He’s a founder of a nationally recognized veterans advocacy group. She’s a young graduate of Toll Gate High School interested in public service. He’s an advocate for the disabled, veterans, and Rhode Island’s fishermen. When she sees an injustice, she will, in her own words, “not shut up.”
This father-daughter duo is looking to make a difference in Rhode Island politics through their no-nonsense, problem solving, bipartisan approach to government.
“We want to work together!” said Julie and Sal Caiozzo last Wednesday when the Beacon sat down with them to talk about their upcoming campaigns.
Both Warwick residents, Sal is running for U.S House of Representatives against Democrat Jim Langevin, while his daughter, Julie, only 26, is running for Representative District 24 currently held by Democrat Evan Shanley.
Both father and daughter are running as Republicans, but they want to work with members of all parties to solve big problems. “I just can’t understand the concept of going against each other and our country,” said Julie. “I can’t grasp that. A divided country is a weak country.”
When asked about their opinion of Donald Trump, they had this to say.
“My philosophy is that we have to work together on both sides of the aisle,” said Sal. “We have to respect each other above all else.”
“I’m going to respect anyone who’s been in that position,” said Julie. “I respect the President of the United States. It doesn’t matter if they’re a Republican or a Democrat. It doesn’t matter what party you are, it’s about the people.”
That’s a markedly different approach compared to what most political figures say of Trump. Julie and Sal want to put aside politics for the sake of action.
Sal has run for elected office before, against Langevin in 2016 as an independent, but this is Julie’s first run for office.
Sal Caiozzo has been heavily involved in politics, on both a local and national level, for years. He is the founder of Poisoned Veterans, an organization that fights for the rights of veterans who have been exposed to dangerous toxins and chemicals during their time in service.
Sal was the victim of radiation and toxins while training for Military Police School and stationed at Fort McClellan, Alabama in the 1980s. He got a fibrous mass in his leg and had to be medically discharged. Afterwards, Sal went to work affiliated with the U.S. Navy in the Mediterranean, but after compounding medical problems he helped found Poisoned Veterans in 2013.
“When you see something wrong you try to fix it,” said Sal of his efforts in the public sphere.
Other than Poisoned Veterans, he’s also been involved in fighting to update the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which he said is preventing fishermen in Rhode Island from making an honest living.
Sal also helped win free RIPTA bus passes for the elderly and disabled by holding a rally at the State House and by directly lobbying the RIPTA board last spring.
“I’m a voice. I’m out there,” said Sal.
Her father’s drive to make a difference for Rhode Islanders has led Julie to run for public office. She wants to fight injustice just like her father.
“Growing up, I saw this man trying to tackle the world and doing everything possible that he could,” said Julie. “Now that I’m older, I’m always telling him when you get elected this is something you need to fix. In the end [he said], ‘why don’t you take care of this yourself?’ Actually, you know, you’re right, I should just take matters into my own hands.”
Julie was born in Italy but was raised in Warwick. While in Italy she remembers being the only family in town with an American flag, but that even overseas she was proud to be an American.
“I was so little and I looked up and saw so many men and women in uniform,” said Julie. “My dad was so awesome. I was so proud to be his daughter and so proud of my dad.”
Julie went to Toll Gate High School and is a registered esthetician working in Providence. She believes that her overseas perspective will help her make Warwick a better place.
“Through the years I’ve grown up a lot, I’ve seen a lot of things, I’ve traveled,” said Julie. “I’ve seen how other countries run certain things. I’ve seen a lot of differences in the world.”
Julie was a part of the Naval Sea Cadets as a child, a U.S. Navy chartered group that seeks to introduce young people to ocean-going service. While working for that group Julie was involved with helping refugees of Hurricane Katrina.
She also dreams of starting a family.
“I have so many concerns for Warwick,” said Julie. “I love Warwick. I dream of having a family and having my life here. I want to make sure that the environment that I’m in is a good environment to help people.”
Julie wants to be an advocate for Warwick’s small businesses and public schools, but she also wants to give the people what they need to succeed.
“I want to know exactly what needs to be done, and I will be the loudest voice there is for the community,” said Julie. “And my voice can get pretty loud; ask my dad.”
Sal laughed in agreement.
“I’m very proud of my daughter,” he said.
Look out for the Caiozzos on the campaign trail soon.