Longtime political activist running for House seatLongtime political activist running for House seat
"Running for State Representative is something I’ve always been interested in and I thought that this was the right opportunity at the right time,” says K. Joseph Shekarchi, a local attorney who has qualified to run for State Representative in District 23. “Being a state representative, to me, is an important role and I feel I can fulfill that role very well. I feel like I can be effective.”
The current District 23 state rep Robert Flaherty is not seeking re-election but has endorsed Shekarchi, a fellow Democrat. John Falkowski, a Republican, will oppose him.
Shekarchi, a lifelong resident of Warwick who said he “declared the last day at the last hour,” has been practicing law at his own firm at 33 College Hill Road near Kent Hospital for more than 15 years. He said he has been instrumental in expanding Warwick’s tax base and has helped create jobs in that time.
“I’m proud of my accomplishments with Washington Trust Bank – for bringing two branch locations to the city – the two Lowe’s locations, not to mention helping to expand Balise, and bringing a Balise facility to Jefferson Boulevard,” he said.
The Balise expansion alone is an $8 million investment for the city.
“I know how to make things work,” he said with confidence. “Running for office, for me, isn’t about ego or the position or title – it’s about getting things done [and] I think I can get things done. I have a record that proves that. Warwick pays a lot of taxes into state government [and] I want to make sure Warwick gets it’s fair share of taxes.”
Additionally, Shekarchi is proud of his accomplishments in relation to T.F. Green Airport, as he served as the attorney for the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC).
“I was hired and in 60 days the City Council went from an 8-0 vote against expansion to a 9-0 vote in favor of expansion with a comprehensive community benefits agreement,” he said.
The airport, said Shekarchi, whether residents like it or not, is going to be a part of growth in the future. Therefore, he plans to ensure that the airport maintains its “good neighbor status.”
Moreover, he is interested in making sure senior citizens are protected. He said he plans to make it a priority to help seniors stay in their own homes.
“Senior citizens are the lifeblood of our community [and] we need to provide and continue to provide clean, safe, affordable housing for senior citizens,” Shekarchi said. “They pay their fair share of taxes. They should be provided with their fair share of services from the city as well.”
Shekarchi attended Randall Holden Elementary School, as well as Hoxsie Elementary School, Mount St. Charles High School and Suffolk University, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in government. He graduated from Suffolk University Law School in 1990.
He has been the lawyer for the Warwick Housing Authority for the last 15 years, served as lawyer for the Kent County Courthouse, was briefly the Warwick City Solicitor, the Director of Legislation for the late and former Governor Bruce Sundlun and worked on the campaigns of former Mayor Charles Donovan and General Treasurer Gina M. Raimondo.
Working with Raimondo, he said, was “wonderful.”
“She’s an unbelievable, talented person with an incredible amount of energy,” said Shekarchi. “She’s all about getting things done and that’s the kind of candidate I want to be. I want to be known as a representative who accomplished a lot for the city of Warwick. I want to make Warwick the best place to live in the state of Rhode Island. I’m ready to do the job and do the job well.”
Raimondo thinks he has what it takes to do just that.
“Joe is a get-things-done guy,” she said in an email exchange. “He is a wonderful person, a talented lawyer and a friend. Joe is committed to serving his community and state. He will be a tireless advocate for the city of Warwick in the General Assembly.”
Mayor Scott Avedisian agrees.
“Joe has the ability to bring both parties together,” he said. “It was very encouraging what he was able to do with the Rhode Island Airport Corporation and the City Council. He’s a good candidate.”