Stenhouse sticks to message of 'building' at headquarters opening

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With the Democratic primary having determined the matchup for the mayoral election, Republican Sue Stenhouse opened her campaign headquarters Friday with a message that Warwick voters deserve the leadership that has the resolve and resources to get the job done.

“They deserve leadership with the courage to meet contemporary problems with bold solutions. They deserve leadership with integrity, with a track-record of successful results,” she said.

Stenhouse did not mention Mayor Joseph Solomon in her speech, who won 65 percent of the vote in last Wednesday’s Democratic primary in her speech. Nonetheless, she did call to the podium a Democrat, former City Council President Donald Torres, who she served with on the City Council to underscore her ability to work across the political aisle.

In a press release, Torres endorsed Stenhouse, saying, “We need a leader with a good sound vision for our city, someone who looks for input from residents, people with knowledge of the issues at hand and a mayor willing to listen to our talented city employees doing the job every day.  A leader who asks 'what else' will make this plan work.”

Torres is a lifelong resident of Warwick and retired Cranston firefighter. He served on the Warwick City Council from 2001 to 2007 and was president from 2005 to 2007. He ran for mayor against Avedisian in 2006. With his wife he is the owner of Express Embroidery off Post Road in Warwick.

Stenhouse campaign headquarters in Airport Plaza is a familiar location to Warwick Republicans, as it was headquarters for Scott Avedisian for many elections. But Avedisian, who resigned as mayor in May to take the job of president and CEO of the Rhode Island Transit Authority, did not make an appearance. Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Robert Flanders was in the audience, as was Paul Pence, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor. Not surprisingly, as he dismissed her as Cranston director of senior services and Stenhouse supported Rep. Patricia Morgan in the GOP gubernatorial primary, Republican nominee for governor Allan Fung was not present.

The audience of mostly friends, family and campaign workers was also devoid of local Republican candidates, reflective of the fact that of the nine council seats and nine Warwick General Assembly seats on the November ballot, there are only five Republican candidates.

There are no Republican candidates for council and only two wards – Ward 1 when incumbent Richard Corley faces a challenge from independent Patrick Maloney and Ward 4 where Democratic primary winner Jim McElroy faces independent Mike Penta – have contests.

Stenhouse is without the network of local candidates, who know their neighborhoods, to hold coffee parties or walk the ward. She is known in Ward 1, where she served as councilwoman for seven years before making an unsuccessful run for Secretary of State.

At the opening of the headquarters Mark Russell, who worked with Avedisian from his days on the City Council, rallied the crowd urging them to spread the word on Stenhouse, as well as volunteer to be with her as she walked neighborhoods and made campaign appearances. He also urged people to take Stenhouse signs and make campaign contributions.

According to his Sept. 5 campaign report, Solomon has a campaign war chest of $218,933. As she did not face a primary contest, Stenhouse has until Oct. 9 to file a report.

In her remarks that were remarkably similar to her announcement, Stenhouse talked of her experience in government as the Director of Community and Constituent relations for former Governor Donald Carcieri, working on the Station Fire and other emergency response events, Business Regulation Reform, Economic Development and education initiatives.

“My go-to formula for getting things done is clever problem solving, building coalitions and collaborating. This is true whether working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete much-overdue dredging along Pawtuxet Cove; saving home mail delivery for the residents of Gaspee Point or co-founding the Historic Walking Tour After-School Program to teach our youth to be proud of their home,” she said.

Stenhouse noted if elected she would be the city’s first female mayor.

“I am a woman with a unique tool belt. I am a builder, an innovative one. And I want to continue to build a Warwick that thrives – with a responsible, fiscal agenda, a robust economy, a flourishing school system and a proud sense of community,” she said.

On her build list is rapport with state and federal officials to find funding streams that support Warwick programs for education, public safety and public works; building a bridge between the City Council and the school committee to develop a sustainable plan for funding the needs of the city’s school system; support for city departments with the technical upgrades needed to provide timely, responsive, constructive constituent services; the planned vision of the City Centre, which supports the city’s transportation hubs and fosters substantive development around the airport and train station; and to bolster neighborhoods by assembling a regular conference of neighborhood associations to discuss a beneficial sharing of resources and assets that help protect Warwick’s unique history, improve our recreational spaces and sustain our beautiful coastline.

“I want to build confidence in City Hall,” Stenhouse said. “Most of all, I want to build up Warwick’s reputation as a vibrant, innovative, desirable place to live and work, raise a family and retire, go to school and grow a business.”

In a press release issued Monday, Stenhouse noted that Solomon consistently touts his four stints as president of the City Council in his campaign materials. 

