NORTH SMITHFIELD – With the votes recorded on some 700 ballots still unknown, longtime Town Councilor Paul Zwolenski appeared somewhat solidly on track to compete for the role of town administrator in the November general election.
Town Councilor Douglas Osier was ahead of School Committee member Paul Jones by a small margin, with all three precincts reporting results to the Board of Elections Tuesday night.
But Town Clerk Lillian Silva Scott told NRI NOW this week that as of Friday, North Smithfield voters cast 525 mail ballots in the town administrator race, and another 157 residents showed up at Town Hall for early voting.
Early voting continued Tuesday at the Town Hall building on Green Street, a new option offered to voters in 2020 as a means to avoid crowds amid COVID-19.
And the early results posted on the state Board of Elections website only included the in-person votes, with ballots on track to more than double as the results were released this week. According to Scott, early results were expected on Wednesday, with mail ballots to follow.
Once all 2020 ballots are counted, the turnout could put the town on track to match the last time there was a three-way contest for the role in 2010, when the late Ernest Alter and Shawn Kane ran against Paulette Hamilton, and 1,387 North Smithfield voters weighed in.
The administrator race was the sole decision for North Smithfield voters in the primary on Tuesday, Sept. 8. Current Administrator Gary Ezovski announced earlier this year that he would not seek a third term.
The results showed Zwolenski with a solid lead with 292 votes – or 44.9 percent – while Osier had 191, and Jones, 167.
A 67-year-old who has served on the council since 2004, Zwolenski watched with a small group of friends and family at Gator’s Pub as results came in from the town’s three polling places. An assistant professor at Johnson and Wales University College of Business, he previously served as town planner.
But the celebration was somewhat tempered Tuesday night with an outcome that remained unclear.
According to reports this week, officials from the Board of Elections have stated that mail ballot results would not be released until all of the ballots placed in drop boxes were delivered to the Board of Elections on Wednesday at noon.
Statewide, as of 1 p.m. on Tuesday, 16,749 in-person votes had been cast, and 32,103 mail ballots had been returned to the Board of Elections.
Osier, who is currently serving his first term on the council, is manager of business intelligence for a nonprofit healthcare provider.
Jones, the owner of Providence-based The Care Concierge of New England, was first appointed to the School Committee in 2016, and secured an elected seat in the 2018 elections.
Once all votes are counted, the top two candidates will move on to the General Election scheduled for Tuesday, November 3.
Thanks to changes passed in 2018 slated to take effect this year, the victor will served in the administrator’s office for four years rather than two.
See an update on this ongoing news story here.