Puccetti, Vowels drop out of election races in North Smithfield

Puccetti, Vowels drop out of election races in North Smithfield

All five contenders will land seats on the Town Council this fall

NORTH SMITHFIELD - Voters in North Smithfield will not have to wait until November to learn the names of their new Town Council members.

Incumbent Councilors Kimberly Alves and Paul Zwolenski will be joined by newcomers Roseanne Nadeau, Robert Paul Boucher and Ernest Alter, if all goes as scheduled and the signatures on the nomination papers the candidates turned in this week check out.

Only five candidates for the five-member board returned the forms, making them a virtual shoo-in. At this point, only a successful write-in campaign - a rarity in any election - could change the dynamic of the council to be seated at the end of this year.

Stephen Vowels, the sixth candidate who had initially declared his intent to run for the non-partisan board, did not return signed papers.

Nadeau, a 35-year-old mother of two young children, describes herself as "honest and transparent." She is a vocal supporter of the new proposed charter school, RISE Mayoral Academy, and made waves with the School Department earlier this year with her attempt to secure early kindergarten admission for her daughter Ruby.

Boucher is a former state legislator who represented District 61, which then covered North Smithfield and portions of Burrillville, in the 1970s and 1980s.

Alter, 76, could be described as a fiscal conservative and over the past two years has been supportive of the current administration led by Paulette Hamilton and a vocal critic of Councilor Edward Yazbak and individuals in the School Department. He has stated that he supports a limited sewer project to bring lines to Andrews Terrace, but not a multi-million dollar sewer line expansion, and is an advocate for statewide union reform.

Incumbent Councilors John Flaherty, Thomas McGee and Yazbak will not be seeking reelection.

On the School Committee, three candidates will fight for two open positions, with neither of the incumbents seeking reelection.

Donna Naradowy did not declare her intent to run, and Chris Puccetti, who was appointed to the board in March by the Town Council to fill the seat left vacant by George Hemond's resignation, pulled papers but did not return the signed forms.

"With three young kids and a demanding job, I feel as though I don't have the time to dedicate to it," Puccetti told The Breeze this week.

Puccetti said he supports two of the candidates who did return their nomination papers: Art Bassett and Merredythe Nadeau.

Bassett works in finance and currently handles compliance at a major bank. The 45-year-old serves as a member of the Planning Board and has two grown children.

"Over the last few years, I've been very critical of the current School Committee and administration, and I thought it was time to become part of the solution rather than an outside critic," Bassett told The Breeze.

Nadeau, 60, works as the executive vice president for Packaging Technology Group and has served on the Budget Committee for the past four years. Nadeau admitted that frustration in working with the current committee is part of what prompted her to run.

"I want to make sure that the kids continue to get a great education, but I also want to see the School Committee completely transparent and to quit bullying the taxpayers," Nadeau said.

The third contender, Fran J. Johannis, served on the School Committee from 2008 to 2012 before losing the seat to William Connell. Johannis, 45, works as a revenue agent for the Department of the Treasury.

"I enjoyed my time serving. It was both educational and rewarding," Johannis told The Breeze. "I'd like to put my strengths, knowledge and commitment to use for both our schools and town. My goal would be to preserve what this town as a whole has accomplished and help to move it forward."

Both Anthony Guertin and Town Administrator Paulette Hamilton also returned their signed papers this week, triggering a race for the town's top office.

None of the municipal races will require a primary election in 2014.