“If the people of this city will have me, I want to be their mayor for the next two years,” Mayor Scott Avedisian, 47, said Thursday evening to a crowd of nearly 200 people at his campaign fundraiser, held at Iron Works Tavern at 697 Jefferson Boulevard.
His announcement was highly anticipated by the people of Warwick, as many were wondering whether he would again run for mayor or seek another office. If he wins, it will be his eighth term.
Avedisian, a Republican who has served as mayor for the last 12 years – he was first elected in February 2000 in a special election – plans to “continue to best serve the people of this city.” One of his top priorities includes acquiring the remaining acres that formerly were Rocky Point.
“I’m determined that by the end of this year, all 122 acres of Rocky Point are going to be in our [possession],” he said at the event.
Further, he said he is committed to the development of the Warwick Station District, an area across from the airport terminal, as well as the train station, that was rezoned in order to promote the development of businesses.
He said he decided to hold his fundraiser at Iron Works because it’s the epicenter of the redevelopment district.
“And that’s why we’re here,” Avedisian told the crowd. “Ten years ago, people told us, ‘Don’t even bother.’ Well, right now we have a train station that is on a former chemical plant site. It’s all been cleaned up and put back to use and that’s what it’s all about.”
Looking back, he noted a few of his accomplishments in a video that was shown to the crowd. Among those are the 11 budget surpluses the city has seen since he was elected, the fact that Warwick has the highest bond rating of any city in the state of Rhode Island, the preservation of Rocky Point and Morris Farm, the creation of the Gorton Pond fishing pier, his efforts to help bring the Warwick Mall back to life after the historic floods and his efforts to mediate a 10-year dispute concerning airport expansion.
For Avedisian, these accomplishments were met due to the teamwork of elected officials in Warwick, no matter their political affiliation.
“It’s really important to talk about how there is no Democratic way to pick up the trash, there is no Independent way to pick up the trash and there is no Republican way to pick up the trash,” he said. “But, come hell or high water, by the end of the day we better have picked up the trash and that’s what this city is all about. It’s putting people together and making things work so we can not only look back … but project forward.”
Ward 1 Councilman Steven Colantuono, who attended the event with his wife, Maya, agreed. He offered a few kind words to the mayor.
“When Scott asked me to run a few years back, I was a little timid about it,” he said. “But, as things got going and as we made our way through it, I found out it was the team to be on. We support each other and work together to reach common goals.”
Cranston Mayor Allan Fung also spoke highly of Avedisian.
“We’re all here in the positions we’re in and owe a great debt of gratitude to this gentleman,” Fung said. “He’s done so much to help develop the great city of Warwick. More importantly, he’s taken the time to help develop people. That’s a testament to the type of person Scott is.”
Aside from Colantuono and Fung, other notable guests included Governor Lincoln Chafee, Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena, Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien, plus Warwick Council President Bruce Place, Ward 3 Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson and Ward 8 Councilman Ray Gallucci.
While none of them addressed the gathering, Mark Russell, a close friend of Avedisian’s who has helped him with previous campaigns, severed as master of ceremonies for the evening and sang praises of the mayor.
“It’s often been said, ‘It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game,’” said Russell. “I think a better way to put it is, ‘Whether you win or lose will depend on how you play the game.’ Life is a game, politics is a game, and how you do depends on how you play. Scott’s been successful and there’s a reason: he’s played the game with integrity, honesty, determination and fairness for 22 years. That’s why he is where he is today and that’s why the city of Warwick is where it is today.”
So far, no other Republican or Democratic candidate has announced for mayor. Ward 4 Councilman Joseph Solomon, who it was thought would run, said last week that running for higher office requires significant personal sacrifices. “I’m leaning toward where I am,” he said.