The room erupted in cheers and applause as the votes poured in and State Representative Democratic candidate for District 23 K. Joseph Shekarchi realized he won the election against Republican candidate John Falkowski.
“I am very grateful and humbled by the results,” he said to a crowd of about 30 of his supporters. Everyone united at his campaign headquarters on Jefferson Boulevard. “I’ve been involved in politics for a long time and winning campaigns doesn’t just happen – they happen with a lot of hard work and a lot of team work. I had the best campaign staff and the best volunteers. This was a total victory for everybody.”
Shekarchi, a lifelong Warwick resident, has been a practicing attorney in the city for more than 17 years. In that time, he has helped bring businesses to Warwick, such as Panera Bread, Trader Joe’s, ScrubaDub Car Wash, Balise Motors and Washington Trust.
Now, he is excited to be fulfilling another accomplishment through earning the seat.
“This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” he said. “I’m very happy and proud. What makes it special for me is that I share this with my family and friends.”
“You deserve it,” his friends shouted in unison. Shekarchi earned 67.8 percent of the vote to Falkowski’s 31.8 percent.
Despite hostility that erupted during the campaign, as Falkowski questioned the credibility of Shekarchi, saying that Shekarchi recently moved into a foreclosed home within the district simply to run for the seat and “get his name out there,” as well as accusing him of illegally posting signs promoting his campaign, Falkowski extended a congratulatory phone call shortly after the results came in.
“I received a call from John Falkowski and I thanked him for it,” Shekarchi said during an interview Tuesday night. “Even though I had issues with his campaign tactics, I thought it was a very classy move on his part and I greatly appreciate it. He was nothing but a gentleman all day.”
During a phone interview yesterday afternoon, Falkowski said that while he offered his praise, he said he’ll be keeping a close eye on Shekarchi.
“I told him that I’d be watching,” Falkowski said. “If he does something that I don’t agree with, I’ll definitely be letting him know.”
Further, Falkowski said while he didn’t get the results he was hoping for, he’s proud that he gave it his best shot. Also, he believes he made a difference in the state through his campaign, as he initially decided to run because he was unimpressed by the poor voting record of current District 23 State Representative Bob Flaherty.
“I didn’t think he was working for the district, so I think [Tuesday was] a better day for the people of the district,” Falkowski said. “I’m glad there is somebody new in there that I think will work for the people. It’s not all about me. Although I didn’t accomplish my goal of being elected, I did make an impact for the better. It’s not all bad. I’m coming away with a good feeling.”
In the future, Falkowski, who was the only Republican challenger for the position during the last decade, said he “absolutely” plans to run again for office. He said right now it’s too early to say what office he would seek, but running again for District 23 is an option.
“I’m leaning towards State Rep again, but we’ll make that decision down the road,” he said. “This was my first attempt and it was definitely an education that I enjoyed. I feel that I’ve got some unfinished business, so I’m not one and done as far as running for office.”