By JOHN HOWELL As election returns came in after the polls closed, Richard Cascella was beside himself with ecstatic disbelief. If what he was seeing was the trend, Warwick Republicans would hold seats on the City Council and in the General Assembly that
As election returns came in after the polls closed, Richard Cascella was beside himself with ecstatic disbelief.
If what he was seeing was the trend, Warwick Republicans would hold seats on the City Council and in the General Assembly that they hadn’t won for decades.
Cascella, chair of the Warwick GOP Committee, texted friends with the news that the world of local politics was changing. But as he discovered late that night when the Board of Elections counted the mail and early voter ballots, the leads held by Republicans quickly evaporated. The only Democrat to lose was the mayor, and that was to Frank Picozzi, who ran as an independent.
But Cascella isn’t disheartened. As he sought to do when he became city party chair, he aims to reenergize the party. He will be announcing a meeting sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas shortly.
“I’m happy for Franck Picozzi and I’m happy for Warwick,” Cascella said. He said Picozzi is “outside the machine” and that he considers him a man who will ask for help when he needs it and will rally city workers. Because Picozzi is a contractor and understands the importance of doing a good job, he feels that can translate into improving the city’s appearance and doing the “little things” to clean up the city.
As for how the party’s seven Warwick candidates fared, Cascella said, “I’m disappointed for them.” He applauds them for their interest in public service and is hopeful they will consider running in the future.
He notes that the Democrats have had organization in place for the past 40 years. While the Republicans had Scott Avedisian, who held the top job on the local slate for 18 years, Cascella observes that the party remained so focused on keeping that seat that it failed to develop a farm team.
Cascella has sought to change that. The Democrats have committee for each of the nine wards, whereas the Republicans don’t have enough interested people to fill nine committees. Last year the party revised its charter to create three district committees. Each of the committees is comprised of residents from three wards.
Cascella is also looking to involve the party in non-political community activities such as volunteering to assist with National Night Out, cemetery cleanups and food drives. In addition, he is looking to institute scholarships for a male and female high school senior.
Cascella is buoyed by the response to the Warwick GOP Facebook page, which has grown to 459 members. He said the party has 25 to 30 active members.
As for Trump’s refusal to concede the election, Cascella said as president, “he has a duty to get to the bottom of what he sees as illegal. He has every right to stand up for democracy.”
Looking ahead to local changes, he said, “the fact that Picozzi is not a Democrat or Republican is a refreshing change for the city.”
He plans to talk to Picozzi about minority appointments to boards and commissions that are dictated by the charter. Cascella reasons as an independent, Picozzi is not representative of a political party whereas, even though they don’t hold any elective posts, the Republicans are.
Cascella said he attempted to talk with Mayor Joseph Solomon on two occasions about filling designated minority slots on boards and commissions with Republican nominees. He later crossed paths with the mayor and mentioned the issue, “but we never got a chance to meet.”
He said he would continue efforts to involve Republicans in city government.
“If we’re able to get two to four seats it would change the chemistry of the council,” he said.
“What’s next for the GOP?” he asks rhetorically.
His vision is to involve Republicans in the community and not just “to beat up on Democrats every two years.”