NORTH SMITHFIELD – With the final votes counted by the Board of Elections, it looks like candidates Paul Zwolenski and Douglas Osier will compete for the title of North Smithfield Town Administrator in the general election this November.
The outcome was determined by just 23 votes.
Paul Jones, who was eliminated in a tight three-man primary held Tuesday, Sept. 8, thanked his supporters, announcing that he does not intend to request a recount.
“This has been the strangest campaign season of anyone’s lifetime, and for the people who made the effort to vote for me in this election, thank you,” Jones said. “I know this isn’t the outcome we wanted, but I can hold my head high knowing that we have started conversations about smart ways to move the town forward. North Smithfield needs to address quality of life issues for our seniors; we need to confront the realities of our aging infrastructure, and we need to do a better job of attracting and retaining business to our town.”
Jones, who owns the 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.
On Friday, Jones endorsed his opponent Paul Zwolenski, the leader from the Tuesday primary, who had secured 540 votes according to the unofficial tally.
“We need a leader. We need someone with experience, and thoughtfulness, and integrity,” Jones said. “Those are qualities I see in Paul Zwolenski.”
Zwolenski, a former town planner who served on the council since 2004, will face off against first-term Councilor Douglas Osier in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
“It was a pleasure to run against such a gentleman,” Zwolenski said of Jones. “I’m elated he is going to throw his support behind me.”
Citing his 16 years on the Town Council, working with budgets and profit and loss statements, Zwolenski said he’s ready to go to work for the town.
“The position of town administrator is not one for on the job training,” he told NRI NOW. “I’m prepared to do this. I’m at the point in my life where I can dedicate 100 percent of my life to the town.”
Osier, the manager of business intelligence for a nonprofit healthcare provider, came out of the primary race with 384 votes, to Jones’ 361.
“I think it was a good race between the three of us,” Osier told NRI NOW.
Osier said was feeling optimistic and positive about the upcoming General Election following the news Friday morning.
“I thank everyone who showed up and supported me,” he said.
For the candidates, it’s been a long and stressful wait for results, which in a typical election cycle would have been clear the same day that voters cast their ballots. The delayed outcome was the result of a large influx of mail ballots, as voters looked to avoid lines at polling spots amid COVID-19.
Osier and Jones watched closely Thursday as results were announced, each questioning one set of figures before the completed tally was released. At one point, the figures showed Jones in the lead.
Zwolenski said he understood the delay, and thanked Board of Elections officials for their work.
“I’m sure it wasn’t easy for them,” Zwolenski said. “Now it’s on to November 3.”
“I think anyone would recognize it’s been a stressful 24 hours,” said Osier.
The campaign continues for the first-term councilor, the youngest of the three to compete in the primary, and Zwolenski, his 67-year-old opponent. Current Administrator Gary Ezovski announced earlier this year that he would not be seeking another term.
“I think it’s going to be a good race between Paul Zwolenski and I,” Osier said.