Eleven months ago, Warwick voters elected an independent as mayor, the first to hold the city's top elective post in decades. Frank Picozzi was true to his chosen political label. He deliberately didn't court endorsements from unions nor from those in
Eleven months ago, Warwick voters elected an independent as mayor, the first to hold the city’s top elective post in decades.
Frank Picozzi was true to his chosen political label. He deliberately didn’t court endorsements from unions nor from those in office, although Ward 5 Councilman Ed Ladouceur broke from the Democratic ranks and backed him over incumbent Joseph Solomon.
Once in office, Picozzi refrained from using his position to enhance his chances of being reelected. He deliberately scheduled his first fundraiser at the Elks Lodge to coincide with a City Council meeting so that council members would not feel pressured to attend. He also set a $50-a-ticket price whereas he could have easily doubled the amount, if not asked for more, and gotten it.
Picozzi has been abundantly transparent – a refreshing change from prior administrations. He is accessible to the news media and produces a weekly video message that runs on the city website as well as on Facebook and on the Beacon website. The messages frequently address issues such as interruptions in the weekly collection of recyclables that don’t have immediate answers. He describes the situation, outlines what measures are being taken and asks for patience. He doesn’t make promises he can’t fulfill. It has worked.
One might say Picozzi has broken with some of the former practices of running a city. He is, after all, an independent.
That places him in a club of his own. There’s not a party of independents. There is no bench to call upon to raise funds, fill key positions or look to for guidance. Indeed, there are those he confers with and looks to for expertise. But they are not bonded by partisan agendas and alliances, as can be Democrats and Republicans.
It’s not surprising, then, that Picozzi has applied his commitment to being free of political influences to appointments to boards and commissions. His axiom is to fill a post with the best-qualified candidate for the job regardless of whether they are an unaffiliated voter or registered Democrat or Republican.
That is a good thing, as long as a candidate’s affiliation or contributions to the city as a politically appointed board member don’t rule him or her out of the running. That appears to be the process the mayor applied in filling three positions on the Zoning Board of Review.
As Alex Malm reports in this edition of the Beacon, Picozzi solicited candidates to fill these positions on Facebook, receiving more than 20 resumes. The mayor was pleased by the widespread interest in being involved in city government and impressed by their qualifications. To find so many willing to step forward and commit their time bodes well for our city.
However, we find fault that a candidate’s political affiliations and prior contributions preclude him or her from the position. Let’s not lose the good people we have.