PAWTUCKET – Two women running for City Council in District 6 on the west side of Pawtucket are campaigning for every available vote in the final days leading up to a winner-take-all primary next Tuesday, Nov. 2.
Low turnout is expected at just two available polling locations, with only this single district council race on the ballot when voters head to the polls from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 2.
Marlena Martins Stachowiak and Patricia DeDora-St. Germain are both emphasizing their love of the district and desire to see it flourish as they try to win the right to a seat vacated by departed Councilor Tim Rudd. DeDora-St. Germain is being backed by Rudd, while Martins Stachowiak is receiving the support of Mayor Donald Grebien.
The Democrat who wins the Nov. 2 primary effectively takes the District 6 seat.
Martins Stachowiak says she’s spent considerable time building relationships with council members and the administration, building a rapport and trust to get to a place of mutual respect.
DeDora-St. Germain said her campaign has been going very well as she’s been hitting doors and talking to a lot of neighbors. She said one of the qualities she’s emphasizing on why to vote for her is that “I really am beholden to no one.” Though she’s the endorsed candidate, she said, she believes she’s the outsider in this race, with no one in power using influence or resources to back her. She is beholden only to her neighbors, said DeDora-St. Germain.
“That will be important when I’m actually sitting in the seat,” she said. “You really can put constituents first because they’re the reason you’re in the seat solely.”
Martins Stachowiak said she believes that when people speak with her, they feel her genuine love and passion for District 6. She’s getting a lot of feedback along those lines, she said, and “it means the world to me. I’m glad that impression is coming through.”
She said she has some newer approaches and ideas, bringing a passion and energy and a readiness “to get down to business.”
Martins Stachowiak said she doesn’t want to wait to get results, as has too often been the case, holding people accountable for “quicker timelines than we’ve seen.”
Asked for an example of this, she mentioned lawnmowing and landscaping, saying the city needs an “actual schedule” for removing weeds and picking up trash. She said she loves volunteer community cleanups as much as the next person, but it’s not feasible or fair to expect residents to continue doing that work consistently.
Martins Stachowiak said she was recently at Fairlawn Veterans Memorial Park when she had to pull a trash can closer to the playground so she and her family could more easily throw away trash. Every park should be on a schedule for timely cleanup, she said, and it should be happening often.
She said she’s also been hearing resident complaints about potholes, traffic, and crime, and believes communication needs to be stronger on all issues.
DeDora-St. Germain said she’s emphasizing her involvement with the community to voters, including her previous successful fight against expanding the waste transfer station in Fairlawn, “no small feat,” she said, and “a lot of effort and time on my part.” She said she “did it for our neighbors,” as the people impacted, and she has a history of being responsive in that way while listening and advocating for them. She said she worked “within channels of government to make it happen,” including with city departments and the General Assembly.
It’s not that she wouldn’t be learning on the job, she said, but she has “a good foundation on which to build” with her past work.
DeDora-St. Germain said there is a clear difference between the candidates in this race, as she’s been working in this district for 10 years and “shown up every time.” She said she’s truly independent in this race, questioning why Grebien is so invested in it.
“It’s ironic that I’m being viewed as part of the old clique,” she said. “Really I’m the outsider in the race.”
People continue to be frustrated with the rat problem in Fairlawn, she said, and she also heard similar complaints in Lonsdale over the weekend. They’re also concerned with the condition of sidewalks, litter, and traffic and speeding, asking for a greater police presence. Adding speed cameras on Smithfield Avenue was a small step forward, she said, but now drivers are speeding on Power Road instead.
Asked how she would address litter, DeDora-St. Germain said she would continue to organize the community on picking it up. The city’s WorkShare money-saving program has impacted basic city services, she said, but the city has to better invest in some of its infrastructure, hopefully putting some of its American Rescue Plan Act funds toward improving unsafe sidewalks.
Martins Stachowiak said she’s really connecting with residents on quality of life and public safety issues, saying she’ll focus on making sure local fire stations have up-to-date equipment and police have the tools they need. She said she’s also all about supporting local schools and making sure they’re adequately funded, and that teachers and parents are supported.
Win or lose, said Martins Stachowiak, who is married to Brian and has two sons adopted from foster care, she looks forward to making District 6 a better place for her family and other families. She said she hopes at the end of this race that she and DeDora-St. Germain continue to work together to make the district a better place.
