When the next Rhode Island legislative session begins, it will be without retiring state Rep. Dennis Algiere for the first time since 1990. It will also mark one less Republican senator in the State House after Democrat Victoria Gu won her second three-way race in two months to earn Algiere's old seat. 

Gu, a Charlestown resident, received nearly 48% of all votes en route to a decisive victory over Republican Westin Place and unaffiliated candidate Caswell Cooke Jr. on Tuesday. Gu received 5,808 votes, while Place received 3,494 and Cooke 3,285.

"At this point, I am just really grateful to all the residents that are putting their confidence in me to serve the district," Gu said Tuesday night. "I will strive to provide the best representation I can for all voters, and I am ready to get to work on the many issues that I've discussed over the course of my campaign." 

An announcement in May that Algiere would not seek reelection, a surprise to some after he first earned election in 1990 and then spent 32 consecutive years in office, led to a wide interest across the region. Six candidates initially declared intent to run for the seat.

Gu emerged as the winner of a three-way race in the Democratic primary in September, besting Sharon Ahern and Michael Niemeyer and receiving more than 65% of the votes. Unaffiliated candidate Robert deVillers initially declared but was later disqualified and was not included on November’s ballot.

Although new to elected politics, Gu has served recently as chairwoman of the Charlestown Resiliency Commission. She said she plans to use that experience to aid in addressing the escalating cost of homeownership and protect public shoreline access.

“This is not the time for politics as usual; it’s time to elect a fresh voice that will prioritize our community’s interests over developers’ interests and make sure that people with roots here can afford to stay here,” she said in an email.

Gu said it would also be important to address ongoing environmental issues, including transitioning the state to clean energy sources and securing shoreline access rights for the public. 

Born in Illinois, Gu moved to South Kingstown at the age of 2. She was raised by her parents, who emigrated from China, and went on to earn a degree in economics from Harvard. She works as a senior software engineer for LunaYou, a maternal well-being platform that partners with Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island and aspires to provide services to women in multiple states.

When Gu began her transition to politics, she attended the National Democratic Training Committee’s Staff Academy and, after graduating, she had worked on a local campaign in California before running for office herself. 

Both Place and Cooke said in recent interviews that they planned to remain active in the community and have not considered not ruled out future runs for office. Cooke served on the Westerly Town Council during the previous term.  

"Once things are settled, I will reevaluate and determine what I want to do next," Place said in a recent interview. 

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