Four line up to challenge Avedisian

Posted 6/25/14

What was forecast as a subdued local election year only a week ago may not be all that lacking in drama after all.

From declaration papers filed as of yesterday’s 4 p.m. deadline, it appears …

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Four line up to challenge Avedisian


What was forecast as a subdued local election year only a week ago may not be all that lacking in drama after all.

From declaration papers filed as of yesterday’s 4 p.m. deadline, it appears there will be not only a Democratic primary for mayor, but one for Republican, too, as well as a three-way race on the November ballot.

Kevin Eisemann, 42, Bolster Ave., who ran for the post 20 years ago, filed as an independent yesterday morning. Eisemann, a self-employed carpenter, said he is ready to make another run.

Stacia Petri, 42, of 57 Stiness Drive stunned onlookers at the Board of Canvassers yesterday when at 3:20 p.m. she filed for mayor as a Republican. There had been no hint that Mayor Scott Avedisian would face a Republican challenger.

But apparently Petri has been planning, for when she was reached last night she was holding a fundraising dinner.

“I’m running for mayor because we’re in the red and we’re seeing red. We need someone in office who will draw the line on taxes. I’ve been a Warwick homeowner since 2006, and the constant increases in taxes and other costs is unacceptable. We continue to watch the urban decay spread in Warwick and it needs to stop. I believe I can help,” she said.

A three-way race is also shaping up in Ward 3, and it appears incumbent Ward 7 Councilman Charles Donovan Jr. faces a Democratic primary with Kathleen Usler. Incumbent Thomas Chadronet in Ward 2 faces a challenge from Michael Zarum for the Democratic nomination. The winner of that primary will be uncontested in the November election.

A Democratic primary is also in the offing in House District 22 because incumbent Frank Ferri is running for lieutenant governor. Joseph Solomon Jr., the son of Ward 4 Councilman Joseph Solomon, and a newcomer, Jennifer Siciliano, have declared for the seat. The winner will face Ralph Leone, who is running as a Republican.

In Ward 1, the only Republican held seat on the Council, former School Committee member Patrick Maloney and Don Fife, a regular at Council meetings, are looking for the Democratic nomination to challenge Steven Colantuono.

In Ward 3, incumbent Democrat Camille Vella-Wilkinson is facing a challenge from Michael Izzo, who filed as a Republican and Harold Ouimette, running as an independent. By yesterday afternoon, a three-way Republican primary was in the offing as John Falkowski and Henry T. Williams Jr. declared.

Three incumbent council members, Joseph Solomon (D-Ward 4), Donna Travis (D-Ward 6) and Steve Merolla (D-Ward 9) are running uncontested.

At 3:30, the board of canvassers was packed with last minute entries for offices. The room was hot and so was the competition. Politicians and new runners alike shared smiles as they waited to see or hear about their competition for the upcoming elections.

At the 4 p.m. declaration deadline, council members were congratulating each other if they had no one to run against and apologies to those who did. Not to mention there was a little gossip about who was and wasn’t running.

Everyone anxiously awaited the final lists, but with computer problems rampant throughout the office all day the lists were a long time coming. The program wasn’t working, then the printer, but those who stayed and waited for a final copy excitedly discussed the elections and how they may campaign.

In the race for the Democratic nomination for mayor, both Carel Bainum and John “Jack” Kirby have declared. Incumbent Scott Avedisian, looking to win his ninth term in office, filed his declaration papers with the Board of Canvassers first thing Monday morning. Avedisian said he is looking to carry forward with initiatives started during his administration and would have a series of announcements building toward the November election.

This will be Kirby’s fourth run for the office. Two years ago he ran as an independent. Prior to that he ran as a Democrat, capturing his greatest segment of the vote, about 25 percent, in his first run.

Kirby, who operates his own construction company that does sewer connections and pipe work, is running without the party’s endorsement. The Democratic City Committee did not endorse a candidate for mayor last Wednesday. Kirby wasn’t surprised.

“I’m not an insider,” he said.

Asked about his campaign, Kirby said, “‘Taxes’ is the big thing.” He also said the city should be fighting for more money from the airport. He is opposed to the mayor’s plan for a charter school because it “would be taking funds from our schools.”

Bainum identified taxes as the reason she’s running. She said they have consistently risen during Avedisian’s administration.

“If Cranston can do it [hold tax increases], why not Warwick?” she asked. “We definitely need a change.”

This is Bainum’s first bid for elective office. Nonetheless, she is no stranger to the community. Bainum – Carel Callahan by her first marriage – has been a longtime advocate for animals and first gained public attention in the 1970s, when she opened a dog motel in Oakland Beach. She made headlines again when she was named the city’s animal control supervisor, a post she held for less than a year before being terminated for refusing to bend on her rule requiring pet owners to take responsibility for pets left at the shelter. She appealed the police chief’s action and the Board of Public Safety agreed to reverse the ruling, on condition that she resign.

Dogs will have a place in her current campaign. She proposes a swimming place for dogs at City Park, similar in design to what she found in Tampa, Fla. The area would be fenced off so people could let their dogs off leash to run into the water.

Bainum, 66, grew up in Warwick and graduated from Veterans High School. She has a 30-year career in real estate and at one time owned 12 houses here and in Oregon. She had had numerous brushes with the city’s minimum housing division, most notably over a burned house in Conimicut that she hoped to make a spay and neuter clinic for dogs and include a chapel for bereaved pet owners. She lost that property to foreclosure.

