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Tight Providence Council race among newcomers hinges on mail ballots

November 18th, 2015 Posted in Opinion

By Amanda Wray

PROVIDENCE — A tight race among the six Providence City Council candidates meant no winners were announced after the Nov. 3 election, and that the final results could change as mail-in ballots were included in the final count. The official final canvass took place Tuesday.

Unofficial municipal election results named the winners as Roy Sneddon, 813 votes; Kirk Allen, 801 votes; and Dennis Giles, 781 votes.

As the mail-in votes were being added to the tally, it was statistically possible that Jeff Turley, who was in fourth place after Nov. 3, could edge out one of the top three. Turley had 764 votes, followed by Sandra Checketts with 687 and Rowan Cecil, 656 votes.

The three winners will replace Bill Bagley, John Russell and Ralph Call on the Council.

Mayor Don Calderwood said the city office received enough ballots the day after the election for Turley to potentially unseat any of the top three candidates. The top four candidates all received between 16.9 percent and 18 percent of the votes each.

Turley said none of the candidates won or lost big because the votes were evenly distributed, but he thinks it is unlikely he will receive a seat, even with the votes that still needed to be counted.

“I am realistic to know that statistically the results will be the same,” he said.

Calderwood agreed. “The top four candidates could change, but it is not likely,” the mayor said. “Historically, the balance remains the same, but the close margin between our top four could alter the outcome.”

High voter turnout surprised city officials and turned the primary election results upside-down.

Only 31 percent of eligible voters participated in the August primary, but 47 percent turned out for the final election. Calderwood expected the final turnout to reach 50 percent as the city receives more postmarked ballots. He sees the turnout as the most important part of the elections.

“That percentage means our citizens care who represents them on Council, and also that we as a city will be listening to our citizens,” he said. “That is what makes democracy work.”

Turley also praised the high Providence citizen involvement. “Providence is a great place to live, and I think the election showed that by how many candidates ran and how close the final numbers were,” he said.

In the August primary, Checketts led the field and Sneddon came in fifth of seven candidates. But Sneddon was top vote-getter with 813 votes (18 percent) in the final election, and Checketts came in fifth.

Checketts admitted she was disappointed with the results, but she is already looking to the future.

“There are plenty of other great opportunities for service in our valley,” she said. “I am sure that I will find some other way to fill my time.”



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