"But that also means Joe was fired three times by his colleagues on the council, with council members three times opting for new leadership and vision, as when we elected Donald Torres to that important role. Donald was thoughtful and inclusive as council president. I was able to get 95 percent of my legislation passed due to collaborations with Donald and other council members," Stenhouse was quoted.

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Justanidiot

Her headquarters is right next to the wig store and cos-play store.

Tuesday, September 18
TheSkipper

So, on one side we have a man who was deputy mayor, and has experience in dealing with warwick's problems.

On the other side we have a nit wit who's only remarkable accomplishment is a lame dishonest political stunt dressing up an employee in drag to try to prove she was helping senior citizens? Well this is going to be a tough choice........NOT!

Tuesday, September 18
Thecaptain

When you question a mayoral candidate about the fundamental fiscal issues in the city that the candidate is running, and that candidate cannot show basic fundamental knowledge of budgetary issues, liabilities, contracts, or debt vs assets, that candidate is not worthy of your vote.

Tuesday, September 18
WwkVoter

ELECTION PREDICTION: Stenhouse's election night defeat party will be to the song "Dude Looks Like A Lady"!

Wednesday, September 19
WarwickObserver

All of her proposals are things that Mayor Solomon has already proposed or is working on. Sue has not had an original idea since she used her position of power to order a male employee to dress up like a woman. This seems like both abuse of power and hazing.

Wednesday, September 19
PhillipDrummond

Both candidates stink. It's the first time ever I'm thinking about sitting this one out but the mantra "if you don't vote you can't complain" keeps going around and around in my head. I expect Stenhouse to go after Solomon's record on the council and if the only thing Solomon can point to is the fact that Stenhouse dressed up a guy in drag then it's going to be real close. I don't think enough people care about that. I know you guys do and it will be played up big around here but on a whole no one cares. Avedisian wasn't good but he is still popular, if he ways in on this campaign he might help to tilt it in her favor. Will be interesting to watch it play out

Wednesday, September 19
Scal1024

Phillip, I agree with you. I feel like if Solomon's biggest issue with Stenhouse is her "judgement" based on the one incident, voters may grow tired of that line of attack. While I think it was a horrible error in judgement on her part, I think it was ultimately harmless, and no one was more embarrassed over that than Sue Stenhouse. I would like to see a campaign that rises above "he said, she said" and typical gutter politics but as we've seen in the Governor's race, it doesn't take long to race to the bottom.

Wednesday, September 19
Justanidiot

neither candidate has the ability to beat the taxed payers mayer

Wednesday, September 19
CrickeeRaven

Scal, I agree with you. Solomon would be making a major mistake if he made the 2016 photo op in Cranston too much of a campaign issue.

Stenhouse arguably has a lot of ammunition to use against him -- and has already started bringing it out.

As Phillip notes, if Avedisian is active in this race, he could be the deciding factor in voter turnout.

And in the end, that's the only thing that matters in this race: Who can get more people to the polls.

We don't know Stenhouse's potential to do that -- but we know Avedisian's. Remember, he got more votes than either of the Presidential candidates in 2016.

We also don't know what Stenhouse has for money, since she's not required to report until early October.

But I think it's fair to say that Stenhouse intends to be competitive on both those counts, so my prediction is that this election will be decided by 5 points or less.

Wednesday, September 19
Cat2222

“My go-to formula for getting things done is clever problem solving, building coalitions and collaborating. This is true whether working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete much-overdue dredging along Pawtuxet Cove; saving home mail delivery for the residents of Gaspee Point or co-founding the Historic Walking Tour After-School Program to teach our youth to be proud of their home,” she said.

No offense but none of those accomplishments are what I am looking for in a mayor. I would rather we talk about the real issues that hit our wallets. All I see if window dressing. What does the foundation look like?

Wednesday, September 19
richardcorrente

Dear Scal1024,

You say that you would like to see a campaign that rises above the "he said, she said and typical gutter politics".

Here's an honest suggestion:

Don't do it yourself!

Happy September everyone.

Wednesday, September 19
CrickeeRaven

Scal, look at how the two-time loser continues to humiliate himself.

"Don't do it yourself!"

What a hypocritical statement from the two-time loser, who falsely accused the school committee of extortion and blackmail, falsely accused the former mayor of unfairly hiking his tax assessments, and falsely accused Joe Solomon of improperly benefiting from his tax assessments.

He's not even in the race anymore [as a result of his blowout defeat at the hands of Joe Solomon], and he's commenting on your expectations for the general election.

I'm glad, as are 9,000+ of our honest, taxpaying neighbors, that the two-time loser is not part of this election any more, and will have no impact or effect on anything that happens.

