PAWTUCKET – At least two candidates are preparing to officially declare their intention to run for the City Council District 6 seat vacated by former Councilor Tim Rudd, though both Patricia DeDora-St. Germain and Marlena Martins Stachowiak are already hitting high gear on the streets.
All candidates are required to declare their candidacy this Thursday and Friday, Sept. 23-24, and must then collect signatures to qualify for the ballot. This is the second special election needed in less than a year, after Clovis Gregor previously won an election to replace the late Ama Amponsah.
DeDora-St. Germain, longtime neighborhood organizer and regional director of operations for The Key Program, and Martins Stachowiak, a real estate agent with RE/MAX who previously ran against Rudd and has also worked on neighborhood causes, are looking to replace Rudd in a special election that is set for Dec. 7.
Both women said they haven’t heard of any other candidates set to declare for the race, but said that doesn’t mean no one else will run for the seat.
DeDora-St. Germain said campaigning has been tough while working a full-time job, but it’s also been fun so far. She said she’s doing most of her campaigning on the weekends, and is hearing positive and encouraging words from residents. She’s visited about 140 homes so far, she said on Monday, and while not everyone opens the door, the people who do answer have been friendly. Most seem hopeful about the city overall, she said, but “would like to see certain things strengthened.”
Martins Stachowiak, who is setting up her headquarters at 404 Smithfield Ave., next to Pawtucket House of Pizza and three doors from where she grew up, said she’s preparing to really ramp up the campaign and is excited about where it will go, with good momentum already.
Martins Stachowiak said residents continue to express concerns about public safety and the potential for crime to spill over from Providence. People are also looking forward to some revamping of Veterans Memorial Park, she said, and she’s been working behind the scenes for more than a year at organizing a dog park there. As people come in to visit that resource, she said, it will hopefully be a stepping stone to other improvements in improving what is already a desirable neighborhood to make it more walkable and attractive.
Schools are always an issue for residents, she said, but the primary responsibilities of district councilors are related to public safety and quality of life.
Martins Stachowiak said she’s excited for this second run at the seat a year after she campaigned against Rudd with the mantra that the district needs representation. She said she plans to “stay on the job” for residents if elected.
DeDora-St. Germain, who won the endorsement of Rudd and who says her campaign headquarters is her dining room, said she hopes people recognize the work she’s done as a volunteer in Fairlawn with such groups as Fairlawn Against Crime Together, and believe that she’s the right person to address quality of life issues on their behalf. She said this is an exciting time to be on the council, with some of the developments coming along, and she would like to represent the district on the more “nuts and bolts” items such as city services.
DeDora-St. Germain told The Breeze that resident concerns are centered on the city’s transfer station, rodents, “litter’s huge,” speeding, and running stop signs. Her neighborhood is a cut-thru, she said, and she would like to see more of a police presence to address it.
Also on her radar is further redevelopment of the downtown and wanting to see the tax burden spread out a bit more, she said, though quality of life in neighborhoods will be her top priority. The new train station “is a wonderful thing,” she said, so the city will have to make sure it is maximized.
DeDora-St. Germain said she loves the beautification efforts that have been made in the downtown of late, but would like to see that initiative spread to more neighborhoods to make them more beautiful and places people want to be. She noted that she has a relationship with several frontline workers in Pawtucket, and that they do a great job on a daily basis.
Both candidates said they think the city can do better when it comes to street trees, DeDora-St. Germain saying more trees should either be replaced or the resulting holes addressed in some way.
Martins Stachowiak said there’s certainly room for improvement in that area, saying the west side of the city could use more landscaping. She said she understands the Department of Public Works was “a little stripped during COVID times,” but would like to see “green-scaping” on a more consistent basis. She said she would also like to see that when there are instances of residents calling to get something fixed, that the turnaround is a bit faster, with better communication. As a real estate agent, she said, she understands how important those details are to a neighborhood being desirable and residents being proud of it.
Both candidates also said that other elected officials have been helpful to them as they’ve embarked on this special election campaign, which, if past precedent is any indication, could be decided with about 1,000 votes combined.
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Both candidates were asked this week if they have ambitions for higher office.
Martins Stachowiak said her heart right now is about working closely with her neighborhood and community, and she would never rule out a run for another office at some point in the future, but this is where she wants to be.
DeDora-St. Germain says this isn’t a stepping stone for her, saying she wants to stay at the city level and has no interest in anything beyond city councilor and helping people in her community.