spending within its means. Judy Beauchemin, the owner of Missy's Family Restaurant, explained how the former councilor helped guide her through the process of opening her business in 2015 as she hosted a watch party at the restaurant on Tuesday night. "If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have been able to buy this place. He's the best," she said. Jalette said he was surprised at the results and didn't expect to lose the election. Earlier, he told The Breeze he spent close to $8,000 on the race, more than any previous campaign, though the amount paled in com- parison with Kithes' spending, which amounted to nearly twice that figure. "I gave it one of the strongest efforts that I've given any race. But I was outspent and out-manpowered," he said. Keith Jillette, campaign manager for Kithes, attributed the win to voter engagement, including a particular focus over the past month on neigh- borhoods where they'd seen low voter turnout or less success in the primary. Though they'd expected a close race, he said, they didn't realize the result would come down to mail ballots, which accounted for close to 200 votes. "What happened here was a case of really engaging the community in a way they'd never been engaged before," he said. Jalette said it was too early to tell if he plans to run again in the future. In November, he missed re-election to the council by 15 votes in a close finish with former Councilor Julia Brown. Brown left the council to take an out-of-state job in April, leaving the vacant seat to be decided by a special election. ELECTION From Page One ROGER JALETTE SR. and support- ers PAULINE DEMERS, LINDA PAUL and ROBERT PICARD listen to WNRI radio as they tally up the votes at Missy's Family Restaurant Tuesday night. BREEZE PHOTO BY LAUREN CLEM Independently Owned & Operated by George & Malanie Loya Wood Blinds • Shutters • Roman Shades Woven Wood • Custom Drapery Top Treatments • Verticals and more! 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