WOONSOCKET â€“ The Board of Canvassers certified Councilman Marc A. Dubois as a candidate for reelection Wednesday, triggering a primary for 15 candidates in all.
The move ended a few hours of early suspense as the campaign season officially began, because all the other candidates were certified the night before. Dubois showed up at City Hall 25 minutes before the deadline Tuesday afternoon â€“ too late for the canvassing staff to validate the signatures on his nomination papers.
Reached by phone, Dubois said he left City Hall Tuesday under the impression that his signatures would have been validated that night. He was expecting someone to call him to let him know whether heâ€™d obtained enough signatures to get on the ballot, but the call never came.
â€śI was in suspense also,â€ť said Dubois. â€śI kept waiting and waiting and waiting. But I got the call this morning. Iâ€™m glad. It was a big relief.â€ť
Candidates must submit nomination papers signed by no fewer than 100 properly registered voters to get on the ballot. Dubois had 116.
A former policeman and member of the School Committee who now works as a hospital liaison for Northern Rhode Island Community Services, Dubois is seeking his second term on the council.
Chances are, Dubois wasnâ€™t the only candidate hanging on news of the results. Because Dubois made it on the ballot, all the candidates for City Council must now square off in a primary on Oct. 8.
Estelle Corriveau, manager of the board of canvassers, says the whole point of the primary will be eliminate just one candidate. The City Charter allows no more than 14 candidates to compete for a seat on the council in the general election, or two per opening on the seven-member panel.
All of the incumbents are running for re-election. In addition to Dubois, they are Christopher A. Beauchamp, Albert G. Brien, Daniel A. Gendron, Roger G. Jalette Sr., Robert R. Moreau and John F. Ward. The challengers are Jeffrey P. Belknap, Eric Cartier, Kathryn M. Dumais, Richard J. Fagnant, Garrett S. Mancieri, Anita Ann McGuire-Forcier, Melissa A. Murray and Christopher M. Roberts.
In addition, four candidates have been certified to run for mayor, including incumbent Mayor Leo T. Fontaine, who is seeking his third term. State Rep. Lisa Baldelli-Hunt (D-Dist. 49), David A. Fischer and Michael E. Moniz are also in contention for the spot.
Like that of the council, the field of mayoral candidates must be pared down during the primary on Oct. 8. Only the two top vote-getters in the runoff will move onto the general election Nov. 5.
In the first event of its kind this election cycle, all of the contestants have been invited to appear in a â€śMeet the Candidatesâ€ť forum, 7 p.m. Tuesday at Chanâ€™s Fine Oriental Dining, 267 Main St. The event is free and open to the public.
Because of time constraints, each of the council incumbents will be asked just one question â€“ the same question â€“ during the forum. Challengers will be asked another, different question. On the mayoral side, each candidates will take two turns asking questions of their opponents.
Lorraine Corey of MyWoonsocket.com, who is co-sponsoring the event with Roger Bouchard of radio station WNRI, said Moniz and Ward would be unable to participate due to prior commitments. Jeffrey Gamache, a reporter and talk show host for the radio station, will serve as the moderator.
The Call, meanwhile, is in the process of firming up arrangements for a mayoral debate which is expected to take place during the first week of October.
Follow Russ Olivo on Twitter @russolivo