Local businessman and resident Mike Penta, 46, made it to City Hall Wednesday afternoon with less than 10 minutes to spare, as he was the last person to declare that he plans to run for political office in Warwick, specifically as councilman of Ward 4.
Penta, who is running as a Republican against Councilman Joseph Solomon, a Democrat, said he became interested in local politics about seven or eight years ago. If elected, he plans to set his sights on making sure he listens to what the people of Ward 4 have to say.
“I tend to be very responsive, which I hear is an issue in Ward 4,” he said during an interview Thursday morning at the Warwick Beacon. “If we focus on listening to the people who put us here, we are going to be able to accomplish a lot more.”
Further, he feels the only way progress can be made is if elected officials work together, regardless of their political affiliations.
“People are always judging people from other parties – Republicans, Democrats, independents – but it doesn’t matter what party you’re from, as long as you can work with others,” Penta said. “I get frustrated and fed up with Washington down to local cities with all the political arguments and fighting within the parties. I want to come in and work with the other parties and see if I can turn things around a little bit.”
As the owner and operator of two businesses, MC Renovations Inc. & Home Improvements at 30 Dayton Avenue and a local restaurant, Penta is hopeful he’ll be able to assist other business owners establish flourishing companies in the city. This, he said, will not only help owners, but also create jobs during a poor economy.
He said he would like to concentrate on improving the school system in terms of making safety modifications to the facilities to meet fire code requirements and also ensure that they are more secure all around.
“Right now, schools are just so wide open to the general public,” said Penta. “I go by the schools everyday and see the kids in the schoolyards playing and there are no gates or fences. They can just wander off or be taken from the premises.”
In other aspects of schools, he thinks it’s unfortunate that students are losing valuable privileges, such as sports.
“They need to keep those privileges because it gives them something to look forward to,” said Penta.
He also said he’s considering working with Mayor Scott Avedisian on the Rocky Point project, as he believes opening the remaining land to the public would be a victory for the city and its constituents.
Additionally, he praised Avedisian and his administration for the manner in which they are managing the city, but also feels there’s potential for improvement.
“I love the city of Warwick and I think our police, fire and municipal workers are all doing a fabulous job,” Penta said. “I see us doing well, but I also see so much room for us to do better. You can always do better.”
While he didn’t want to get too deep into details, Penta said he has come a long way in life, as he has struggled financially in the past. These days, he’s pleased to have both feet on the ground, but views the experience as something that has taught him strength and determination.
“I’m a hard-working person who has struggled to get where I am today – I still struggle, but I feel you need someone like that in office that works as hard as anybody else and understands everybody else,” he said. “I just want to get out there and make things happen. I owe it to the people out there.”
Born in Warwick, Penta briefly lived in the city before moving to Providence as a child. He has lived in Warwick for the last 40 years.
He married his wife, Angelica, about a year and a half ago. He has three children, plus a stepchild. Also, Penta has four grandchildren.
At the moment, he’s gearing up for his first fundraising event, which will be held July 11 at 6 p.m. at the Warwick Fire Fighters Hall at Warwick Avenue.
But that’s not all.
“I’m going to get out there and do my homework,” he said. “I’ll hopefully walk the Ward twice.”