Aram Garabedian, co-managing partner of Warwick Mall, has filed to run as an independent against Democratic incumbent Hanna Gallo for Senate District 27 in Cranston. Garabedian is no stranger to politics, having served for six years on the Cranston School Committee, eight years in the House of Representatives, two years in the Senate and four years as Cranston City Council president. He is also no stranger to Warwick as managing partner of Warwick Mall.
Garabedian last held public office in 2008, when his four-year tenure as City Council president came to an end. He was last a member of the General Assembly in 2002, after a back-to-back two years in the House and another two years in the Senate.
Garabedian said he filed to run for Senate this year because he feels passionately about the “health, safety and welfare of Rhode Island.”
During his time in politics, Garabedian has run for office as a Republican, Democrat and Independent. He said his choice to run as an independent this time stemmed from the fact that the General Assembly already has a strong Democratic presence. By running as an independent against incumbent Hanna Gallo, it also ensures he bypasses the primary election and moves straight to the November ballot.
“Most people don’t vote on [primary] day,” he said. “But the presidential election gets a major turnout.”
Garabedian said his choice to file for Senate, versus another elected office, boiled down to the “politics within politics.” During an interview yesterday, Garabedian was en route to City Hall to check on the last-minute filings.
As of press time yesterday, Garabedian was unsure if he would make a last minute switch and file for state representative instead. Regardless, once filed, Garabedian must collect 100 signatures by Tuesday in order to ensure his name appears on the ballot. Those signatures, he said, will likely be collected while strolling his own neighborhood.
“Having lived in Cranston for a long time, I’ve established my credibility,” he said.
Garabedian believes if elected, his background in business will lend itself to an economic turnaround in the state. He acknowledged that there are a plethora of professionals in the General Assembly, but none with the business background he possesses.
“Rhode Island is in need of an economy and jobs,” he said. “I have a good handle on all forms of government in the state. I’m a man who doesn’t go along to get going.”
Garabedian said he is bothered by certain fiscal decisions made by lawmakers as of late. He specifically mentioned the 38 Studios deal.
“The state should have said we can’t handle it,” he said. Garabedian hopes to hone in specifically on taxpayer dollars and boosting the economy.
“The state cut taxes which cause tax increases in the cities,” he said. “That’s a concern.”
Manufacturing is another issue on Garabedian’s mind.
“A guy like me in the General Assembly can serve as a spark plug and motivation for economic [growth],” he said.
Garabedian acknowledged the challenges that accompany running against an incumbent but said he is confident he will win.
“I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t expect to win. I’m not running to lose,” he said. “I don’t have a fear of losing because of so much adversity I’ve been through.”
The flooding of Warwick Mall in 2010, a situation he said was much more serious than running for office, taught him he could overcome challenges. He believes his ability to turn the situation at the mall around will provide voters with evidence of his personal strength and business savvy.
As for how much money he plans to raise for his campaign, Garabedian is tight-lipped for now.
“That would give the enemy an advantage,” he said.