From a local perspective, this looks to be a far more active campaign year than forecast only two weeks ago. That should be good for the city, as those looking to unseat incumbents will bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the way the city operates.
Four of the city’s nine council members will go unchallenged, either for their party’s nomination or in the election to follow. Without contests are: Joseph Solomon, D-Ward 4; Edgar Ladouceur, D-Ward 5; Donna Travis, D-Ward 6 and Steve Merolla, D-Ward 9.
While that may seem to be a rather extensive list, as of last month it looked like there would be only one contest, and that was for the Ward 1 seat held by Steven Colantuno. A number of potential candidates – some who are known because of their local involvement and some newcomers – took out declaration papers as of last Wednesday’s deadline.
Surprisingly, in addition to Colantuno, Democrats Donald Fife and Patrick Maloney will face off in a primary, if they file their papers with the required number of qualified signatures. In Ward 3, where Democrat Camille Vella-Wilkinson is seeking reelection, there’s the potential for a three-way Republican primary between John Falkowski, Henry Williams Jr. and Michael Izzo. Also running in the ward is Harold Ouimette, who filed as an independent.
Headlining the local surprises is the race for mayor.
It was imagined this year’s lineup would be a repeat of 2012, only this year John “Jack” Kirby would run as a Democrat rather than an independent.
There is an independent in the race – Kevin Eisemann, who ran 20 years ago when Lincoln Chafee was the incumbent. There are also two Democrats vying for the nomination – Kirby, who will make this his fourth run, and Carel Callahan Bainum. And then, to top off the list, Stacia Petri is looking for the Republican nomination, meaning Avedisian faces a primary this year.
Petri appears not to be wasting any time. On the night of filing her declaration, she was holding a fundraising party at her home. Yesterday, she issued the first press release of her campaign and it was announced that Roy Dempsey, who has been active in questioning the activities of the Warwick Sewer Authority, is serving as her campaign manager.
The Sept. 9 primary is still a long way off and there’s no guarantee that all those who took out declaration papers will follow through. Nonetheless, with hot contests for governor, lieutenant governor and other state seats, and now seemingly hotly contested bids for mayor and some council seats, this has the prospect of a lively summer. Stay tuned.