Common themes among all 16 candidates vying for council are helping constituents have a better quality of life, economic development, education, keeping taxes at a minimum, public safety and ensuring that T.F. Green Airport lives up to its end of the bargain before extending the main runway.
Three council races are already decided as candidates in Wards 2, 3 and 9 have no opponents.
In Ward 2, Thomas Chadronet will succeed Bruce Place, who is currently City Council President and is not seeking re-election.
This is Chadronet’s second bid for a council seat, as he ran for council in 1996 in a primary against John Lyons, who beat him by 110 votes. He also ran for state representative two years ago.
As for Ward 1, incumbent Steven Colantuono, a local attorney who has served on the council as a Republican just shy of four years, is facing Democrat Sharon Ahearn, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. This is Ahearn’s first bid for the seat.
Incumbent Ward 3 Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson, a Democrat, is running unopposed after beating Republican Paul Machado by a landslide in the September primary. She was first elected in 2010. In addition to her council responsibilities, she is a career consultant, and is a retired U.S. Navy Officer.
Ward 4 Councilman and Democratic candidate Joseph Solomon, a local accountant, attorney and businessman, is up against Republican Michael Penta, a self-employed contractor.
Solomon has served on the council from 2002 and was council president during a portion of that time. This marks Penta’s first run.
Candidates in Ward 5 are Democrat Ed Ladouceur and Republican Danny Hall. Neither have held political office.
Ladouceur, owner and president of StormTite Home Improvement Co., has run for state representative in the past, while Hall, a correctional officer at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, is attempting his second bid for the seat, as he ran last term. He lost to the current seat holder, John DelGiudice, who is not seeking a fifth term.
In Ward 6, Councilwoman and Democratic candidate Donna Travis, a senior data entry clerk at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal and a part-time employee at the Don Rodrigues Karate Academy, is looking to land her 10th term. She served from 1992 to 2000, and again from 2002 to the present.
Her opponent, Republican Catharine Leach, is an office manager for a Department of Homeland Security Contractor in Quonset. This is her first run for elective office.
Unlike the other races, there are three candidates in Ward 7. They are incumbent Councilman and Democratic candidate
Charles “C. J.” Donovan, a senior house policy and oversight specialist for Coastal Resource Management Council, and independent candidates William Russo, a retired Warwick police officer, and former Ward 7 Councilman Al Gemma, who operates Gemma’s Auto Body of Warwick. Russo and Gemma are both military veterans, with Russo serving in the U.S. Air Force and Gemma serving in the U.S. Army.
Donovan has been on the council since 2000. Russo, who has never held political office, is making a third attempt for the position.
Gemma held the Ward 7 seat from 1992 to 1998, and also served as a Rhode Island State Constitutional Convention Delegate for District 35 and Rhode Island State Representative for District 20 in the past.
After eight years on the council, Ward 8 Democratic Councilman Ray Gallucci is not seeking re-election, but his brother, Joseph E. Gallucci, a former Ward 8 councilman, is. Joseph, also a Democrat, recently retired as registrar for Warwick, and is vying for the seat in opposition to Republican Lyn Jennings, the owner of L Skincare & Nails.
Joseph, an Army National Guard veteran, served as Ward 8 councilman from 1977 to 1984, and again from 1990 to 1994, and was also council president from 1977 to 1984. Jennings has never held elective office before. This is her first try for the seat.
As is the case in Wards 2 and 3, Ward 9 Councilman Steven Merolla, a Democrat, is running unopposed. Merolla was elected in 1998. He is a law partner at Merolla & Accetturo.
Since Council President Bruce Place is not seeking re-election, the slot for council presidency is up for grabs. In a questionnaire, most candidates were mum about their thoughts as to who they feel would best be suited for the position.
Hall and Penta said they view Colantuono as an ideal choice, but Colantuono said he has “given very little thought” to the issue and awaits the outcome of the election.
Leach, Russo and Vella-Wilkinson all noted that they are not interested in being the next council president, with Vella-Wilkinson saying, “I enjoy debating issues and participating in the discussions too much to facilitate the meeting.”
However, Donovan is considering running for council president if re-elected.
“I have the experience, temperament and ability to work with all council members,” he said.