After declaring to run for office a few weeks ago, Representative Robert Flaherty, who serves District 23, has decided not to run.
That leaves two people vying for the seat: John Falkowski, who is running as a Republican, and attorney K. Joseph Shekarchi.
“I had conversations with my wife and children and I’ve been there for 22 years, so I think it’s time to move on,” Flaherty said during a brief phone interview yesterday afternoon. “I happen to know K. Joseph Shekarchi and he is an excellent lawyer and individual. He’s very well qualified and has new ideas. I wish him well and support him.”
Flaherty said he is most proud of the fact that people in his district “honored” him with an election 11 consecutive times.
“I’m grateful for the support and I hope they think I have served them well,” he said.
In that period, Flaherty said he made it his priority to ensure that Warwick received its fair share of state tax revenues and school aid. Further, he said, public works and public safety were top concerns of his as well.
For about 10 years, Flaherty served as chairman of the Rhode Island Lottery Commission. During that time, the commission had raised a great deal of revenue, he said, and was the third highest source of revenue for the entire state budget.
“I’m proud of my work on the commission,” he said.
Also, he served as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
“There were a host of laws that were passed to protect children and elderly people when I was chairman,” he said.
After finishing his current term, Flaherty said he is looking forward to spending more time with his wife of more than 25 years, Claire, and their four children, as well as focusing on his business, a local law firm. Yet, he said politics would always remain in his heart.
“I’m sure I’ll be interested in the political process for a long time,” he said. “But someone else wants to take the lead and I think someone like K. Joseph Shekarchi, a very smart, capable individual and longtime resident of the city, should step in. It’s the perfect time for me to go. I wouldn’t step out if someone was coming in to do the job without the qualifications, but I’m confident that he does.”
Shekarchi has been active in recent local politics, as he served as the campaign manager for Rhode Island General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, was the attorney for the Rhode Island Airport Corporation through negotiations with the city of Warwick, as well as the legal representative for Balise Auto Sales, a company that’s made an $8 million investment in the city with their current expansion efforts.
Falkowski, who has been a resident of District 23 for more than 30 years and owns and serves as president of FALCON Pest Services, LLC, as well as BLOCK ISLAND Pest Services, has said the main reason he decided to declare was his disgust for Flaherty’s voting record.