When the votes are counted in November and a new School Committee is elected the majority of the Committee could be directly related to active school district employees or in one case an employee …
When the votes are counted in November and a new School Committee is elected the majority of the Committee could be directly related to active school district employees or in one case an employee themselves.
On the council side of the city of Warwick that is already the case.
Out of the nine members of the City Council five Council members are related in some way to active city or school department employees.
Ward 3 Councilman Tim Howe’s daughter Ashley Stone works for the Warwick Sewer Authority, Ward 4 Councilman Jim McElroy’s wife Charlee is the Principal of Sherman School, Ward 6 Councilman Donna Travis’ daughter Tina is the Branch Manager at the Norwood Library branch, and Council President Steve McAllister’s brother-in law Mike Rooney is employed with the Board of Canvassers Office. McAllister’s wife is a teacher in the Warwick school district as well.
McElroy’s daughter Kelly is also a Municipal Court Judge in Warwick whose nomination in 2019 by Mayor Joseph Solomon was a point of contention.
Ward 1 Councilman Bill Foley’s wife’s first cousin is Tourism Director Elizabeth Dunton. Foley said that isn’t the only connection.
Picozzi’s brother David is the brother-in-law of Dunton, meaning that David Picozzi’s wife Carolyn is first cousin’s with Foley’s wife. Additionally, the Mayor’s daughter is an employee with the Clerk’s Office.
Picozzi earlier this spring said that Dunton was named the Director last year.
On May 13, Picozzi responded to a Facebook comment saying “In the interest of truth and accuracy- I don’t have a sister-in-law that works for the city.”
“My brother’s sister-in-law has worked for the city for many years,” the comment reads. “She was the only one working in the Tourism Department so she was named Director last year so she could run the department. She was never given the step increase to which the Director position receives. This year she will receive it and it is not the top step. She will still be paid significantly less than her predecessors.”
Out of the five Council members with relatives within the city only two are running opposed, McElroy faces independent Mike Penta and Foley who is facing off against former East Providence City Councilor Barry Cook in the Democratic Primary. The winner is expected to take on Independent Patrick Maloney in the general election.
Senate District 29
In Senate District 29 Michael Carreiro, a Lieutenant with the Fire Department and the President of IAFF 2748 the union that represents the Warwick Firefighters, is running against Jennifer Rourke, whose husband Tom was recently hired by the City as Sanitation Supervisor.
In addition to Carreiro working for the City, his brother Nelson is a Warwick police officer. His wife is a teacher's assistant with the school district as well.
On the Republican side, Anthony Deluca is currently employed with the Warwick Water Department.
In the School Committee races School Committee candidate Leah Hazelwood who is a teacher assistant at Pilgrim High School says she would resign if she wins her race.
Human Resources Director Kim Ruggieri said “There is no Warwick Public School Policy as we do not qualify individuals for eligibility to run for office.”
“We encourage any employees considering running for office to notify the City Solicitor of the City of Warwick,” said Ruggieri.
On the question of what happens if an employee wins a seat on the School Committee Ruggieri referred to the City Solicitor.
“As I said before, that is a question for the City Solicitor as to the eligibility of candidates to hold run for and hold an elected position,” Ruggieri said in an email.” There is no WPS policy and this is a novel circumstance.”
City Solicitor Mike Ursillo said the issue was researched in May after School Committee attorney Andrew Henneous made an inquiry to the solicitor’s office.
Ursillo said that based on the City Charter and state law in his view the only municipal employees allowed to hold office in the town or city they live and work in are teachers.
Since she is a teacher's assistant Hazelwood would have to choose between the School Committee and her full-time employment, Ursillo said. If she was a teacher she would be allowed to do both under state law.
Additionally Shawn Galligan who is running in the District 1 race is the brother of Warwick Neck Principal Frank Galligan.
Galligan is facing off against Frank Brown and Tara Levasseur.
In a statement Galligan said "My brother [Mr. Frank Galligan] is the Principal at Warwick Neck Elementary School.”
“Additionally, I have two extended family members who are teachers within our school system,” said Galligan. “If elected, I do not believe the employment of these individuals would impede me from ethically performing my role or responsibilities as a school committee member."
Asked about his other relatives that work for the District Galligan said that they are cousin-in-laws.
“One is a resource teacher who splits her time between two schools,” said Galligan. “The other is a 20-year employee of Warwick Public Schools; a special education teacher at Winman Middle School.”
In the District 1 race one of the candidates facing off against Galligan is William Okerholm. His daughter is a reading specialist with the District.
Former Ward 7 Councilman CJ Donovan who is running in District 3 said that his wife Julie is a health clerk at Warwick Veterans Middle School and his sister is a part time reading specialist at Hoxsie School.
In the House 22 race Republican David Stone’s wife is a teacher with the district, along with state Rep. Evan Shanley’s wife who is a teacher at Winman Middle School. Shanley is looking to defend his House District 24 seat against Independent Jonathan Martin.
In the Senate District 30 race former state Sen. Mark McKenney said that his daughter Cara Boudreau, is an art teacher at Pilgrim High School.
“I would note that one of my brothers, Paul F. McKenney, MD, an internal medicine specialist at the VA Hospital, serves on a panel of physicians that makes medical recommendations to the City’s Board of Public Safety on police/fire disability issues,” said McKenney. “He has served in that capacity for many years.”
Rules for campaigning on the clock
With numerous connections between municipal employees and those either in or running for office the question becomes what are the rules for campaigning during the work day.
“City employees should not be using City resources to engage in campaign-related activities on behalf of themselves or any other person,” said Amy Goins, who was responding on the behalf of City Solicitor Mike Ursillo. “This includes working on campaign activities while on City time and using official City email accounts or letterhead. Conducting these activities on personal time (for example, a lunch break) is acceptable, but care must be taken to document when breaks are taken in case questions arise.”
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