Primary runoff may be needed in District 49

Primary runoff may be needed in District 49

WOONSOCKET - Mayor-elect Lisa Baldelli-Hunt says she hasn't decided yet when she'll resign from her seat representing District 49 in the General Assembly. But when she does, there will be no shortage of candidates looking to take on the job.

At least five individuals have expressed some level of interest in running for the partial term to fill in when Baldelli-Hunt takes over as mayor of Woonsocket.

Michael Morin, a fire marshal and president of IAFF Local 732, who lost a campaign for the seat against Baldelli-Hunt in 2012, indicated his interest early on, but has held back on officially announcing his candidacy. This week, Morin told The Breeze he's still "strongly considering" a campaign.

The other Democratic candidate to fall to the new mayor in a District 49 primary last year, Stuart Gitlow, has also said he's considering.

This week others officially decided against a political campaign.

Albert Beauparlant, a real estate developer and one of the driving forces behind the city's massive 125th anniversary Block Party celebration, admits that he briefly considered running for the soon-to-be-vacant seat at the Statehouse.

"A lot of people have pushed me in that direction," Beauparlant said. "But at this time, because of my affiliation with the Pothier Foundation, it wouldn't be in the best interest to run."

Beauparlant sits on the board of the organization, started earlier this year to provide support to the city's business community.

Jon Brien, the former District 50 representative who lost his seat to firefighter Stephen Casey in 2012, has also said that he is considering relocating to the district and running a campaign. Brien was still uncertain this week if he would officially throw his hat in the ring, and said he first needs to meet with the mayor, and see how she feels he can best help to advance the city and the administration's agenda.

"I want a role in helping to move the city forward in any way I can," he said.

Dave Fisher, a local chef and environmental advocate who lost his bid for mayor in the city's primary in October, has also shown interest in the seat. For a political newcomer with little name recognition up against two career politicians, Fisher's mayoral election showing was strong.

The seat will be filled via a special election, which will be held between 70 to 90 days after the mayor-elect officially resigns. If a primary is required to narrow the field of candidates, it must be held 30 days before that special election, according to Raina C. Smith, director of communications for the Secretary of State's Office.

Choosing a date for that resignation is one of the first tasks on deck for Baldelli-Hunt's transition team. The new mayor announced this week that her campaign manager, Richard Lepine, will head that team.

Lepine is a native of Woonsocket and the founder and president of Lepine Financial Advisers Inc. The team chairman has worked for 26 years as an investment and financial adviser, is a member of the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, and serves on the Woonsocket Investment Board for the Police and Fire Pension Fund.

In 2007, Lepine served as grand marshal of the Autumnfest Parade and has been involved with a number of non-profit organizations over the years.

Lepine said the group is working with the mayor-elect to decide on a resignation date, and is trying to resolve any potential conflict with the upcoming holidays.

"We want to make sure if they throw an election, people are going to show up," Lepine said.

Baldelli-Hunt has until Dec. 3, when the newly elected officials are scheduled to be sworn in, to resign from the seat.