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Ward 1 hinges on mail ballots
ALL IN THE FAMILY: The victor of Ward 1 Councilperson will be announced today at noon. Democratic candidate Sharon Ahearn, accompanied by her parents Jean and John Jesse, awaited results Tuesday night at the Post Road office of Ward 3 Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson.

UPDATED at 5:05 p.m. on 11-08-12: Ward 1 Councilman Steven Colantuono is re-elected after mail-in ballots were counted. He won by 19 votes. His opponent Sharon Ahearn plans to request recount.

There weren’t any big surprises Tuesday night with the results for the winners of City Council seats, however, the race for the Ward 1 council seat was a nail-biter, as Republican candidate and incumbent Steven Colantuono led Democratic candidate Sharon Ahearn by just 29 votes at about 10 p.m., with 240 uncounted mail-in ballots.

The mail ballot count is expected to be released today at noon.

While Colantuono could not be reached for comment, Ahearn said that she was feeling confident through yesterday.

“I’m floored that it was that close,” she said.

Former Ward 1 Councilman and School Committee member Bob Cushman said during a phone interview yesterday morning he believes the race was so close due to three flyers that he and about a dozen other residents of Ward 1 created and distributed prior to the election.

The first of the flyers was circulated the last week of September and accused Colantuono of seeking a third term for the sole purpose of being eligible for lifetime health care. It asserted that in 2009 he voted on legislation that would award him, and him alone, lifetime health care, a benefit that would cost taxpayers approximately $400,000. The flyer claims that during this year’s budget hearing, Colantuono voted against giving the school department an additional $400,000.

The second flyer brought to the attention of residents the fact that Colantuono introduced and voted for legislation that lowered the car tax exemption from $6,000 to $500, while the third flyer simply reads, “Nothing: That's exactly what Councilman Colantuono did to stop mandatory sewer connection in Gov. Francis Farms Phase II.”

Cushman said he, along with a group of about a dozen other people, educated the people of the ward as to the councilman’s record and influenced them to vote against Colantuono. He said they realized they did not want to vote in favor of someone who “rigged the system for his own personal benefit,” and “refused to explain why and lied about his direct involvement in the process when the Beacon questioned him on it.”

“A lot of people were upset about the issue with lifetime health care and with the car taxes,” Cushman said. “He led the charge with producing legislation for the car tax that directly hurt a lot of people [and] the issue with sewers was another thing. There were many issues that weren’t flattering to his campaign. He didn’t really want to address those issues and the flyers told the truth. We have documentation to support what was on them.”

He also feels that Ahearn’s letter to the editor that ran in the Oct. 2 edition of the Warwick Beacon in which she disavowed any affiliation with the flyers hurt her campaign.

“If she hadn’t done that, I think she would have won right out,” Cushman said. “She should have embraced what we were talking about. Instead of stating she was not involved and labeling the dozen people responsible for producing and distributing it as bashing her opponent, she should have demanded Colantuono respond to the allegations. Colantuono had so many negative issues, the car tax, sewer, lifetime health care and she did nothing to take advantage of them."

When asked if he plans to consider running for office in the future, Cushman said, “Maybe. All my options are open.”

Similarly, Ahearn said running again is also something on her mind. This election marked her first bid for office.

As for Wards 2, 3 and 9, the races had previously been decided, as Tom Chadronet and Ward 9 Councilman Steven Merolla ran unopposed in both the primary and general elections, while Ward 3 Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson, a Democrat, defeated Paul Machado in the September primary.

In an interview Tuesday night at Vella-Wilkinson’s office on Post Road, Chadronet, who was accompanied by his family, said he’s looking forward to serving Ward 2. Council President Bruce Place, who serves Ward 2, did not seek re-election.

Chadronet has lived in Warwick for 35 years. Aside from keeping taxes down, issues concerning sober houses in Norwood are at the top of his list.

“I’ve already started some wheels turning on that,” he said. “There are some legal sober houses, and others that don’t have proper supervision or documentation. Someone just buys the house and rents the room out by the week.”

According to Chadronet, the zoning law reads that up to four unrelated people may live in the same house. He’s hoping to change this law and possibly reduce the number to two.

Ward 4 Councilman Joseph Solomon, a Democrat, was successful in his race for the seat against Republican Mike Penta, who sought the position for the first time. Solomon earned 60.9 percent of the vote, with Penta earning 38.9 percent.

