June Speakman sweeps primary with 73 percent of votes

Kayla Ebner, Editor-in-Chief

June Speakman secured the Democratic nominee slot in the primary for State Representative of District 68 (Bristol/Warren) with 73 percent of the votes, beating opponent Richard Ruggiero.

Speakman, a Warren resident, earned 652 votes in the special election on Tuesday, Feb. 5, trouncing Ruggiero’s 238 votes. In Warren, Speakman obtained 215 votes where Ruggiero got 53, and in Bristol she earned 437 votes to Ruggiero’s 185.

At 195 Franklin Street in Bristol, cheers filled the room and glasses clinked in celebration.

“This was an astonishing result,” Speakman said at the Election Day headquarters in Bristol. “I commit to you that we, I, will work really really hard in our next phase of this campaign.”

This special election came after 25-year-old Laufton Ascencao stepped down from the position after he admitted to lying about a brochure that was never sent out. This mailer was to be sent out on behalf of a group of Warren Town Council candidates, including Speakman, but was never mailed.

The next phase Speakman spoke of is the general election for District 68, which takes place on March 5. In this race, she will face three candidates: Libertarian William Hunt Jr., Independent James McCanna III and Independent Rep. Kenneth Marshall.

Democrat Susan Donovan, state representative for District 69 (Bristol), expressed her excitement at the chance for more female representation.

“There’s only 35 percent women in the General Assembly and every time we can add one more woman it’s a good thing,” said Donovan. “When we add more women, we change the dynamics there and the conversations are different, the collaboration is different. We just have to keep adding not only progressive voices, but women’s voices.”

Speakman has been teaching at RWU for 23 years and has held positions such as department chair, Faculty Senate president and president of the RWU Faculty Association (NEARI). She was elected to the Barrington Town Council four times and served for 14 years. Speakman is also on the Executive Committee of the Warren Democratic Town Committee and the Executive Committee of the R.I. Democratic Women’s Caucus.

Speakman said her first commitment is to the students of RWU and expressed her gratitude toward those students who helped volunteer on her campaign.

“I will be spending every day canvassing in neighborhoods, reintroducing myself to the general election voters,” said Speakman. “I’ll be working hard on weekends with my wonderful volunteers to get my message out to the voters.”