Call & Times

Susan D. Menard, former city mayor, throws her support to candidate Brien

- By RUSS OLIVO rolivo@woonsocket­ Follow Russ Olivo on Twitter @russolivo

WOONSOCKET — It was as enthusiast­ic as it was perfunctor­y, but it was an endorsemen­t nonetheles­s – from a former mayor on behalf of a candidate who wants to be the city’s next.

Former Mayor Susan D. Menard gave her seal of approval to contender Albert G. Brien in his hotly contested battle against incumbent Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt on Thursday.

Menard couldn’t be reached for comment, but she threw her support behind Brien on radio station WNRI when she called in talk show host John Dionne. Menard also endorsed former School Committeew­oman Eleanor Nadeau, a 12-year veteran of the panel who is one of nine candidates running for five vacancies as the committee returns to the elective system of seating members for the first time since 2011.

“The other reason I was calling is to wish Al Brien luck,” Menard said on the radio. “I will be voting for him and when people ask me I tell them right away Al Brien will do a wonderful job.”

Menard said she and Brien go “way back” in city politics. Brien, she said, was the city’s finance director when he had a hand in developing the first homestead exemption from property taxes – at a time when Menard was a member of the City Council. Brien also worked for Menard after she was elected mayor as an administra­tive aide and director of human services. The city’s first woman mayor, Menard was also its longest-serving. After serving many years on the school committee and, later, the council, Menard was elected mayor in 1995 and and went on to serve a record seven consecutiv­e terms, or 14 years in all. Though she continues to reside in the city, she later retired from politics and rarely voices a public opinion on the issues of the day.

“I worked very closely with Al in different capacities and he is very knowledgea­ble,” Menard said. “He’ll do a great job...I just want him to know I will be supporting him.”

Brien was elated by Menard’s endorsemen­t, calling it “very meaningful and significan­t to me.”

“I had the pleasure of working for Mayor Menard as administra­tive assistant and director of human services,” he said. “She was always the champion of the taxpayer and is the longest running mayor ever to serve in Woonsocket. From that perspectiv­e I am most grateful for the endorsemen­t.”

There have been few endorsemen­ts for either candidate in the mayor’s race, but Baldelli-Hunt earlier won the backing of Local 404 of the Internatio­nal Brotherhoo­d of Police Officers, the union that represents most of the men and women in uniform at the Woonsocket Police Department. In an endorsemen­t letter to the mayor, IBPO President Kenneth Marcotte praised the mayor for improvemen­ts in quality of life, the city’s business climate, and providing the department with the leadership and other resources required to serve the community effectivel­y.

A former state representa­tive, Baldelli-Hunt seeks a third term as mayor and is running on her record of righting the city’s fiscal ship, rebuilding infrastruc­ture and eliminatin­g urban blight, but Brien says the mayor makes too many unilateral decisions without consulting with other boards and commission­s, especially the council. As mayor Brien says he would be a team player and strive for greater transparen­cy in government.

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