Moments before he voted at Shield’s Post, Solomon said he was a bit saddened that the election was coming to a close. He enjoys the hype leading up to it, as well as meeting new constituents and catching up with ones he has known for years.

Still, he’s thrilled of his win.

“I’m very happy that the people are continuing to pay attention to the results of my hard work over the years and my continued hard work in the future,” he said during a phone interview Tuesday night. “It’s going to be a great City Council going forward. We’ve got some good talent on that council and we’re going to do some good things for the city of Warwick.”

In Ward 5, Democratic candidate Ed Ladouceur took home 55.2 percent of the vote to his opponent’s 44.5 percent. He defeated Republican candidate Danny Hall, who made a second attempt for the seat. He lost to current Ward 5 Councilman John DelGiudice two years ago. DelGiudice did not seek re-election.

Ladouceur said he is “absolutely delighted” of his win and also praised and congratulated Hall for running a “really good” campaign.

“He worked hard,” Ladouceur said during a brief phone interview yesterday afternoon.

As for his victory, he said he couldn’t be happier.

“It’s an honor to be able to serve the people of Ward 5 and the entire city of Warwick,” Ladouceur said. “I’m anxious to tackle all the issues that I discussed with everyone while I’ve been walking the ward the last 15 weeks. I’m anxious to get in there. I can’t wait to get going. And my volunteers were amazing. They did a fabulous job.”

In Ward 6, incumbent and Democrat Donna Travis won against Republican candidate Catharine Leach. Travis reeled in 66.6 percent of the vote, with Leach taking 33.2 percent.

During a brief phone interview moments after the votes came in, Travis expressed her pleasure with her win. She celebrated with family and friends at The Islander at 2318 West Shore Road.

But while rumors have been circulating that she’s thinking about running for council president, she wouldn’t get into details.

“I’m not going to say anything just yet, but there’s a possibility,” Travis said. This will be her 10th term on the council.

Ward 7 Councilman and Democrat Charles Donovan won the election with 46.7 percent of the vote over former independent candidates Ward 7 Councilman Al Gemma, who garnished 33.7 percent of the vote, while William Russo earned 19.5 percent. Donovan, who has been on the council since 2000, said he is considering running for council president.

For now, he’s basking in his victory.

“I’m thrilled that the people of Ward 7 saw fit to bring me back to serve them for the next two years and deal with the issues that are surrounding Ward 7,” said Donovan. “It feels great and it was not an easy campaign. It was a hotbed of activity because you had a political veteran, Al Gemma, and someone who had run twice before in Ward 7, Bill Russo. It was a very hard-fought contest.”

Returning to the council after more than 18 years will be Ward 8 winner Joseph Gallucci, who took home 63 percent of the vote to Lyn Jennings, who ran as a Republican and earned 36.7 percent of the vote. He will replace current Ward 8 Councilman Ray Gallucci, who has been on the council for eight years.

“I enjoyed my service to the people of the ward and all the people of the city [and] I look forward to doing the same this time,” Joseph said moments after his win at his campaign headquarters on Jefferson Boulevard. “I thank and respect everyone that voted.”

Joseph served as Ward 8 councilman from 1977 to 1984, and again from 1990 to 1994, and was also council president from 1977 to 1984. He also expressed his gratitude to his campaign volunteers, especially his brother.

“If it wasn’t for my brother, I would not have won,” he said. “It’s the truth.”


Comments
12 comments on this item

What a surprise....after the voters read how Steve Coluntuano voted to enhance his own well being by voting special healthcare legislation, the tides turned. People in Gov. Francis II never forgot Stevie did nothing to help stop mandatory sewer connections. Don't forget Stevie had to help his master, Scottie hide the impending bankruptcy of the Sewer Authority.Nice work on the car tax increase Stevie...I remember what you didn't do for the taxpayers every time I pay my bill.

Ahern was a joke. The flyers did Stevie in...it certainly wasn't anything Ahern did. Nobody knew her.

No matter who wins the Ward1 council race, voters will have the printing presses ready for additional flyer drops.

I happy to announce that Travis and Wilkinson's Wards have been added the the flyer drop lisits. Both have failed to represent the taxpayers...they are lapdogs for the unions. Can't wait to start educating the residents in those wards.