Wednesday, September 19
WwkVoter

The Stenhouse drag queen fiasco - which made INTERNATIONAL news, humiliating RI - is two things, a good point of humor, AND a very serious campaign issue with regards to Stenhouse's mental judgement. It may be THE issue. However, Stenhouse also totally lacks the necessary experience.

Solomon has TONS of direct experience running Warwick AND a law degree and a CPA credential... and you cant take all that away from him.

So the calculus becomes, can Solomon do the right thing because the voters demand it - and if so he definitely has the capability to enact the voters' will (and I actually think he would, as he's not all that confrontational).

Stenhouse on the other hand not only has horrendous and bizzare judgement, is less than junior league at running Warwick. As to Avedisian pumping her up, how much sway would that really have? He is no longer mayor AND there at Category fiscal storm left behind his hasty departure.

His "Aww shucks" schtick worked for him while he ran a steady ship with little controversy but would that hold enough sway to elect a lady with her baggage and lack of experience? Nope. And the fact that Avedisian now appears to have run a steady ship, but a steadily slowly sinking fiscal ship which now requires big correction (tax hikes), further reduces any influence he may have publicly in our city. He would almost have to campaign to rehabilitate and improve his reputation all over again, THEN transfer some of that capital over to Stenhouse and hope that overcomes all her weaknesses. He wont, and it wont. He has a new job to do and no matter how much he delegates work there, he cant run from all the time that will take. Not to mention what kind of experience does he have directly running a large transportation organization? Almost none. Makes him even more tied up while he tries to get up to speed there.

Unless Solomon gets run over by a truck, I predict he is our next mayor. (And he has my vote as the clearly logical choice).

Just my opinion, and I really don't know any of these people personally, except from the coverage in excellent Warwick Beacon and other media reports.

Wednesday, September 19
Scal1024

Rick, I know it is difficult for you to comprehend...well, pretty much anything, but allow me to try and explain this to you like the child you are....

There is a difference between stating facts, and stating opinion. When I say that you are a tax delinquent, and share the link along with my information...that is a FACT, backed up by sources. When you make erroneous claims about Joe Solomon, with no factual proof or sources whatsoever do you know what that is called? I'll say it slowly for you...that is called an OPINION. When facts prove that your OPINION is FALSE...then it becomes a LIE.

Throughout his entire campaign Rick Corrente has engaged in gutter politics. Rick once claimed Mayor Avedisian didn't know the school system because he doesn't have children of his own. Based on Correntes knowledge of the school system, he could have 20 kids enrolled and it wouldn't change the ignorance he has displayed.

When Rick Corrente stops posting falsehoods, or lying about his own past financial failures, I will stop correcting the record. Until then Rick, if you don't like what I have to say TELL THE TRUTH!!! Your history of tax delinquency will not be swept under the rug. When you run for public office, you expose yourself to criticism. When you lie about your own record, you invite voters to look even further into it. Thank you CrickeeRaven and Captain for all of the fact checking you do on this TWO TIME LOSER.

Wednesday, September 19
CrickeeRaven

WwkVoter, I understand your perspective, and generally agree that the 2016 photo op is something that Stenhouse will have to address in her campaign.

Where I disagree is in the idea that Avedisian is to blame [at least solely] for the current condition of the city's finances. As I've mentioned, he warned the council against passing their FY18 budget and decided against a veto because he knew they would override it. We now know that the FY18 budget left a $4.2 million hole.

As you recall, that budget also anticipated a 99-percent tax collection rate, which the council passed over Avedisian's objections. How much was that increase in the collection rate worth? $3.6 million.

So, obviously, the increase in the collection rate didn't do anything to address the deficit in that budget.

[See page 11 of this PDF to see those numbers: https://www.warwickri.gov/sites/warwickri/files/pages/adopted_fy18_general_fund_budget.pdf ]

Avedisian's proposed FY18 budget included a 46-cent tax rate increase and a 98.5% collection rate, which would have generated $7.1 million in property tax revenue.

This article includes a PDF showing this: https://warwickpost.com/avedisian-proposes-1-76-percent-tax-rate-increase-310-million-budget/

Solomon and the council had their chance in FY18 to avoid a deficit that year, but didn't take it.

So, if we're looking at it from a strictly campaign message standpoint, all Avedisian has to say is, basically, "I gave them a budget that would have avoided this mess, but Joe Solomon didn't listen."

Wednesday, September 19
WwkVoter

Raven you never let down. Brilliant!

