By ALEX MALM
For the first time as best can be determined in the city's history the mayoral race will go uncontested. The only candidate on the November ballot will be Mayor Frank Picozzi …
By ALEX MALM
For the first time as best can be determined in the city's history the mayoral race will go uncontested. The only candidate on the November ballot will be Mayor Frank Picozzi assuming that his drive-by campaign to be held at his home at 75 Gristmill Road this evening from 5:30 to 7:30 collects the signatures of 200 registered Warwick voters is successful.
It didn't look like Picozzi would notch another first to being mayor - he's the first independent and the first mayor of Italian heritage - last Wednesday afternoon as the deadline for candidacy declarations came to a close.
With about five minutes to spare to the 4 p.m. deadline, Ernest Flagg, who ran unsuccessfully for the Ward 4 Council seat in the past, filed his candidacy as a Democrat.
But Thursday morning Flagg visited the Board of Canvassers again and withdrew from the race.
Flagg explained in a phone interview Friday his wife, who he says likes Picozzi, wasn’t sold on the idea.
“My wife gave me a hard time about it,” he said .
Flagg said that in 2020 he voted for Picozzi, however when he found out that Picozzi had multiple default judgments against him along with being in debt to the IRS for back taxes Flagg said he felt that it was a “wasted vote.”
“When I found out he had that much in debt and he didn’t disclose that went the wrong way on me,” said Flagg. “That was my vote wasted.”
Flagg said that he wouldn’t have voted for Picozzi if he knew about his full financial situation.
“I wouldn’t have voted for someone that was financially irresponsible,” said Flagg.
Asked what he thought about the Mayoral race going uncontested, Flagg said “no race should go uncontested, that's my thought.”
Despite being a candidate in the race for less than 24 hours Flagg appeared committed to running. Flagg explained that he had a fuel pump issue with the truck and when AAA went to tow the truck Flagg asked if he could get a ride to City Hall in order to submit his paperwork, which he did.
Meanwhile, as last minute dramatics were occurring Picozzi who was on vacation last week said he was home working on his deck but received texts and phone calls from other people at the Board of Canvassers filling out paperwork in order to run for office.
“I don’t get the whole political thing. I was working on my deck and I didn’t know it was such a big deal,” said Picozzi.
Democrats, Republicans make pitch
On Tuesday Sue Stenhouse, who faced off against the late Mayor Joseph Solomon in 2018 and is the current House Minority Caucus Chief of Staff, told the Beacon that she was approached by people from both sides of the aisle about making a possible run for Mayor.
While she wouldn’t give specifics, Stenhouse said she was also approached by people about making a run for Secretary of State and as recently as last week a run for Senate District 29 after Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey announced that he would be retiring.
Stenhouse said that timing is important and said she feels she is helping Rhode Islanders across the State in her current role.
After making the decision not to run, Stenhouse said she contacted Picozzi to let him know.
Last minute search
In Rhode Island if a particular race doesn’t field a candidate from a Party then the Party Chairs have the opportunity to place a candidate on the ballot.
On Thursday Paul Pence who is a candidate for Lieutenant Governor posted on Facebook that he had received calls that morning to abandon the statewide seat to instead run for Mayor.
On Wednesday night the Republican State Party voted to endorse former Gov. Don Carcieri staffer Aaron Guckian in the race.
But Pence, who was the 2018 Republican Lieutenant Governor nominee said he would rather stick with the statewide race.
“For the last 13 years, I've worked to get Republicans to fill their slate of candidates. I see my run for the RI LG position as essential to the process. ‘If I can run and work hard for election, so can you.’ We now have 80 candidates for general assembly and over 200 for local races,” said Pence in a social media post. “Since the party has endorsed a candidate with a distinctly different vision of the role of LG, I have been flooded with calls to abandon my mission and run for Warwick Mayor. Quitting would not move the party toward embracing newcomers, looking beyond resources and connections and realizing that passion and hard work means more than fundraising. Quitting would go against my promise to those candidates who have chosen to follow my lead. I expect them to work hard, no matter what the people around them say and no matter how difficult our shared journey may be.”
Picozzi on Tuesday said that in addition to being the first Italian American elected as Mayor Warwick he is also the first Mayor to go unopposed according to former Mayor Scott Avedisian.
Despite being unopposed, Picozzi is still required to collect 200 signatures in order to appear on the ballot. He said that he will be holding a signature drive at his house like he did in 2020 on Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Since he is running unopposed, Picozzi said that he was considering whether or not to put out campaign signs. He said that currently they are being stored at a building that was previously owned by his campaign treasurer Jeanne Muto-Kyle. That building has sinceW been sold and the new landlord is looking to be paid for the space.
In addition to Picozzi, Ward 2 Councilman Jeremy Rix, Ward 3 Councilman Tim Howe, Ward 6 Councilwoman Donna Travis, Council President Steve McAllister, Ward 8 Councilman Anthony Sinapi, and Ward 9 Councilman Vincent Gebhart are all running unopposed.
Other signature gathering events
In addition to Picozzi’s event the Rhode Island Political Cooperative is hosting a signature gathering event on July 10 at 12 p.m. at the Warwick Public Library.
The Rhode Island Democratic Party is hosting an event at their headquarters located at 200 Metro Center Blvd. in Warwick from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 9 and the Republicans are planning their event for July 12 at their Headquarters in the Airport Plaza.