Four line up to challenge Avedisian


What was forecast as a subdued local election year only a week ago may not be all that lacking in drama after all.

From declaration papers filed as of yesterday’s 4 p.m. deadline, it appears there will be not only a Democratic primary for mayor, but one for Republican, too, as well as a three-way race on the November ballot.

Kevin Eisemann, 42, Bolster Ave., who ran for the post 20 years ago, filed as an independent yesterday morning. Eisemann, a self-employed carpenter, said he is ready to make another run.

Stacia Petri, 42, of 57 Stiness Drive stunned onlookers at the Board of Canvassers yesterday when at 3:20 p.m. she filed for mayor as a Republican. There had been no hint that Mayor Scott Avedisian would face a Republican challenger.

But apparently Petri has been planning, for when she was reached last night she was holding a fundraising dinner.

“I’m running for mayor because we’re in the red and we’re seeing red. We need someone in office who will draw the line on taxes. I’ve been a Warwick homeowner since 2006, and the constant increases in taxes and other costs is unacceptable. We continue to watch the urban decay spread in Warwick and it needs to stop. I believe I can help,” she said.

A three-way race is also shaping up in Ward 3, and it appears incumbent Ward 7 Councilman Charles Donovan Jr. faces a Democratic primary with Kathleen Usler. Incumbent Thomas Chadronet in Ward 2 faces a challenge from Michael Zarum for the Democratic nomination. The winner of that primary will be uncontested in the November election.

A Democratic primary is also in the offing in House District 22 because incumbent Frank Ferri is running for lieutenant governor. Joseph Solomon Jr., the son of Ward 4 Councilman Joseph Solomon, and a newcomer, Jennifer Siciliano, have declared for the seat. The winner will face Ralph Leone, who is running as a Republican.

In Ward 1, the only Republican held seat on the Council, former School Committee member Patrick Maloney and Don Fife, a regular at Council meetings, are looking for the Democratic nomination to challenge Steven Colantuono.

In Ward 3, incumbent Democrat Camille Vella-Wilkinson is facing a challenge from Michael Izzo, who filed as a Republican and Harold Ouimette, running as an independent. By yesterday afternoon, a three-way Republican primary was in the offing as John Falkowski and Henry T. Williams Jr. declared.

Three incumbent council members, Joseph Solomon (D-Ward 4), Donna Travis (D-Ward 6) and Steve Merolla (D-Ward 9) are running uncontested.

At 3:30, the board of canvassers was packed with last minute entries for offices. The room was hot and so was the competition. Politicians and new runners alike shared smiles as they waited to see or hear about their competition for the upcoming elections.

At the 4 p.m. declaration deadline, council members were congratulating each other if they had no one to run against and apologies to those who did. Not to mention there was a little gossip about who was and wasn’t running.

Everyone anxiously awaited the final lists, but with computer problems rampant throughout the office all day the lists were a long time coming. The program wasn’t working, then the printer, but those who stayed and waited for a final copy excitedly discussed the elections and how they may campaign.

In the race for the Democratic nomination for mayor, both Carel Bainum and John “Jack” Kirby have declared. Incumbent Scott Avedisian, looking to win his ninth term in office, filed his declaration papers with the Board of Canvassers first thing Monday morning. Avedisian said he is looking to carry forward with initiatives started during his administration and would have a series of announcements building toward the November election.

This will be Kirby’s fourth run for the office. Two years ago he ran as an independent. Prior to that he ran as a Democrat, capturing his greatest segment of the vote, about 25 percent, in his first run.

Kirby, who operates his own construction company that does sewer connections and pipe work, is running without the party’s endorsement. The Democratic City Committee did not endorse a candidate for mayor last Wednesday. Kirby wasn’t surprised.

“I’m not an insider,” he said.

Asked about his campaign, Kirby said, “‘Taxes’ is the big thing.” He also said the city should be fighting for more money from the airport. He is opposed to the mayor’s plan for a charter school because it “would be taking funds from our schools.”

Bainum identified taxes as the reason she’s running. She said they have consistently risen during Avedisian’s administration.

“If Cranston can do it [hold tax increases], why not Warwick?” she asked. “We definitely need a change.”

This is Bainum’s first bid for elective office. Nonetheless, she is no stranger to the community. Bainum – Carel Callahan by her first marriage – has been a longtime advocate for animals and first gained public attention in the 1970s, when she opened a dog motel in Oakland Beach. She made headlines again when she was named the city’s animal control supervisor, a post she held for less than a year before being terminated for refusing to bend on her rule requiring pet owners to take responsibility for pets left at the shelter. She appealed the police chief’s action and the Board of Public Safety agreed to reverse the ruling, on condition that she resign.

Dogs will have a place in her current campaign. She proposes a swimming place for dogs at City Park, similar in design to what she found in Tampa, Fla. The area would be fenced off so people could let their dogs off leash to run into the water.

Bainum, 66, grew up in Warwick and graduated from Veterans High School. She has a 30-year career in real estate and at one time owned 12 houses here and in Oregon. She had had numerous brushes with the city’s minimum housing division, most notably over a burned house in Conimicut that she hoped to make a spay and neuter clinic for dogs and include a chapel for bereaved pet owners. She lost that property to foreclosure.

More recently, she is embroiled in a lawsuit brought by a woman who claims she stole $113,000 from her father, now deceased. Bainum says she can show she regularly borrowed money from the man and has a history of repaying. She acknowledges she owes the $113,000 and would repay it to the man’s grandchildren. However, she said, she continues to fight for a trial in an effort to clear her name and avoid paying the $80,000 in legal fees the woman’s attorney is seeking to collect.

Bainum has planned a “meet and greet” event for July 13, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Islander Restaurant. The charge will be $9.

“I’ll be talking about Warwick and what we can do. We have to take back Warwick from the politicians,” she said.

With reports from Tim Forsberg and Kelcy Dolan.

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