B.I. voters get a pre-election look at the candidates
Over 70 people showed up for the candidates forum on Sunday afternoon, proving that democracy can compete with the Patriots on Block Island.
The forum, sponsored by the Block Island Residents Association and The Block Island Times, was focused on candidates for Town Council, which has a First Warden, Second Warden and three at-large members.
When election papers were filed last June there were few candidates – one each for first and second wardens, and two for the three positions on the council. Running unopposed for First Warden is Keith Stover, a current council member; for Second Warden, incumbent Sven Risom is also unopposed. For the three at-large council seats, only incumbent Martha Ball (Democrat) and Steve Filippi (Independent) filed candidacy papers.
It wasn’t long before there were rumors of this person or that person thinking about running as a write-in candidate and three have emerged. They are Margaret “Molly” O’Neill, Neal Murphy, and Christopher Willi. The write-in candidates bring the field to five for the three council seats, with the top vote-earners winning the positions.
All the candidates for Town Council except for Filippi, who was ill, attended Sunday’s event, which was emceed by BIRA President Joe Loya. Each candidate stood to introduce themselves and give an opening statement. Then it was on to answering questions submitted by the public in writing. No one in the audience was permitted to stand to ask questions, although they could still be submitted in writing throughout the afternoon.
Many of the questions centered around senior issues, with one questioner stating that 40 percent of Block Island residents are elderly. They then veered into how the council could support various social services, business services, capital improvements, and whether or not the council could work together.
While answers varied somewhat, the candidates seemed to be on the same page when it came to several issues, especially when asked whether they could work together.
The forum was recorded on Zoom and is available for those that missed it on BIRA’s Facebook page at: https://fb.watch/gx3-GsxVy6/ or on its YouTube channel at: https://youtu.be/Ie5HOAKSUYw.
Others running as write-in candidates for town offices are Persephone Brown and Charles Weber for School Committee, and Chelsea (Phelan) Redd for Tax Assessor.
The election is on Tuesday, November 8 and will be held at Town Hall from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.