Balance in government is viewed as a good thing. Having one party control both the legislative and administrative branches is thought to be undesirable, as it concentrates power with one group. Likewise, it is argued party domination within the legislative branch vests too much power in the hands of few.
You would think that would be the case in the Warwick City Council, where there is one Republican and eight Democrats. The Republican would be close to superfluous and the council would do its best to show up Mayor Scott Avedisian, a Republican, at every opportunity. But that hasn’t happened.
Votes don’t strictly follow party lines and, quite frequently, Democratic members of the council are divided on issues. That is positive, although there is room for even greater communication and cooperation between the mayor and the council. We can’t say how that will change after Nov. 6 and the election of a new council president, as the current president Bruce Place is not seeking re-election.
That is one manner of looking at council candidates. Will they work with the mayor?
While they are not exclusive, another way is to evaluate performance in the case of incumbents; is their ability to listen and to act on issues affecting the ward?
This election year, three council seats will go uncontested, as either only one candidate declared for the seat, or as in the case of Ward 3 Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson, won a primary contest. Incumbent Steve Merolla is unchallenged in Ward 9. and newcomer to elective office Thomas Chadronet is the only candidate in Ward 2.
Ward 1 incumbent Steve Colantuono has done a good job in representing his constituents and should be returned to the council. In a bizarre twist, the most volatile issue of the Ward 1 campaign has come from outside the camp of his Democratic opponent, Sharon Ahearn. Ahearn disavowed any connection to a flyer claiming Colantuono had voted on legislation that would benefit him. As it turned out, former Councilman Robert Cushman distributed the flyer.
In Ward 4, veteran Councilman Joseph Solomon faces a challenge from newcomer Michael Penta. Penta has waged a good campaign. He has walked the ward and he has gotten his name out. We hope Penta pursues his interest in public service, however, at this time our choice is to stay the course with Solomon.
In Ward 5, where incumbent John DelGiudice has chosen not to seek re-election, Danny Hall and Edgar Ladouceur have both waged intense campaigns. They come from different backgrounds. Hall is a corrections officer. Ladouceur is an advocate of small business and owns a contracting firm. Both would bring new insight to the council and both, we feel, would do a good job of representing the ward. Our choice is Hall.
Donna Travis, the incumbent Ward 6 councilwoman, has done a good job of representing her constituents. We have heard little from her challenger, Catherine Leach, and think Travis should be returned to the council.
In contrast, Ward 7 is a hotbed of political activity. Incumbent Charles [CJ] Donovan Jr. is in a three-way contest with William Russo and Alfred Gemma, who are running as independents. Donovan is a survivor, narrowly winning prior contests. He is likable but not especially attentive to constituents. Gemma, who previously held the seat, and a seat in the State House, is looking to make a comeback. Russo, a retired policeman, is a consistent observer of government and has run before. We would like to see what he could do if elected. He’s our choice.
Ward 8 voters have a choice between Joseph Gallucci, the brother of incumbent councilman Ray Gallucci who is not seeking re-election, and Lyn Jennings. Joe has a long and distinguished career in city government. He served on the council from 1977 to 1984 and returned from 1990 to 1994 before becoming the city’s registrar of voters. He retired from that job last year. Jennings made her mark on the political scene two years ago. She rallied salon owners across the state in opposition of Governor Chafee’s proposed taxes and galvanized opposition that led to the measure’s defeat. We like her feistiness and think she would be a good addition to the council.