PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — John Goncalves has won the Democratic primary for the City Council seat in Providence’s Ward 1, all but guaranteeing he’ll become the councilperson because there’s no one else running in the general election. 

Goncalves, a 4th-grade teacher at the Wheeler School, won 708 votes compared to 286 for Nick Cicchitelli and 194 for Anthony Santurri, according to the unofficial results.

The influential seat that encompasses part of Providence’s East Side and downtown neighborhoods became vacant earlier this year when Councilman Seth Yurdin stepped down. 

“This campaign from the very beginning had the slogan of “community first,” Goncalves said in a statement after the results came in. “This is the spirit that is needed to do the next step of enacting real change in Providence. I am looking forward to bringing our ‘community first’ campaign to City Hall.”

The 28-year-old Goncalves, who lives in Fox Point, came onto the scene last year when he advocated against the proposed two-tiered tax system that would have taxed higher-valued homes differently that lower-valued ones. The plan did not pass, but Goncalves is now a civilian member of a special commission that is studying the issue and will issue recommendations for a progressive tax structure in the coming months.

All three of the candidates opposed the proposed Fane Tower in the ward, and agreed broadly on a variety of progressive issues. Santurri — the only candidate in the race who lives in the downtown neighborhood of the ward — out-fundraised the other two candidates, but failed to get as many downtown voters to the polls compared to Fox Point.

Goncalves raised the least amount of money, according to the most recent campaign finance reports.

About 13% of the roughly 9,000 voters eligible to vote in the special election primary turned out at the polls.

The general election is on April 7.

Steph Machado ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter covering Providence, politics and more for 12 News. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.