More recently, she is embroiled in a lawsuit brought by a woman who claims she stole $113,000 from her father, now deceased. Bainum says she can show she regularly borrowed money from the man and has a history of repaying. She acknowledges she owes the $113,000 and would repay it to the man’s grandchildren. However, she said, she continues to fight for a trial in an effort to clear her name and avoid paying the $80,000 in legal fees the woman’s attorney is seeking to collect.

Bainum has planned a “meet and greet” event for July 13, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Islander Restaurant. The charge will be $9.

“I’ll be talking about Warwick and what we can do. We have to take back Warwick from the politicians,” she said.

With reports from Tim Forsberg and Kelcy Dolan.


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  • Reality

    Good Luck great to see a candidate with your credentials finally take on Avedisian.....Stacia kindly stick to the issues and you will expose the mismanagement of city hall since Scottie has been in office.

    Hopefully you have the Mayor expose why we have had these constant tax increases, school buildings in disrepair and runaway pension costs. pull off the miracle everyone is hoping for.

    Thursday, June 26, 2014 Report this

  • wwkvoter

    Avedisian is competent and experienced, but not strong enough against corruption and malfeasance. So I will at least listen to some of the other candidates.

    Friday, June 27, 2014 Report this

  • Details172

    Which candidate is going to have the cojones to close a school which is inevitable down the road? Oh wait...the assistant to the assistant of the new 90k a year math coach needs a raise too. But the lunch lady making $11 an hr is the problem.

    Saturday, June 28, 2014 Report this

  • Scal1024

    The mayor has had an easy time winning re-election in the past...especially when there is no one in the race to really challenge him. I am happy to see a fresh face (Stacia Petri) come forward and challenge this mayor. For years Scott Avedisian has told us what great shape Warwick was in...even as he raised taxes, handed out favorable contracts to city employees, ignored the city's unfunded pension liability, watched our schools crumble and close, not to mention our general fund shrinking.

    Anyone should have a right to throw their name in the ring...but they should also do so as serious candidates. Jack Kirby has had a few kicks at this can before, and has never shown the ability to gain traction or debate serious policy. As for Ms. Bainum I do not believe her candidacy should be taken seriously. Whether she stole or borrowed $113,000 I think there's something to be said for someone who continually relies on others to get by. I commend her for her work on animal rights, however, this is a serious race for serious candidates and the democratic party of Warwick ought to be ashamed of itself. This is what they've come up with? They have FAILED!!!

    The democratic primary for governor will drive democrats and independents to turn out in big numbers in September. That means a smaller turnout in the republican primary could produce an upset in the mayoral race. The last few election cycles the mayor had an easy time dismissing Richard Langseth and Jack Kirby (with a lot of help from the Beacon) as beneath him. I'd like to see what he does when he has a REAL fiscal conservative next to him debating policy. The mayor is in trouble and he knows it, even he can't defend the way this city and our schools are currently being run. I believe he knows this is his toughest challenge because in all honestly this will be his only challenge. It's only a matter of time before John Howell (mouthpiece of the Avedisian campaign) and the mayors team start their opposition research. Something tells me this time...the taxpayers won't buy it!!!

    Sunday, June 29, 2014 Report this


    the mayor will get his 70% of the vote when it all said and done. watch out wd-2

    Sunday, June 29, 2014 Report this

  • Unionthug

    Scal1024, what employee contract was given out this year and was generous? I haven't had a raise in more than three years and my healthcare just went up again this year. Increases healthcare, increased pension, no raise. Not complaining, but stop saying my pay is generous.

    Monday, June 30, 2014 Report this

  • Scal1024

    I never said this year a favorable contract was handed out, i said for years they have been handed out. Health care increases hit any employer based plan, increased pensions have also hit other public and private sector employees. This notion that city of Warwick employees should not endure the same type of sacrifices as other public and private employees is laughable. I commend you for what you do for this city, but the statement you made is part of the problem. What generous contract was handed out this year? Well if the last 4 or 5 contracts were in your favor, and the last one wasn't...i'd say you made out pretty well. If you are a new hire then you can thank the mayor for that. The "pension reform" for new hires ought to insult you, because it trims your benefits while doing nothing to fix the overall problem.

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014 Report this

  • RichardLangseth

    When I ran for mayor, John Howell did not give the current mayor a free ride. When the mayor refused to debate me -- which he will probably do again this primary campaign, publisher Howell put a "paper debate" on Page One of the Beacon. John always publishes letters to the editor that are reasonable -- even if they attack the mayor.

    Wednesday, July 2, 2014 Report this

  • Scal1024

    John Howell may put out an occasional story that doesn't cast the mayor in a good light, but how many fluff pieces has he put out in the last few months? The most embarrassing piece I can think of was the beginning of this year when our schools were debating consolidation. Mr. Howell put out a review of the good and bad of 2013 featuring the mayor. The mayor barely mentioned the schools at the time, now he has come out in favor of consolidation. If the mayor had the fortitude to take a stand back in December when this issue was red-hot, than perhaps it would've given the school department a little more cover to go ahead with their plan. Instead he waited and waited to take a stand, now we are more than 6 months into this circus and we still don't have a plan.

    Wednesday, July 2, 2014 Report this