Introducing Johnston's new Mayor Joseph Polisena

From father to son, Joe Jr. takes oath of office


A standing room-only crowd estimated at more than 450 people packed the Johnston High School auditorium to see long-time Mayor Joseph Polisena pass the town’s leadership torch to his son, Joseph Michael Polisena Jr.

Much like Johnston’s unprecedented economic development during recent years, Monday night’s Mayoral Inauguration was what many attendees agreed was one of the most impressive ceremonies in town history.

From the time Mayor Joseph Polisena Sr. began his quick wit and fun filled role as Master of Ceremonies, Inauguration 2023 will long be remembered for its many milestones, standing ovations, on-going applause, a special show of love for Johnston, music from Johnston High School’s national award-winning concert band and talented vocalists of the Treble Choir.

The processional line of march — which was preceded by Bagpiper Chief Robert Bradley, leading Johnston’s new first family, Mayor Joseph Michael Polisena Jr. his wife Samantha Polisena and Joseph Michael Polisena III — included four dozen dignitaries who were seated on stage for the lively program that was a showcase of what many people called “Johnston Pride at an all-time high.”

From the time Rev. Peter J. Gower delivered a moving invocation until Johnston Police and Fire Department Color Guards retired the colors, the night was a “Who’s Who in Rhode Island” as people joined together to usher in the Joseph Michael Polisena Jr. era out of respect for what RI Senate President Dominick J. Ruggiero assessed was “his father’s tenure as a dedicated distinguished public servant.”

The night was also filled with history, as Mayor Polisena Sr. administered a moving and heart-warming Oath of Office to his beloved son Joseph Michael Polisena Jr. that ended with a love-filled hug and embrace.

Almost as soon as he finished the swearing in, which marked the first time in the state’s history a father swore in his son, the standing room-only crowd sent applause and cheers echoing throughout the auditorium.

Polisena Jr. then stepped to the lectern and issued a heart-felt “thank you” and began his first-ever mayoral address.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I stand before you tonight with a mandate. Not a mandate for myself, a last name of any particular individual but a mandate for a message that is clear, it’s concise, it’s essential. It’s a message I ran on and a message I will govern on: stable taxes, good public education, effective public safety and efficient town services.”

He then paused before adding: “These issues, they serve as the bedrock foundation for any government.”

After elaborating on numerous subjects, Mayor Polisena Jr. concluded: “With efficient town services and infrastructure you don’t have to worry about a flooded house, a decrepit road or snow filled street jeopardizing your public safety. That is the real foundation of prosperity. And with a solid foundation, our great American experiment, the greatest creation we’ve ever been given – will never fail.”

The speaking program also included U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha, who heaped words of praise upon Polisena Jr. and toasted Polisena Sr. for “transforming Johnston into one of the most thriving, no tax increase and on-going economic development in the state.”

As several speakers related, “this transfer of power from father to son just doesn’t happen and that’s what make tonight so special.”

It was special for Mark A. Vieira, who was promoted to Police Chief, and Matthew G. Leduc as Deputy Chief. Likewise, David Iannuccilli was named Johnston Fire Chief with Richard K. Boehm as Assistant Chief.

Robert V. Russo was re-elected Town Council President and Lauren Garzone moved into the vice president’s post which was occupied by Polisena Jr., who is succeeded by Al Carnevale who took his fist-ever Oath of Office. Town Council was rounded out by veteran members Robert Civetti and Linda Folacrelli.

Former Johnston Housing Director David aRusso was named Municipal Court Judge. Frank Manni was appointed Auxiliary Municipal Court Judge. And Priscilla Facha DiMaio was appointed Johnston’s Probate Court Judge.

Vince Baccari was once again sworn-in as Johnston’s Town Clerk.

Perhaps Russo, who recanted 20 major milestones that took place during Mayor Polisena’s highly successful tenure, said it best about Inauguration 2023.

“This is a great night,” Russo began. “How proud must it be to transfer the reins of government to your child — Joe and Lucy congratulations you have created a legacy of public service to our community.”

Russo, who issued thanks to the entire town, emphasized that being an elected officials is no easy task. He then turned to Polisena Jr. saying: “Joe Jr. I wish you all the luck and good will in taking on your new job. To our family I thank you, as well as our own families — for sacrificing every day in allowing us to be Public Servants.”

The veteran Town Council President then offered: “Joe, I know one person that is extremely proud tonight and that is Grandma Julie looking on you from heaven.”

Russo also declared: “Our new mayor will continue to bring Johnston forward with new energy, new ideas and a focus on increasing the quality of life of our residents.”


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