State board rules Jennings can stay in District 47 race

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BURRILLVILLE – A Pascoag man who made an error on the form declaring his candidacy for District 47 will still be allowed to run for the seat, following a decision this week by the state Board of Elections.

Russell Jennings of 330 Eagle Peak Road will run as a Democrat, challenging eight-year State Rep. Cale Keable.

The decision was made during an emergency meeting of the board Tuesday night.

According to reports, Jennings sent his declaration by mail, and accidentally registering as a candidate for District 43 in Johnston because of a typing error. He later received a phone call from Town Hall noting the mistake and was told to email a corrected declaration to the town clerk.

But Burrillville’s Board of Canvassers voted on June 29 to reject Jennings’ declaration.

He appealed the decision, and Town Clerk Louise Phaneuf was among those called to Providence Tuesday night to sort out the issue. Attorney Bill Lynch argued against Jennings’ case representing the Rhode Island Democratic Party.

“I see this board as a judicial body, and you’re not able to pick and choose who the law applies to,” said Lynch.

Representing himself, Jennings said, “I was away on business during the filing period. Had I been able to come in person the town clerk would have made me aware of the error immediately.”

The BOE’s decision was made during an emergency meeting on Tuesday, July 3 so that Jennings was not further disadvantaged as a candidate.

“Every day you do not make a decision – that person would have fewer days than others that are running for the same office,” explained Raymond Marcaccio, legal counsel for the BOE.

The vote to accept Jennings’ declaration was unanimous.

Jennings told UPRISE RI that is running as a Progressive and that he will be at the Burrillville Farmer’s Market on Thursday and Saturday if residents would like to meet him and hear more about his decision to run.

Jennings is one of three Burrillville men running for the seat. Councilor David Place has also declared his intent to run for the District 47 spot, representing Burrillville and Glocester. Place will run as a Republican.