I'd just like to speak to point one, there is no "addressing" the photo op. That can't be fixed. She did it, she stood there and tried to pull it off in front of the TV News cameras and the kids for whom the event was held, she owns it all, and was fired as a result. No "addressing" it will fix any of that.

As to your excellent detailed budget process information, thank you. You know a lot more tahn me and got to the key points that had our City Council, gone Avedisian's way and passed a modest tax hike along with budgeting with more realistic collections expectations, we'd have a tight budget but not an impossible one.

But in our system, a mayor gets way more blame than the council. That's just to my view, how it works. he *could* in support of Stenhouse say that he sent a workable budget (with a tax hike) to the council and they gave out raises and didnt bring enough money, knowing that the schools gave raises, and all of that must be paid for... but many in the public who pay way less attention than we do, will see two things, financial uncertainty now and next year, and that Avedisian was mayor, and bailed. If Avedisian really didnt like what the council was doing, he could have made way more noise about it than he did. I pay some attention and didnt catch the nuances which you had to explain just now. If *I* dont see that, what are the chances the voters at large will?

A mayor is the name and face of a city government, and right now we have an "issue" and I stand by my opinion that Avedisian cant help Stenhouse enough to beat Solomon, not even close.

But that is the fun of all this, we shall see!!!! And thanks as always for your great post!

Wednesday, September 19
CrickeeRaven

Excellent points, as always, WwkVoter.

I'd only offer that Solomon since is mayor now, it's his name and face on the city. And as I mentioned, he and the Dem council have essentially been in total control of the budget.

So, one real question here is whether Solomon's current standing will help or hurt him.

Also, I think the positive image of Avedisian among many voters [overwhelming majorities for the last 18 years] counts for a lot.

This leads to the second question, one that I think drives right to the heart of your view on Stenhouse: Will Avedisian's positive reputation be transferable to a candidate who has that kind of PR disaster in her past?

And, respectfully, I disagree that she can't address it.

Here's what I think might work: "I made a mistake, I know I embarrassed a lot of people, I'm still humiliated over it. But I believe in taking responsibility and earning back peoples' trust, and I know that what I have to offer the city is bigger than one mistake."

...Or something like that. I'm no campaign operative, mind you. I'm just thinking from the standpoint of, she's in this race and needs to limit the potential for the prior incident to overwhelm the campaign.

As you say, though, that's the fun of discussing elections -- you never know what might happen.

I appreciate your input and viewpoint on this, WV!

Wednesday, September 19
Thecaptain

Unfortunately, I spoke with Stenhouse at length this past week. She was unable to answer the simplest of questions pertaining to city finances. She had no knowledge of our unfunded liabilities, she could not point to one line item in the budget that she could find savings in, and she was unable to articulate any ideas on streamlining the city expenditures.

When I asked her how she would find the monies that have been negotiated in terms of contractual raises and balancing the budget, her answer was to find more revenue streams in he form of taxes such as developing City Center. Where have we heard that line before?

So in the absence of being able to articulate one idea, and the inability to answer any budget questions, I would conclude that she is unfit for office because as of this date she has no plan whatsoever.

Thursday, September 20
CrickeeRaven

That's unfortunate, Thecaptain. One would think a candidate could have at least basic answers to fundamental questions about the city's operations.

As WwkVoter and I were discussing, an open question is what Avedisian's influence will mean in this race.

But the water's edge, so to speak, is Stenhouse's own capabilities -- Avedisian's popularity won't cure any shortcomings that she may have.

Thursday, September 20
Cat2222

Just my two cents for what it is worth but if Stenhouse was on the council for 7 years, wouldn't it be safe to say she has some responsibility in contributing to the mess she hopes to clean up? I feel as if she has tried to distance herself from it to a certain extent and that is hardly fair considering how closely she aligns herself with Avedesian.

Her addressing the cross dressing issues doesn't matter to me as a voter. He lack of judgement and integrity in being a part of that media circus can't be wiped away. I also doubt she would even bother to address it because from all accounts, she hasn't claimed responsibility and has dismissed it as a nonissue.

It will be interesting to see if she can pull numbers based on her association with Avedesian, other political connections and her familiar face in the city. It wouldn't surprise me in the least.

Thursday, September 20
WwkVoter

With no plan whatsoever, maybe Stenhouse can adopt the "corrente plan" that way she can really lose in style!

Seriously though, Rob you should put that post into the form of a letter to the editor. Voter need o hear input like that, and it would be no different if you asked and got really good answers that would be important too.

What a shame that she has no clue. Too many are that way (as you often point out).

Thursday, September 20
What’s Up With That

There was a comment about where would the money come from for contractual raises. There’s $1.3 million already in the budget for raises.

Tuesday, September 25