SOUTH KINGSTOWN – The voters, and the candidates especially, anxiously awaited the results of the election for nearly 48 hours after the polls closed on Tuesday night.
Due to the sheer volume of mail ballots that were cast in Rhode Island, amounting to more than 42,000, according to the Board of Elections, results could not be provided until late Thursday afternoon. Although the overall results of the election did not change in regards to which candidates will and will not appear on the ballot come November, the margins of victory and defeat did change considerably in some cases from the preliminary results.
In the race for town council, mail ballots results solidified which candidate, out of the six that threw their hats into the primary race, would not appear on the ballot in November.
Preliminary results from in-person and emergency ballots showed Democratic endorsed candidate Ed Myszak at the bottom of the polls. Mail ballots, from which Myszak won 1,262 votes, were not enough to pull him out of last place, however.
“It's pretty amazing to see the turn out for someone who was pretty much an unknown, that didn't spend or ask for money, didn't make any signs, and didn't go bonkers posting and calling,” Myszak wrote on his official candidate Facebook page last Thursday evening. “This may be it for me in this election cycle, but I'll definitely be back to run for something again.”
“I just wanted to thank everyone who spent a part of their vote to support me,” he added, taking a moment to also thank his family for their support.
Although his place was solidified by mail ballot results, other candidates' margins of victory in the primary race changed considerably after all the votes were tabulated.
Notably, unendorsed Democratic Candidate Deb Bergner had a strong lead in the polls. Results from in-person voting showed Bergner a mere three votes behind incumbent Town Council President Abel Collins. His lead slightly increased once emergency ballots were accounted for the following afternoon, though Bergner still tailed behind closely by a difference of only 10 votes.
The most recent, up-to-date results available from the Board of Election show a wider difference between the two candidates when it comes to in-person polling results, though they appear to be tied when it comes to emergency ballots. *All results are unofficial until the South Kingstown Board of Canvassers are able to certify the results of the primary.
Collins held a strong lead over his fellow primary candidates once all mail votes were tabulated last Thursday, earning 1,757 votes. In all, Collins was able to secure 19.5 percent of the vote, coming in with 2,963 votes between in-person, emergency and mail ballot voting.
Bergner was able to win 1,094 mail ballot votes, earning her 15 percent of the vote, overall. Although she dropped from second to fifth place once all of the mail ballots were tabulated, the 2,280 votes she earned from her fellow community members was enough to earn her a place on the general election ballot.
“We are on to November! I am honored and humbled to earn a place on the ballot for Town Council,” Bergner shared in a post to her official candidate Facebook page last Friday. “Thank you for your support and I will work hard to be your voice at the table.”
Councilwoman Deb Kelso, who had been in fourth place on election night before emergency and mail ballots were tabulated, jumped into the second place seat. Between in-person, emergency and mail ballots, Kelso took home 17.6 percent of the vote – tailing Collins by 278 votes.
Councilman Rory McEntee, who received 1,547 mail ballot votes, was the only candidate whose stance was not affected by the new tabulations. On election night, McEntee went home in third place with 17.5 percent of the vote. Despite huge gains from emergency and mail ballot results, McEntee retained his placement and percentage standings.
Newcomer Jessica L. Rose jumped from fifth place to last place once mail ballots were tabulated, winning 16.4 percent of the vote, according to the Rhode Island Board of Elections.
In the race for school committee, the names of those who’ll not appear on the November ballot were also solidified by mail ballot results. The preliminary results from in-person voting, which trickled in for more than an hour and half after polls closed on election night, showed School Committee Chair Stephanie Canter in last place.
Although mail ballot results were enough to place Canter 200 votes ahead of fellow school committee candidate Cadence L. Hansen, it wasn’t enough to get her name on the ballot for re-election in November.
“That's a wrap for my formative time spent serving on the school committee,” Canter wrote on her personal Facebook page last Thursday night. “I am so thankful for everyone that encouraged me to be brave until the end! I will always fight for students and teachers, and fight to elect leaders that do the same.”
“Time to hold a sign for progressives in November, show up to the Statehouse and advocate for education, and enjoy some Tuesday nights with my kids,” she added.
Canter took home 15.4 percent of the vote, with Hansen following closely behind with 13.9 percent of the vote. Hanson topped Canter by 149 votes according to in-person voting results from the Rhode Island Board of Elections, and was still able to hold her edge even when Canter surpassed her by 16 emergency ballots.
It wasn’t until mail ballots were tabulated that Hanson dropped into last place. Canter won 1,270 mail ballots compared to Hanson’s 908, according to the Board of Elections.
Those whose names will appear on the November ballot include endorsed Democratic candidates Paula Whitford and Christie Fish, and unendorsed candidates Melissa Boyd and incumbent Michelle Brousseau.
Preliminary, in-person voting results had placed Boyd at the head of the pack, though most up-to-date results from the Board of Election now put her in third place with 17 percent of the vote. Boyd won 989 votes from community members voting in-person, 155 emergency ballot votes and 1,167 mail ballot votes.
On her official candidate Facebook page, Boyd shared that she was “excited to report that the numbers are in and this new voice will get to stay in the race.”
“Thank you, thank you to the incredible supporters of the Final 3 and to all who participated in our local election process,” she continued, acknowledging those who supported Brousseau, Hansen and herself – the final three names on the primary ballot for school committee. “Every vote counts!”
