Island voters make their choices
It took until about noon on Wednesday, November 9 to get the full and final results in this year’s election in New Shoreham. There were of course, plenty of write-in votes to tabulate and at Town Hall members of the Board of Canvassers were busy in the vault poring over the ballots. This time none were for Donald Duck or Goofy.
When election papers were filed last June, residents were surprised to learn that all the candidates for Town Council were running unopposed, and there were fewer candidates than positions.
Current council member Keith Stover ran unopposed for First Warden, Second Warden Sven Risom was unopposed in his bid to remain in that position, and there were only two candidates for the three open council seats - incumbent Martha Ball (Democrat) and Steven Filippi (Independent).
Stover garnered 653 votes for First Warden and there were 17 write-ins. Of those, about half were for former First Wardens, including Andre Boudreau, Ken Lacoste, Ed McGovern, and Kim Gaffett.
In the “race” for Second Warden, Risom had 631 votes and there were 14 write-ins. Stover got two of those votes and 12 people got one vote each, including Les Slate.
Slate, who passed away on Memorial Day in 2021, famously ran for Town Council in each and every election for decades, but never won, although he was sometimes not very far behind.
For the three at large council seats, Ball took the top number of votes at 509. Following her was Margaret “Molly” O’Neill with 369 votes, and Neal Murphy with 363.
Chris Willi received 210 write-in votes for Town Council and Filippi received 92. Various others also received write-in votes. Several people got one, two people got two, and current council member Mark Emmanuelle received five.
In what was really the only contested race when papers were filed in June, that of the Block Island Land Trust, there were four candidates on the ballot for three positions. The top vote-getters were incumbents Harold “Turtle” Hatfield with 572, and Barbara MacMullan with 523. Andrew Transue received 491 votes, so he will fill the open fifth seat on that board. Keith Lang chose not to run for re-election.
Chris Warfel, who ran on a platform calling for the Land Trust to rethink its mission and do more for affordable and attainable housing, received 316 votes for Land Trust. He did however get elected to the Block Island Housing Board. There were no candidates for that seat on the ballot, and Warfel received 29 write-in votes.
Alicia Miro received seven write-in votes for the Housing Board, and John Spier and Cindy Pappas also received votes, although they are already members.
School Committee was also an all write-in election, with Persephone Brown and Charles Weber prevailing, so they will return to their seats.
The only candidate on the ballot for Town Moderator was O’Neill, but since she has been elected to the Town Council, she will not be able to serve in that role.
Enter the written-in, where it was a close finish between Doug Michel, Ryan McGarry and Chris Blane. Blane finished first with seven votes. Michel had five, and McGarry six.
McGarry got 665 votes though for Assistant Town Moderator. He was the lone name on the ballot for that position, and is the youngest resident to run and serve in a town office in recent memory.
And finally, Tom Durden will remain as Town Sergeant and Chelsea (Phelan) Redd, who ran as a write-in will become Tax Assesor.
Block Island, as usual, swayed blue in the elections state-side. They chose incumbent Governor Dan McKee, with 75 percent of the vote over Ashley Kalus who received 19.9 percent.
Democrat Seth Magaziner prevailed over Republican Allan Fung in the Congressional District 2 race with 572 votes to Fung’s 162. Magaziner will replace longtime Representative Jim Langevin who chose not run for re-election.
For state representative, Block Island chose Democrat Tina Spears over Republican John Pacheco with 79.9 percent to 20.1 percent.
Alana DiMario won her bid for re-election as state senator for District 36 with 551 island votes to challenger Patrick Murray's 169.
Both Spears and DiMario were the overall winners in their districts.
The other state races followed suit, with Block Island generally choosing Democratic candidates over Republicans by a margin of 75 to 79 percent.
As for the state ballot questions, Block Island resoundingly voted “yes” for the URI Bay Campus, Rhode Island school buildings, and Green Economy Bonds. Island voters were more mixed on the subject of the issuance of cannabis licenses. The percent voting “yes” was 54.9 (372 votes) and voting “no” was 45.1 percent with 305 votes.