Mail ballots show it ain’t over until it’s over

Mail ballots show it ain’t over until it’s over

PAWTUCKET – Alexis Schuette said her time on the campaign trail had given her clues on how the mail balloting would turn out. As she walked, those who were giving her the most positive reception were also telling her they planned to vote by mail.

“I had a feeling the mail would come through,” she said.

Schuette was down by 56 votes after primary day votes were cast, 296-240. But Schuette had a significant edge on emergency ballots, 62-39, and then outscored incumbent City Councilor John Barry III by a wide margin on the mail ballots, or 319-240 and 57 percent of the total vote.

It was all enough to push Schuette from 45.6 percent of the vote to 51.8 percent, more than enough to unseat a 30-year council veteran.

“Even though I felt confident going in, it was still a surprise to see it on paper, on the internet,” she said. Once she saw she was within sight of Barry after the poll vote, she said she started to feel more confidence.

Schuette will now face independent Joe Flanagan in the general election. She said a recent candidate survey from the George Wiley Center showed that he’s similar to Barry in that they simply have differing approaches to achieving their goals for the city. Flanagan has been in the neighborhood for a long time and has people behind him, said Schuette, so it will be about getting her message out and working hard in the general election campaign.

Barry told The Breeze this week that he’d heard weeks before primary day that Schuette and others were “really working the mail ballots,” so when he learned that he was only up 48 votes in the polling place tally, he knew there was a chance he could lose it.

Schuette ended up outscoring Barry by a total of 319 to 240 mail ballots, and 62-49 on the emergency ballots, earning her 51.8 percent of the total against an incumbent who’s served three decades.

Barry called this year’s election a weird one, acknowledging that he didn’t really go after mail ballots in a big way.

“The voters could also be saying they’ve had enough of me, and that’s their right,” he said.

He said he’s always maintained that voters have the ultimate say over term limits.

“It’s their seat to bestow, and theirs to take away,” he said.

Barry said he’s “not saying never” on running again, but “at the moment it’s not in my thoughts.” The next two years will be very difficult ones for anyone in office and it will be hard to please people, he said.

Asked if he’s endorsed anyone in the race between Schuette and Flanagan, Barry said no, but his normal course of action is to support the Democrat in the race.

Flanagan ran as a Democrat in 2018 in a three-way race against Barry. This time he’s running as an independent against Schuette.

Barry said he lives, eats and drinks politics, so he’ll probably stay involved in some way. If Nov. 3 doesn’t go well, he said, with a Trump loss, he can’t imagine the chaos of the next four years and leadership will become even more important.

Schuette said she would love to talk to Barry about his experience as council member, particularly if she’s fortunate enough to win the November election.

She agreed with Barry that this was an important election, and her response was to get her message out early and work the mail ballots. She said she was in awe of those working the polls to ensure free and fair elections and to make sure everything went smoothly, and expects that practice round will make for a smoother process in November.

Schuette’s win contributed to marked improvement among the It’s Her Time group seeking office this year, making for a second win among six races and a potential third if Janie Seguí Rodríguez wins her recount bid.

Seguí Rodríguez within three votes

Mail ballots also favored Janie Seguí Rodríguez in her race for City Council District 5 against Ama Amponsah. She was asking for a recount this week after coming in three votes shy of Amponsah with seemingly all votes counted.

Seguí Rodríguez also cited “multiple irregularities” for why she chose to seek a recount.

“Win or lose, I am grateful for the experience I gained, and the willingness of my neighbors to meet with me and share their vision for a more inclusive Pawtucket,” she said. “I am deeply appreciative of the trust many of my neighbors have placed in me during the campaign.

“I ran for City Council along with a slate of strong, independent women committed to improving our city. Whatever the outcome, Ward 5 will send a woman of color with lived experience to the council, making it the most representative council in our city’s history. Congratulations to my fellow It’s Her Time slate members, Alexis Schuette and Melissa DaRosa, for winning their elections, and proving the demand within Pawtucket for a more representative and responsive City Council.”

Segui was down 232 votes to 175 votes in polling place numbers, but outscored Amponsah 256-202 on mail ballots. The two were even at 37 votes apiece on emergency ballots, for a total of 471-468, or 50.2 percent to 49.8 percent. The Board of Elections announced Monday that recounts in close races will happen later this week.

DaRosa solidifies big win 
in at-large race

Mail ballots failed to save incumbent Councilor Albert Vitali Jr., who lost his seat after coming in fourth place behind Melissa DaRosa. DaRosa was up on Vitali by 206 votes after polling place numbers were announced, but she expanded that gap to 642 votes after mail ballots and emergency votes were counted.

DaRosa joined Michael Araujo and Elena Vasquez as the top three vote-getters for the at-large seats, with no one challenging them in the general election.

Supporters were pointing to the success of a bullet vote campaign, where residents vote for just one candidate instead of three, for helping the city’s longtime non-violence advocate to the win.