PAWTUCKET – Marlena Martins Stachowiak won the special election for City Council District 6 on Tuesday, defeating Patricia DeDora-St. Germain with 56 percent of the vote, or 300 to 234.
The results weren’t expected to be finalized until Wednesday, but Martins Stachowiak had the clear margin after the predicted low voter turnout.
“It feels really, really, really good,” she told The Breeze after her win.
Martins Stachowiak said everything she heard during the day at the Howard Rogers Post and Woodlawn Baptist Church polling locations was positive, with voters appearing very receptive. She said she’s ready to get to work, including priorities such as public safety, continuing to improve the area of Veterans Memorial Park, and adding a dog park there.
“I’m going to make sure I’m listening and I’m being responsive,” she said of her early days as councilor.
She congratulated DeDora-St. Germain on running a good campaign.
Martins Stachowiak said she stayed positive throughout, staying off social media and not taking shots at her opponent.
“That’s just who I am,” she said.
Tuesday’s winner-take-all primary election was a test of political allegiances, with DeDora-St. Germain endorsed by former District 6 Councilor Tim Rudd and Martins Stachowiak backed by Mayor Donald Grebien. Rudd and DeDora-St. Germain were sharply critical of the mayor’s previous efforts to expand the city’s waste transfer station in Fairlawn, and those tensions were still evident in this campaign.
Martins Stachowiak gives Grebien an even more friendly City Council than was already in place. Her win was powered by her performance at the Woodlawn Baptist Church polling location, where she won 70 percent of the 195 votes cast.
Representatives from the winner’s campaign said they thought there were still some outstanding mail ballots to count.
Turnout was 6.29 percent of the 8,526 voters in the district located on the west side of the city, according to the unofficial results from the Rhode Island Board of Elections.
This was Pawtucket’s second special election for City Council this year, after Clovis Gregor won the race to replace the late Ama Amponsah.
Martins Stachowiak said she’s “just a mom” who loves to give back. She said she appreciated all the help from all the volunteers on her campaign.
DeDora-St. Germain had billed herself as the outsider in the race, criticizing what she called the “unprecedented” support from Grebien for Stachowiak given her own status as the endorsed Democrat in the race.
DeDora-St. Germain promoted her “outsider” candidacy, saying it was ironic that she was considered part of the inner clique. Martins Stachowiak said during the campaign that she was grateful for the support from Grebien, after he stayed out of her 2020 race against Rudd, but also noted that she doesn’t agree with the mayor on everything, and would advocate for improvements in the neighborhood if elected.
With early voting again allowed at City Hall, candidates again had to maintain the mentality that residents could log their vote at any time, forcing them to get their message out early and with more urgency.
DeDora-St. Germain had challenged Martins Stachowiak to a debate-style forum in front of constituents, but Martins Stachowiak declined, saying she wanted to avoid the drama of such an event and that a better use of her time was to meet voters at their doors and hearing from them one on one.
The Breeze will be reporting more on this election next week.