As former Warwick City Council President and now Acting Mayor Joseph Solomon watched from the upper balcony with a smile on his face, Merolla took time to thank both Solomon and former mayor Scott Avedisian as he assumed the duties of City Council President for the first time.
“We're living in a new time,” Merolla said. “I'm honored and privileged that I was here to serve with Mayor Solomon so long. I wish him well. I know he's a bright, intuitive, intelligent man that is also fair and honest and hopefully we can continue to run smoothly under his tutelage. I would also like to thank Mayor Scott Avedisian for all the time he put in. It was a pleasure to work with him. I always had a respect for his opinions whether I agreed with them or didn't.”
Ward 9 Councilman Steve Merolla has served on the Warwick City Council for 20 years – longer even than the 18-year tenures Avedisian as mayor or Solomon’s 18-year tenure on the council – and was officially nominated and approved by his city council colleagues on Monday night.
“I did so because of your experience and because of your due diligence,” said Ward 5 Councilman Ed Ladouceur, who made the motion to nominate Merolla, which was seconded by all other members of the council (Ward 6 councilwoman Donna Travis could not attend the meeting). “Because of your ability to dig into issues that are not always apparent, your willingness to look beyond what's on a document or piece of paper, for the leadership that you've displayed for 20 years serving on this city council.”
Merolla had sat as chair of the council’s ordinance committee, a seat he appointed Ward 3 Councilman Tim Howe to fill, as well as the appointments committee, a seat he appointed Ward 7 Councilman Stephen McAllister to fill. Merolla chose to reinstall the duties of council president pro tempore to Ward 8 Councilman Joseph Gallucci, whom Merolla also made a point to praise.
“He has served not only this council with distinction, but also the city of Warwick for a long time,” Merolla said. “He is known as a gentleman throughout his tenure of service in the city of Warwick, which I believe spans about 40 years…To have his support and his leadership behind me means a great deal.”
Merolla said that the responsibility of the council president position is to help keep meetings organized, efficient and civil – a responsibility he intends to take seriously.
“Our process here, from a public standpoint and from the council's standpoint, is to have good informative meetings and make educated decisions on what's best for the city,” he said. “I'm not going to tolerate personal attacks on other people either from the public or the council. I will step in. We're here to move meetings along efficiently.”
Ladouceur expressed his excitement at what he described as a new chapter in Warwick’s history.
“I am very excited about the new direction that the city has – the new direction from Mayor Solomon,” he said. “For the willingness in just the recent few days, the ability to sit with and speak with department heads who are not only willing to speak with me, but are excited to do so, and are willing to share information and help us move forward. The day of having to schedule appointments to meet with our mayor or a department head, those days are long gone.”
Merolla, who said he moved to Warwick in 1968 and attended Cedar Hill Elementary, Winman Junior High School and Toll Gate High School, said he was honored to assume the council president position and will continue to strive to make the best decisions to move the city forward.
“It was a blessing to grow up in this city,” he said. “This is the city that I love, and I’ve decided to raise my family here. This city means as much to me as it does to all of you.”