Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena has the knack for drawing a large crowd.
That happened again Tuesday when upwards of 100 people showed up at the Johnston Municipal Courthouse’s multi-purpose room and enjoyed Polisena’s unique hospitality.
Lt. Gov. Dan McKee and five mayors from various cities in the state, as well as business executives, law enforcement personnel, fire officials and religious leaders, were part of Tuesday’s networking session.
“This is breaking bread in an absolutely special social setting,” Richard J. DelFino Jr., long-serving chairman of the Johnston Democratic Town Committee and Municipal Court clerk, said as he welcomed Warwick Mayor Joseph Solomon.
Johnston Public Works director and longtime chef Arnie Vecchione, who prepared the luncheon with fellow staffer/chef Peter DelPonte, added, “You’ve got to give the mayor credit; he really knows how to draw a crowd.”
Polisena, who personally greeted each and every guest that walked through the downstairs room at the Municipal Courthouse on Atwood Avenue, has hosted the event periodically during his tenure as mayor.
“These luncheons are in no way intended to be political,” Polisena said while welcoming Kelly Coates, president of Johnston-based Carpianato Properties, and Kevin Millonzi, a Johnston resident and noted Rhode Island restaurateur who owns and operates Millonzi’s Bar & Grille in West Warwick and a separate catering company. “It’s a great chance for everyone to share ideas and find out what’s going on in our respective communities.”
The same sort of scenario held true for men like North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi and Joseph DeSantis, the CEO of Tri-Town Community Action Agency, which has properties in both North Providence and Johnston.
Likewise, former North Providence mayor and Lombardi’s chief of staff Dick Fossa, Lincoln’s Town Administrator Joseph Almond, Woonsocket Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung enjoyed talking about what’s going on in their respective towns and cities.
Tuesday’s attendance list also included Johnston Town Council members Robert Russo, Robert Civetti, David Santilli and Linda Folcarelli, who spent time talking with and welcoming attendees. Jim Vincent, president of the Providence NAACP; the Rev. Chris Abhulime, pastor of King’s Tabernacle Church on Greenville Avenue; State Fire Marshal Tim McLaughlin; and Rhode Island’s top two sheriffs, David DeCesare and Paul Martellini, who are both Johnston residents, were also on hand.