Citizens' pizza puts topping on Democratic networking event

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There’s an old saying – an adage perhaps – that reads like this: “Never go to the party empty-handed!”

There were two classic examples of that theory last Thursday at the Johnston Democratic Town Committee-Mayor Joseph Polisena Campaign Headquarters located inside Commerce Way Center off Atwood Avenue.

Sometime around 11:45 a.m. seven Citizens Bank officials – headed by Executive Vice President/Head of Properties Mike Knipper – showed up bearing large boxes.

“We brought pizza for everyone to enjoy,” Knipper, who has become a popular figure at many events in Johnston, said. “They were made in the ovens at our new [Citizens Bank] mega-campus off Greenville Avenue. We hope everyone enjoys the pizza.”

Many of the 137 people who turned out for Mayor Polisena’s unique networking and non-political networking luncheon offered a “thumbs up” rating to the pizzas with a variety of toppings.

“Pretty good, Mike!” offered Arnie Vecchione, who along with Peter DelPonte and Richard DelFino Jr. are noted for their culinary skills. “Ah, did you make the pizza yourself?”

Vecchione, who serves as Johnston’s Director of Public Works, chuckled as did Knipper as they joined other luncheon goers who enjoyed and raved about the day’s menu that included a garden salad with secret recipe dressing, sliced and tender oven-cooked chicken and a rather tasty pasta salad that DelPonte prepared especially for last Thursday’s luncheon.

The attendees included professional people like the state’s two top ranking sheriffs – David DeCesare and Paul Martellini – who are also Johnston residents to fire and law enforcement officials and local business owners like Anthony Mancini whose family has downed and operated Mancini's Service Center on Hartford Avenue since 1940.

“This is not – I repeat – a political party,” Polisena said while talking with Providence NAACP President Jim Vincent and John Gregory of the Northern RI Chamber of Commerce, just to name a few people. “It’s a chance to get together in a social setting, break bread and talk about what’s going on in our respective communities.”

There was yet another interesting surprise during the luncheon and that came courtesy of Ken DeQuattro and Erik Wallin, the two top ranking officials of Johnston-based Operation Stand Down.

DeQuattro, the award-winning veterans organization president and Wallin, Executive Director/Legal Counsel, were armed with a colorful and classy plaque they presented to Polisena for his ongoing support of the organization.

The plaque, which included Operation Stand Down’s impressive logo, read: “In grateful appreciation to Mayor Joseph M. Polisena for your support of Operation Stand Down and mission to assist local veterans in need.”

Although the mood was totally upbeat during the networking luncheon, Polisena was “deeply touched” and thanked DeQuattro and Wallin for “this tremendous honor” and as the Mayor has said time and again: “I’m honored to Operation Stand Down based in our great town. It’s an extremely important organization that continues to help our veterans.” 

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