It has been 11 days since Lisa Baldelli-Hunt called it quits as mayor of Woonsocket, citing health issues while conveniently ignoring that she was caught in a sketchy land deal by Channel 12.
The resignation led to Christopher Beauchamp earning the promotion from City Council president to mayor, and the council held a special meeting last week to elect John Ward as its new council president.
The council will get back to normal business at its regular meeting tonight, but Ward has made it clear that he wants to address some of the outstanding issues the city is facing related to the Baldelli-Hunt era and outlining his vision for the council in the months ahead.
In an email over the weekend, Ward told me that he plans to call for a Charter Review Commission to be created, something Baldelli-Hunt didn’t do even though it’s required every 10 years.
Charter reviews can be very in the weeds, but in this case, Ward says it would be quite timely.
He said he wants to see to see a vacancy in the mayor’s office filled through a special election rather than the current system that requires the council president to finish the rest of the term when a mayor steps down.
”The current burden on a council president who may otherwise have a successful career to take on the role of mayor is absurd,” Ward said.
Any charter changes must be approved by voters, so they wouldn’t appear on the ballot until the November 2024 election.
Ward said he also wants the mayor’s office to be required to have prepared departmental policies and procedures that are approved by the council, and he wants the City Council to have more oversight over city purchases and no-bid contracts.
2024 is already shaping up to be a busy year in Woonsocket. There will be a special council election to replace Beauchamp in March, and then the city is likely to have a competitive mayoral race for the first time in a while.
The council meets at 7 p.m. You can watch on YouTube.
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