Beauregard loses North Smithfield Town Council seat

Beauregard loses North Smithfield Town Council seat

Voters reject appointed administrator question

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Town residents re-elected three incumbents and added two new faces to the Town Council Tuesday in an election that saw six candidates trying for five seats.

Teresa Bartomioli, Claire O’Hara and Paul Zwolenski all won re-election, while Paul Vadenais, a previous or current member of several town boards, and Douglas Osier, Jr., a two-year resident who has previously served on the Budget Committee, also claimed seats.

John Beauregard, current Town Council president, did not win re-election and placed last with 13.7 percent of the vote. Beauregard became the target of critics after he sponsored a controversial measure requesting that town departments refrain from purchasing Nike products in response to the company’s sponsorship of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick earlier this year. Beauregard, a former state police officer, claimed the non-binding request was simply a show of support for police, but the measure drew criticism from residents and national attention after some claimed it was racist.

Beauregard declined to comment to The Valley Breeze for this story.

The other council results appeared to offer a deeper look at residents’ thoughts following the incident. O’Hara and Zwolenski, the two councilors who voted in favor of the Nike resolution before it was recalled a week later, came in last and second to last out of candidates elected to the council, while Bartomioli, the one incumbent running for re-election who voted against the resolution, placed second. Osier, a first-time candidate who campaigned on a platform of increasing transparency and fostering change in town government, placed third.

“I think they were ready for change in a positive direction,” Osier told The Breeze. “I think a lot of people felt like they maybe weren’t being represented as well, and they wanted to be included in that process.”

Megan Staples, a town resident who announced a write-in campaign following the Nike resolution, did not win. Unofficial results from the Board of Elections indicated write-in candidates secured 3.4 percent of the vote, or 618 individual votes.

Vadenais, who most recently served on the Municipal Buildings Review Task Force, was the top vote-getter. Speaking to The Breeze Tuesday night, he said he thought the vote showed residents’ confidence in his abilities as demonstrated by past positions.

“I’m ready to work with anybody, it’s never been my way or the highway type of thing. It’s going to be, ‘work with what’s best for the town,’” he said.

Zwolenski on Tuesday said he was disappointed that Beauregard was not re-elected but looked forward to working with “new blood” on the council. This will be his eighth consecutive term serving on the council.

“The Nike situation was misconstrued and just got blown out of proportion,” he said. “(John Beauregard is) one of the finest council presidents I had the opportunity to work with.”

Residents also elected two candidates to the School Committee’s two open elected positions. William Connell, an attorney and former School Committee member, won the highest number of votes, while current appointed member Paul Jones also won a seat. Francesca Johannis, a current appointed member, did not win re-election.

“It’s tough, because the three candidates who were running, I think we all care so deeply about North Smithfield,” said Jones, noting the three candidates’ similar views on school-related issues.

Residents also considered several local referendum questions, approving a $1 million bond for an extension of the Slatersville water system and voting on proposed town charter amendments. In a two-thirds vote, residents rejected a proposed amendment that would have enacted a switch from an elected to an appointed town administrator, repeating a vote that was taken in 2010. Town Administrator Gary Ezovski, who ran unopposed for re-election this year, had expressed his support for the switch.

Voters approved eight other proposed charter amendments, including removing two appointed positions from the School Committee, increasing the administrator’s term to four years, establishing term limits, reducing the number of signatures required for a recall, increasing the debt limit that doesn’t require a vote of residents and establishing an Asset Management Commission. Changes related to the town administrator and School Committee positions will take effect in December 2020.