With elections quickly approaching, current council members and those aspiring to sit on the council are planning fundraisers and walking their wards.
Ward 1 Councilman Steven Colantuono has been knocking on doors this summer and is looking forward to a family-friendly event at his home at 251 Country Club Drive Sept. 7 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. He said everyone is welcome.
“People can come over anytime they want,” Colantuono said, a Republican who has been endorsed by Council 94. “We will have hot dogs and hamburgers and that kind of stuff.”
If re-elected, he said he will focus on spending issues and ensure that the budget is followed. He also is interested in taking care of traffic safety and public safety concerns, as well as potentially creating places for hiking and walking by the cove area in his ward.
“I’ve also heard of several concerns about parks and recreation facilities and I’m looking to address those,” he said. “Mostly, I want to try to continue to focus on the local issues and constituent concerns whenever and wherever I can. That’s my main focus.”
His opponent, Democrat Sharon Ahearn, was bitten by a dog a few weeks ago while visiting homes in her ward. As a result, she was hospitalized for a week because the wounds became infected. She was released from the hospital Aug. 1 and said she’s eager to get back out there to meet more constituents.
In Ward 2, Council President Bruce Place is not seeking re-election, leaving the seat open to Democrat Tom Chadronet, as Paul Cannistra and Lorraine Miller decided not to run. Chadronet is currently the treasurer for the Democratic City Committee and often attends council meetings.
For Ward 3, Council 94 has endorsed Ward 3 Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson. It’s the first endorsement she’s received so far. She is running as a Democrat against Paul Machado, also a Democrat.
Ward 4 Councilman Joseph Solomon, a Democrat, has been enjoying himself as he walks the ward.
“I’ve just been trying to get out there to meet with as many constituents as possible to let them know what I’ve been doing and what I will continue to do on behalf of the taxpayer,” he said. “I’m looking for their continued support in November.”
Solomon faces Republican Mike Penta, who will be holding a fundraiser at his home Aug. 23 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.
While Ward 5 Councilman John DelGiudice isn’t seeking re-election, Republican Danny Hall, the chair of the GOP party, hopes to be elected.
This week he announced that the Warwick Fire Fighters are backing him. In a press release, William Lloyd, president of the Warwick Fire Fighters Local 2748, said, “The firefighters of Warwick are proud to endorse Danny Hall for City
Council in Ward 5. Danny understands the need for core government services like public safety and education. Danny has demonstrated his ability to deal with difficult problems and arrive at the best solution possible. We need more people like Danny in the Warwick City Council."
In response, Hall said, “I am honored to accept the endorsement from the Warwick Fire Fighters. These dedicated men and women firefighters throughout our city put their lives on the line to protect us and our property day in and day out and deserve our utmost respect and support."
Hall faces Democrat Ed Ladouceur, who said he’s looking forward to his upcoming fundraisers. He has one Aug. 28 at Chelo’s at 2225 Post Road beginning at 5 p.m., and another at the Elk’s Lounge at 1919 West Shore Road Sept. 10 from 8 to 11 a.m.
Further, he celebrated the grand opening of his headquarters, which is located on Warwick Avenue, last week. Also, he said he’s been having a good experience walking the ward.
“I’m really happy – it’s going really well,” he said. “I’m pleased with the reactions I’ve been getting from people. The reception at the doors has been very good. It’s enlightening and invigorating.”
Ward 6 Councilwoman Donna Travis, a Democrat, will face Republican Catharine Leach. Like most of the others, Leach has had pamphlets and signs printed and has been spending the summer walking the ward.
“I’ve been knocking on doors and talking to people and there are a lot of homeowners that are worried about property taxes getting too high,” she said. “I just want to make sure they don’t go up again.”
Ward 7 Councilman Charles “C.J.” Donovan, a Democrat, said he hopes the constituents of Ward 7 will see fit to put him back in the council seat. During walks of his ward, he’s noted that people are concerned about spending.
“It seems that the biggest issue I’m hearing in the last week or so is ‘what’s being done to secure that every taxpayer dollar is being scrutinized,’” he said. “I feel the best way to do that is by keeping expenditures down and only making purchases when absolutely necessary.”
Donovan opposes former councilman Al Gemma, as well as retired Warwick Police officer William Russo, who are both running as Independents. Gemma said he is interested in constituent service and is pleased that “a lot of people remember me,” as he walks the ward. He hopes his track record will help earn him a win.
“I’ve got tremendous experience and a great record for constituent affairs,” he said. “I’m a doer. I know how to create jobs.”
Unlike many other people vying for office, Russo, who has run for council twice in the past, has decided not to hold any fundraisers. He believes he should fund his own campaign.
“It’s one of those things I have a personal conviction about,” he said. “When I served at the Police Department, people didn’t have to pay to be served and I guess it’s carried over now that I’m running for office. It’s a civic duty and I don’t want to call upon other people to give me money to run.”
Russo, who retired from the WPD as a sergeant in 2006, views the election in Ward 7 as something “unique,” because they have three choices. They can vote for a former councilman, a current councilman or somebody new.
“They can really make a statement in 2012,” said Russo.
Of course, he said he’d be a great choice.
“I’m retired, so I can pay attention to what’s going on full-time,” Russo said.
Ward 8 Councilman Ray Gallucci is not seeking re-election, but his brother, Joseph, is. A former councilman, Joe is running as a Democrat and is looking forward to his upcoming fundraiser, which will be held Aug. 28 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel from 6 to 8 p.m. He also plans to visit senior centers in the near future.
Gallucci faces a primary with Louis Aponte Jr. Should he win, he’ll face Republican Lyn Jennings, who held her first fundraiser last week. If elected, she said she hopes to redirect the focus of city spending and make the infrastructure of schools, city streets, bridges and public facilities a priority.
Ward 9 Councilman Steven Merolla is running unopposed. He has a fundraiser planned at the East Greenwich Yacht Club Oct. 12.