Another disgruntled voter who posts on here blaming everyone but him or herself. If you have all the answers please run for office so your great ideas and outlooks can be better suited for the citizens of warwick not just ward 1.

Basically it comes down to people who borderline bully. If you have been around Cushman seems to be at the top of the list. How can anyone believe anything this man says. He says he has proof put it in print in your column that only the uneducated read and follow.

He sounds a little disgruntled he got beaten 4 years ago to not get his so called health care for life benefit.

I certainly hope he does run for elected office again, he probably won't even garner enough votes to be put on a ballot but if he pulls it off maybe finally when he gets beaten again he will realize the people of Warwick don't like or want him in any office.

Wouldnt that be a hoot ! Donna Travis for council president. Maybe we should have a test for the president seat. We could start by 1 x 1 =? 2 x 2 =? Then it could get heavy and we could ask her to spell and define words like "Hay" and "Hey". To really top it off we could discuss her delinquent taxes as this mental midget isnt competent enough to pay a $36.00 tax bill. (Actual bill below) Lets elect some more elementary school drop outs and see how it goes.

2011 AUTO TAX BILL OVERDUE

View Bill

Bill Year 2011

Bill 2182889

Owner TRAVIS, DONNA M

View payments/adjustments

Installment Pay By Amount Payments/Credits Balance Due

1 7/15/2011 $30.37 $30.37 $0.00 $0.00

2 10/15/2011 $30.37 $30.37 $0.00 $0.00

3 1/15/2012 $30.37 $0.00 $30.37 $30.37

4 4/15/2012 $30.40 $0.00 $30.40 $30.40

Interest and Penalties $9.72 $0.00 $9.72 $9.72

TOTAL $131.23 $60.74 $70.49 $70.49

2012 AUTO TAX BILL OVERDUE

Bill Year 2012

Bill 22054873

Owner TRAVIS, DONNA M

View payments/adjustments

Installment Pay By Amount Payments/Credits Balance Due

1 7/15/2012 $36.13 $0.00 $36.13 $36.13

2 10/15/2012 $36.11 $0.00 $36.11 $36.11

3 1/15/2013 $36.11 $0.00 $36.11 $0.00

4 4/15/2013 $36.11 $0.00 $36.11 $0.00

Interest and Penalties $5.77 $0.00 $5.77 $5.77

TOTAL $150.23 $0.00 $150.23 $78.01

2012 PROPERTY TAX BILL OVERDUE

Prior unpaid bill(s) exist for this parcel. Please pay prior unpaid bills first.

View Bill

Bill Year 2012

Bill 12036667

Owner TRAVIS, DONNA M

Parcel ID 375-0211-0000

View payments/adjustments

Installment Pay By Amount Payments/Credits Balance Due

1 7/15/2012 $620.85 $0.00 $620.85 $620.85

2 10/15/2012 $620.84 $0.00 $620.84 $620.84

3 1/15/2013 $620.84 $0.00 $620.84 $0.00

4 4/15/2013 $620.84 $0.00 $620.84 $0.00

Interest and Penalties $99.32 $0.00 $99.32 $99.32

TOTAL $2,582.69 $0.00 $2,582.69 $1,341.01

HOW CAN THIS WOMAN SIT ON A FINANCE COMMITTEE OF A CITY AND MANAGE A

275 MILLION DOLLAR BUDGET WHEN SHE CAN’T PAY A $36.00 CAR TAX BILL?

Why does the city still pay her monthly paychecks when she is in arrears in taxes??

KEEP ELECTING MORONS PEOPLE, WE HAVE NOT BEEN LAUGHED AT ENOUGH YET!

Cote is that you that posted that last comment? I thought you were moving to Florida? Wishful thinking......

If I was to move, no one one would be left to keep an eye on the thiefs. Keep daydreaming.

@daydreambeliever - let me try to understand what you are objecting too. A group of citizens get together produce and distribute flyers educating neighbors on the record of the encumbent councilman. The information is factual, yet the councilman refuses to discuss his voting record. And you consider this to be bully tactics. STOP DAY DREAMING and WAKE UP. This is part of the political system - questioning ones record.

Nothing in the flyers was of a personnal nature. Since you are a supporter of the councilman and based on your comments you think its ok for him to receive lifetime healthcare after being in office for 6 years?

