It was a close race for the seat of Ward 1 councilperson, but Councilman Steven Colantuono came out on top, winning the position over opponent Sharon Ahearn by 19 votes.
The night of the election, Ahearn, a Democrat, trailed the Republican councilman by 29 votes at about 10 p.m., with 240 uncounted mail-in ballots. By Friday around 4:30 p.m., the Board of Elections reported Colantuono the champion, earning 50.1 percent of the vote to Ahearn’s 49.7 percent.
In a message sent to a Warwick Beacon reporter Thursday, Ahearn said she planned to request a recount through the Board of Elections, which she said she did the next day.
Colantuono said while he hopes he is the winner, he thinks it’s wise of her.
“From everything I’ve been told, it’s probably not going to really change anything, but she’s smart to do what she’s doing,” he said during a brief phone interview yesterday morning. “It was a difficult race and I’m thankful for all the support. If it holds the way that it is, I look forward to another two years on the council.”
For now, Colantuono didn’t want to go into any more detail about his win in case the recount proves Ahearn victorious. However, he said he is willing to discuss his emotions with the Beacon after the final results are tallied.
If his win sticks, he will be the sole Republican on the council, as he has been the last two years.
Colantuono was first elected in 2008, beating out then Ward 1 Councilman Bob Cushman, also a former School Committee member. Colantuono took office in 2009, the same year Cushman said Colantuono voted to award himself lifetime health care.
As a result of that vote, among other things, Cushman, along with about a dozen other Ward 1 residents, created and distributed three flyers throughout the ward before the election. The first of the flyers accused Colantuono of seeking a third term only to be eligible for lifetime health care and also alleged that during this year’s budget hearing, Colantuono voted against giving the school department an additional $400,000.
The second flyer noted that Colantuono introduced and voted for legislation that lowered the car tax exemption from $6,000 to $500, while the third flyer simply read, “Nothing: That's exactly what Councilman Colantuono did to stop mandatory sewer connection in Gov. Francis Farms Phase II.”
During a phone interview last week, Cushman said he feels the race between Colantuono and Ahearn was neck-and-neck because of the flyers. He also said he thinks Ahearn would have won without a problem had she not submitted a letter to the editor that was published in the Oct. 2 edition of the Warwick Beacon in which she disavowed any affiliation with the flyers.