Joseph Solomon is one step closer to being the duly elected mayor of Warwick, as he easily defeated his Democratic challengers during Wednesday’s primary by grabbing close to 65 percent of the vote.
Solomon has repeated during his approximately four months in office, following the departure of former Mayor Scott Avedisian in the midst of his 18th year in office, that he wants to help make “an even better Warwick,” and has touted his ability to examine financial information and work with local businesses and residents – in addition to his 20 years of experience in local government – as his top qualifications for the job.
While both his challengers, Richard Corrente and Gerald “Ged” Carbone, campaigned hard and participated in a pre-primary forum to discuss their views on the issues and were able to nab over 3,000 votes between the both of them, even that number was just a fraction of Solomon’s final count.
“It’s a blow out,” was a phrase heard more than once from Solomon’s campaign manager Jackie Baginski as poll results were posted to a packed campaign headquarters.
“This is beautiful,” Solomon said as he descended from a second floor office where the numbers were tallied. He said the voters put their confidence in a “steady reliable mayor who puts the taxpayers first.”
Solomon will now face off against former Warwick City Councilwomen Sue Stenhouse, the lone Republican challenger who has garnered the support of Avedisian and has already thrown two pointed political jabs at Solomon’s leadership, indicating things might get even more heated as things kick into gear towards November.
While Solomon’s race could be considered a blowout, other local races were squeakers, especially in Senate District 29 and Ward 8.
Compared to the ranks of Democrats, there aren’t many registered Republicans in Warwick; nonetheless there was a rare local Republican primary for the Representative District 21 seat held by incumbent Camille Vella-Wilkinson.
Facing off for the party’s nomination were Michael Underwood and Ron Loparto. Underwood, who says he wants to lead ethics reform, approve the line-item veto and do away with truck tolls came out the winner. Underwood was visible throughout the district Tuesday, driving a moped (he joked about saving energy) between polling districts.
With a heated three-way primary for the Republican gubernatorial candidate on the top of the ticket – Cranston Mayor Allan Fung coming out the winner on that one – the only local Republican primary contest saw more voters than would have been expected otherwise.
Taking nothing for granted, incumbent District 29 senator and Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey staged a vigorous campaign in his bid for Democratic nomination with political newcomer Jennifer Rourke. McCaffrey signs were ubiquitous. He sent out more than one mailer to those who have voted in Democratic primaries and in the week leading up to the primary placed robo calls reminding voters that the primary was Wednesday, not Tuesday, and naturally, that he was respectfully asking for their support. McCaffrey sees his leadership position in the Senate as benefiting Warwick. It paid off.
Proud of her position as an “outsider” Rourke advocated change and keeping corporations out of politics.
McCaffrey won and, there being no Republican or independent seeking the seat, will return to the senate.
In surely what turned out to be the nastiest of Warwick primary contests, which might be considered humdrum by Providence politics standards, first-time senate candidate Mark McKenney beat incumbent Jeanine Calkin to represent the constituents of Senate District 30. The first dustup in the contest was over the endorsement and that the district committee selected McKenney over Calkin, who beat the late incumbent William Walaska. Calkin was aligned with the Bernie Sanders Democrats who came on strong in the closing weeks of the 2016 Democratic Presidential primary. As it turned out, McKenney had long considered running for the district and out of respect for Walaska, chose not to contest him in a primary.
In the closing days of this year’s primary, The Value Project, a partnership of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence and Planned Parenthood mailed a flyer in support of Calkin implying McKenney favored guns in schools, although McKenney had answered a coalition questionnaire that he opposed guns in schools. Calkin disavowed any involvement with the flyer, but McKenney responded with a flyer of his own.
With his win, McKenney will be the new District 30 senator as there are no challengers in the November election.
In addressing those at Solomon headquarters, McKenney said “more reasonable, common sense” campaigning paid off. He said he walked the district and he aims to offer constituents “a little more centric approach” than Rourke.
In the Ward 4 contest for the City Council seat held by Joseph Solomon until he assumed the role of mayor to complete the term of Scott Avedisian, Jim McElroy won the nomination over Ernest Flagg. McElroy had Solomon’s support and the party’s endorsement. Both candidates put on a strong bid for the seat, walking the ward and posting their signs throughout the neighborhood. McElroy goes on to face Michael Penta, who is running as an independent in November.
In Ward 8, where incumbent Joseph Gallucci chose not to seek reelection, Bethany Furtado lost to Anthony Sinapi. Furtado, currently chair of the School Committee, gained Gallucci and the ward committee’s endorsement but she faced an uphill battle against Sinapi who, according to sources had the support of the teachers union. Sinapi was critical of Furtado’s 12-year tenure on the School Committee, claiming mismanagement. Furtado defended her service to schools and the tough decisions that had to be made over consolidation. There being no other candidates for Ward 8, Sinapi's win means he will hold the post next year.