A real estate agent and rental specialist, Martins Stachowiak said she loves educating people on home ownership. She said she’s proud of her recent endorsements by the Rhode Island Latino Political Action Committee and the Service Employees International Union, saying she will always advocate for working families. She is a member of the Riverfront Commission, is an IOCC parent representative, F.A.C.T. board member, Family Service of R.I. foster parent and advocate, member of the greater Providence Board of Realtors, Fairlawn Cardinals fundraising coordinator, Crohns and Colitis Foundation Advocate, a Women’s Fund of Rhode Island Policy Institute fellow, and is a member of St. Anthony’s Church on Lawn Avenue.
DeDora-St. Germain said she still believes residents want to hear directly from the candidates in a debate forum, and that doing only door-to-door visits, as Martins Stachowiak has done, citing a lack of time for such a forum, misses so many of the people who would have an interest in this race, with candidates lucky to find one person to answer the door out of every five houses.
“It’s not as interactive,” she said.
DeDora-St. Germain added that it’s important to hear residents’ questions in such a forum, understanding that the candidates don’t have all the answers and may learn something that they didn’t know about what voters are concerned about.
The director of operations in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island for the private nonprofit Key Program, DeDora-St. Germain is married to David St. Germain. In addition to being president of the Fairlawn Against Crime Together (F.A.C.T.) group, she works with the Rhode Island Coalition for Children and Families and is vice chairwoman of the District 6 Ward Committee.
DeDora-St. Germain says Grebien shouldn’t be so invested in a district council race, suggesting that she might be beholden to what the mayor wants from her.
“He should not be this central to and involved in a district council race, in my opinion,” she said, adding that the mayor’s “full-court press” against her, including visiting voters on his own and asking them to vote for her opponent and put up signs for her, is “unprecedented” given her status as the endorsed Democrat in the race. She said it seems to be personal on his part, “and less about my opponent and me, but about him and me. It’s unfortunate.”
Asked to respond, Martins Stachowiak said she ran last year on her own with no support from anyone and did well, and she’s appreciative of the mayor seeing her as the best candidate in this race now and supporting her, just as she’s appreciative of other supporters.
Grebien knows she’s not going to always agree with him, she said, but it would be silly to have an adversarial relationship with other elected leaders, which is why she’s spent the past year building relationships with the council and administration. With those relationships in place and with good rapport, she said she expects to get results quickly, said Martins Stachowiak.
“I appreciate that he sees in me the same vision of moving Pawtucket forward,” she said.
Martins Stachowiak took home 40 percent of the vote last year against Rudd, with 1,014 total votes cast.
Grebien, who supported the endorsed candidate Clovis Gregor in his winning bid for District 5 earlier this year and is not a member of the Democratic City Committee, said his support for Martins Stachowiak is based on her “commitment, passion and focus” for District 6.
“Marlena ran for council last year and again now, to represent the Sixth District objectively, full-time, and to do what is right for the residents she wants to represent,” he said. She is again working hard after running last year as an outsider to give residents a choice and without his support, said Grebien.
“She did not have the endorsement last year either. To try and make an issue about my supporting the unendorsed candidate is a stretch, and a non-issue,” he said. “Heck, I wasn’t the endorsed candidate when I originally ran for mayor. The residents want the most qualified, passionate, and dedicated candidate.”
As mayor, said Grebien, he is asking residents of the district to do their research on the candidates.
“Once they do, I’m sure, like me, they will be supporting Marlena Martins Stachowiak, wife, mother of two adopted sons, small business owner, and lifelong resident of District 6,” he said.
DeDora-St. Germain won the district committee endorsement by a 3-2 margin, with two people absent and both she and Martins Stachowiak voting for themselves.
Two polling locations will be open Nov. 2
PAWTUCKET – Woodlawn Baptist Church, 337 Lonsdale Ave., and the Howard Rogers Post 25, 25 McCallum Ave., are the two polling locations for the Nov. 2 primary.
Those who would normally vote at Woodlawn Baptist, Kennedy Housing or the Leon Mathieu Center will vote at Woodlawn Baptist, while those who would vote at the Smithfield Avenue Fire Station will vote at the Howard Rogers Post (right side), those who would vote at Nathanael Greene Elementary would vote at the Rogers Post (right side), and those who would vote at the Elwood Euart Post would vote on the left side of the Howard Rogers Post.
Residents must vote from their assigned polling location. Call the Board of Canvassers hotline with questions at 401-722-1637. Early voting at City Hall ends at 4 p.m. on Nov. 1.