The bottom line is that the taxpayers in WARD 1 will not be bullied by Mayor Avedisian, Councilman Colantuono, you or anyone else for that matter. If you cross us you will pay dearly. If you put your own interest above our neighbors, you will pay dearly. And if you continue you will one day get booted out of office.

Pleasant Dreams.

Nobody should ever receive any life time health care for such a ridiculous period of time. That is insaine and shouldn't even be available.

Most of our employees in the city have to serve 20 years plus to obtain this benefit. I will agree with you on that.

As for the flyers being distributed I believe Mr. Cote and Mr.Cushman are not entirely and sincerely being honest about there misgivings in our city the lat few years.

One is a disgruntled businessman who is in the diving business who got persecuted and overlooked for city bids and did violate DEM laws.

Mr Cushman gave the teachers a bevy of a contract a few years ago that caused a ridiculous tax increase.

I agree that any elected officlal should make there voting records public.

We won't all ever agree but that's what makes the voting process and opionions worthwhile. tHis country allows it others don't.

Well the lifetime healthcare for politicians is nolonger available because Councilman Cushman proposed legislation to eliminate it. Councilman Colantuono will now be the last elected official to get it with his re-election.

What do you mean by "are not entirely and sincerely being honest about there misgivings in our city the lat few years".?

What other issues on the flyers do you disagree with?

What do you mean by a "bevy of a contract"? I know the teacher contract was for six years. How much did the teachers get versus the city workers in the same time frame?

@daydreambeliever: I found and have pasted excerpts from a letter Mr. Cushman wrote in the Beacon on 2/12/2012 explaining the teacher contract. It appears he did a better job holding down costs then the mayor did when he negotiated city contracts and that the financial problems during that time were caused by the mayor and city councils poor planning.

[While I do admit aspects of the teacher contract were not perfect, to our credit the School Committee remained steadfast over three plus years of difficult negotiations, refusing to adopt the "go along to get along" philosophy of the mayor, helpful in his reelection campaigns but costly to Warwick taxpayers.

The result, over six years, teacher raises will be 18.5 percent versus municipal raises of up to 21.25 percent. School retirees now pay for health benefits, something the mayor has never accomplished in any negotiations even though he acknowledge that "retiree benefits [are] the big issues of the future," Warwick Beacon, June 1, 2006.

In five years, municipal retiree health coverage has increased 42 percent to approximately $6.7 million, representing more than 5 percent of the city budget. Teacher retiree health costs represent a little more than 1 percent of the school budget. The reason for the wide discrepancy, teacher out-of-pocket prescription drugs expenses are not capped and single plan retirement health coverage terminates at age 65 with no supplemental lifetime coverage of any kind.

Compounding the city's current financial problem was the mayor's refusal to budget for the eventual settlement of the teacher contract, something he repeatedly did in the past for municipal contracts.

The October 7, 2003, Warwick Beacon states, while the amount of money for police raises was not budgeted, "Avedisian is reasonably confident that surpluses in the budget will allow the city to meet the additional cost."

The October 24, 2004, Warwick Beacon describes how the mayor requested more than $1 million to "... be reallocated to cover projected cost overruns in police and fire department overtime, as well as salaries and pension contributions."

The May 12, 2005, Warwick Beacon outlines the mayor's requested increase in spending of almost 9 percent along with a $2.4 million draw down of the surplus to "fund across-the-board pay increases of 3.5 percent, increased health care costs and pension contributions and three new positions."

The School Committee continually recognized the need to set aside funds for the contract maintaining several millions of dollars in the budget over three years while cutting spending and eliminating jobs.

On April 25, 2006, the Providence Journal reported, "Mayor Scott Avedisian has said that he strongly opposes allocating money when there is no contract settlement in sight." Two months later the Warwick Beacon on June 8 reported that the budget passed leaving the school department "without the funds for a future contract with teachers." Several members of the City Council had the courage to stand up and say that the failure to adequately budget for these anticipated expenses would create a financial firestorm in the future, voting against the mayor's budgets. ]

Don't know how the Bob Cushman teachers contract came up but what bothered me at the time and still bothers me is that a large part of the huge contract was for retro payments. That isn't unusual but to pay that large some of money when the teachers worked to rule was terrible

Paying the teachers when they refused to do anything not specifically required by the contract. That was just plain wrong.

We are watching you robbie

"The Captain" wishes he was a captain . .he couldnt navigate a rubber duckie ina bathtub . . .

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