Warwick resident and Republican John Falkowski is planning to run against Representative Robert Flaherty (D-Warwick) for District 23 and will be making a formal announcement tonight at 5:30 at Elizabeth of Portofino’s at 897 Post Rd.
He said one of the major reasons that influenced him to run is Flaherty’s voting record, or lack there of.
“He’s been there for 22 years and his voting record is terrible,” said Falkowski.
According to rhodeislandvote.org, from Jan. 1, 2008 to Feb. 7 of this year, Flaherty missed 1,749 votes out of 3,373, which is 51.9 percent of the votes. From Jan. 1, 2011 to the end of 2011, he missed 370 votes out of 826. That accounts for 44.8 percent.
Key policies Flaherty failed to vote on, Falkowski said, include revising legislative districts, amending the pension system, voter identification requirements and education funding amendments.
“These are all things that impact Rhode Islanders and he wasn’t there,” said Falkowski. “How can he be our Representative if he’s missing over 52 percent of the vote during the last four years? That really made me want to be his replacement. His voting record is terrible and he’s not doing the job of the people.”
Falkowski, who has been a resident in District 23 for more than 30 years, said he has become frustrated with the way things have been going in Rhode Island. If elected, he hopes to improve ongoing pension issues and implement more reasonable taxes.
“A lot of times the state workers are maligned because they are state workers and I think that’s unfair, but I also think there has to be a balance and there are going to have to be some concessions on everybody’s part,” he said. “I understand that retirees have contractual agreements, but they are not sustainable and we have to come up with a way that’s equitable for everyone involved so no one is taking the greater hit.”
Falkowski is a business owner and is the president of FALCON Pest Services, LLC, as well as BLOCK ISLAND Pest Services. He said the $500 corporate tax business owners must pay each year “irks” him. He feels politicians need to make it easier for people in Rhode Island to start, run and grow businesses.
“The regulations are preventing that from happening,” said Falkowski, who has been in business for himself for nearly six years but has worked in the field more than 28 years. “The hoops that you have to jump through to start a business and own a business are creating all types of problems and it’s scaring people out of the state and preventing people from moving into the state to start businesses. That’s just not acceptable.”
He said he has been thinking about running for more than four years and credits Rep. Doreen Costa (R-North Kingstown, Exeter) as his inspiration.
“She is a person who got fed up with what was going on and decided to make a stand and do something about it,” he said. “She’s motivated a lot of people to do the same. I had a meeting with her and expressed my interest and at the end of the meeting I decided I was going to make a run.”
Falkowski was born in Newark, N.J. and moved to Rhode Island when he was in fifth grade, as his father worked for what was is now known as U.S. Air and was transferred to Warwick.
He is a 1979 graduate of Bishop Hendricken and studied Business Management at the University of Rhode Island. He and his wife, Kelly Conroy Falkowski, have been married for 28 years and have two children, John Falkowski II, 26, and Ashley Falkowski, 24, as well as one granddaughter, 6-month-old Zayleigh Rose Falkowski.
In his spare time, he can often be found on the golf course or in the kitchen cooking. His specialties are homemade tomato sauce, stocks for bolognaise and crème brulee.
“My wife really likes it because she doesn’t have to worry about cooking,” Falkowski said. “It’s a good synergy because I do the cooking and she does the cleanup.”
He enjoys cooking so much that he and Kelly incorporated the theme into their 25th wedding anniversary celebration, which was held three years ago at Portofino’s. At the time, the restaurant had just been renovated and they renewed their vows on the new patio. In fact, it was the first event held outside.
As gifts to their guests, they decided to create a cookbook and incorporated their loved ones into it, citing them in their favorite recipes.
“To this day, we still get comments about what a great gift it was,” Falkowski said.
Moreover, he loves baseball and football. But, his teams aren’t the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots.
“I’m a Yankee fan and a Giant fan,” he said. “My friends had a Super Bowl party and I suggested we take photos of the Pats fans and the Giants fans. I was the only one with Giants gear, but I had the last laugh at the end of the game.”
For now, he’s focused on an entirely different competition: the election. He said he’s looking forward to the challenge.
“I don’t feel that I’m just representing the people of District 23; I’m working for all the people of Rhode Island,” Falkowski said. “I’ve been told I have a formidable opponent; I just hope he’s prepared because I’m going to give everything I have to this campaign to win.”
Flaherty was contacted but did not respond in time for press.
In a statement, Warwick Republican Chair Danny Hall called Falkowski “the perfect candidate for District 23.” Hall went on to say that Falkowski is motivated, confident and believes in the value of public service.
“The fact that Representative Flaherty has missed more than half his votes to me is unacceptable and a disservice to his constituents,” said Hall. “It’s time for a change in District 23 and John will do a tremendous job as our next Representative."
Falkowski is the past commander for the Sons of the American Legion Rhode Island Detachment; the past commander for the Sons of the American Legion William Shields Post 43; a past member of the Warwick Police Reserves; the past vice president of the Northeastern University Parents Advisory; a member of the National Pest Management Association; member of the New England pest Management Association; and member of the Warwick Chamber of Commerce.