Preliminary, in-person voting results showed Whitford closely tailing Boyd, though mail ballots helped to place her firmly in the lead. While Boyd was able to capture more in-person and emergency ballot votes, Whitford received 1,548 mail ballot votes – more than any other school committee candidate.
In all, Whitford earned 2,668votes from her fellow community members, amounting to 19.6 percent of the vote. Two-hundred and fifteen votes behind her, fellow newcomer and endorsed candidate Fish was able to secure 18 percent of the vote.
Though Fish had been discouraged by preliminary in-person voting results, which put her in fourth place on election night, her second place billing ensures that her name will go before the voters again in November.
On her official candidate Facebook page, Fish shared that she was “looking forward to the next seven weeks.”
“Thank you to ALL of the voters that came out to show your support,” Fish wrote. “We need you to continue on this journey with us until the end.”
In fourth place, incumbent school committee member Michelle Brousseau was able to capture 16.2 percent of the vote. On election night, Brousseau held onto 17.7 percent of the vote, with these preliminary results putting her in third place.
Brousseau received 952 in-person votes, 136 emergency ballot votes and 1,120 mail ballot votes from her fellow community members.
Races for State Senators & Representatives
For those who hope to represent South Kingstown on Smith Hill, incumbents were able to win the majority of votes from their challengers.
Longtime Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D - Dist. 37 – New Shoreham, South Kingstown) held a slight lead over newcomer Maggie Kain on election night, though her margin of victory grew after all of the mail ballot results had been tabulated.
In-person voting results showed Sosnowski ahead of Kain by 133 votes. After thousands of mail ballots were counted, Sosnowski’s lead over her challenger grew by 819 votes. When factoring votes from Block Island residents, her overall lead was actually 878 votes.
In a post to her official candidate Facebook page, Kain wrote that even though the results didn’t turn out the way she wanted to, from her “vantage point, I see a win for all of us.”
“I just wanted to show that my platform – the green new deal, a living wage, legalizing cannabis, reworking the tax code in Rhode Island – are all things that we value down here in South Kingstown,” Kain said during a phone interview on Wednesday evening. “And that should be elected by our elected officials.”
She was encouraged by the number of first-time voters who came out to the polls, and she believes “the more people that are involved in government, the more accountable elected officials will be.”
Kain said she’s thrilled about the outcomes for other Rhode Island Political Cooperative candidates, and she plans to continue lending her voice and efforts towards causes she cares about, and will advocate to her elected officials on Smith Hill.
Republican candidate David Tacey, who did not face a challenger in his closed primary, took home 298 votes from his fellow South Kingstown community members, and 316 votes overall, when factoring votes from Block Island residents. The majority of his supporters voted in-person on the day of the primary, with 226 votes, though Tacey also received 78 mail ballot votes and 12 emergency ballot votes.
Sen. Bridget Valverde (D - Dist. 35 – E. Greenwich, N. Kingstown, S. Kingstown, Narragansett) did not face a challenger in the primary, but she will face off against Republican East Greenwich challenger Charles P. Callanan. Despite neither of them facing a challenger on their closed primary ballots, Valverde received 119 votes in South Kingstown compared to Callanan’s 12 votes. Statewide, Valverde won 2,222 votes and Callanan won 417 votes.
Sen. Dennis L. Algiere (R - Dist. 38 –Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly) ran unopposed for his seat and won 30 votes in South Kingstown. Statewide, he won 345 votes.
South Kingstown incumbents if the Rhode Island House were also challenged for their seats on Smith Hill this election cycle.
Rep. Teresa A. Tanzi (D - Dist. 34 – Narragansett, South Kingstown) faced off against primary challenger Gina M. Giramma, who in South Kingstown, only captured 312 votes. In her home community of Narragansett, Giramma did not fare much better – only capturing 331 votes. Overall, Tanzi held onto 71 percent of the vote – 1,573 when comparing in-person, emergency and mail ballot votes from both communities.
Comparatively, Giramma only won 643 votes between the two communities and will not appear on the November Ballot.
Rep. Kathleen A. Fogarty (D - Dist. 35 – South Kingstown) also faced off against Democratic challenger Spencer Dickinson, who previously held the seat. Preliminary, in-person results had shown Dickinson less than 200 votes behind Fogarty, though mail ballot results strengthened her lead.
Overall, Fogarty earned 75.7 percent of the vote over Dickinson. Between in-person, emergency and mail ballots, she won 1,182 votes compared to Dickinson’s 379 votes.
In a statement on her official candidate Facebook page last Thursday, Fogarty shared that she was overwhelmed by the amount of support she’s “received over the last 18 years, but especially this year.”
“It has been a difficult 2 years standing up for open and ethical government,” she wrote. “I am so humbled that my friends and neighbors continue to send me back to Providence. My promise to District 35 is that I will work hard for you every single day. I will hold leadership’s feet to the fire.”
“We can clean up this state together,” she continued. “I am looking forward to fighting the good fight. Thank you for having faith in me.”
The morning following the election, on his personal Facebook page, Dickinson stated that “the voters are always right.”
“It’s extremely unlikely it would be a different outcome,” he said during a phone interview that same day, “but miracles do happen.”
Unopposed incumbent Representatives Blake Fillippi (R – Dist. 36, Charlestown, New Shoreham, South Kingstown, Westerly) and Carol Hagan McEntee (D – Dist. 33, Narragansett, South Kingstown) won 56 and 906 votes, respectively. Statewide, between in-person, emergency and mail ballots, Fillippi won 248 votes and McEntee won 1,815 votes.