Campaigning down to the wire

Warwick Beacon ·

With their campaigns coming down to today’s vote, candidates for mayor spent the weekend making final adjustments to cover the polls and attending events such as the Pilgrim football game that was played Sunday and Saturday’s candidates fair at Wethersfield Commons.

But things don’t always work out as planned. Mayor Joseph Solomon discovered that Saturday.

Republican Sue Stenhouse looked to strengthen her base in Wards 1 and 9. She spent part of Saturday going door-to-door to meet voters in Cowesett and working with her campaign staff to ensure all the polling locations are covered today. She said many of her supporters are not seasoned campaign workers and had given no thought to having a representative of the candidate at the polls.

Solomon had a schedule of appearances Saturday that were hastily put aside when a vehicle snapped a utility pole on Jefferson Boulevard at about 5:30 a.m., cutting power to much of the area and forcing closure of that section of the boulevard at the entrance to Wethersfield Commons for the morning. Solomon said he was on site to help coordinate the recovery effort between city crews and National Grid.

Solomon said Saturday as he joined other candidates for a first ever candidates fair at Wethersfield that the accident and its subsequent disruption of traffic is symptomatic of the mayor’s job.

“It’s not 9 to 5, it’s 24/7 without vacations,” he said.

Since assuming the role of mayor in May, Solomon said he’s found the job so much more multi-faceted than he imagined. As a councilman and in his role as council president, Solomon was accustomed to dealing with constituent issues such as potholes and complaints over missed trash collections or neighborhood speeding as well as legislation and the city budget. Now he’s got that plus representing the city at various events such as the diabetes fair at Warwick Mall on Saturday and, of course, the unexpected like the closure of Jefferson Boulevard. He says he gets the most enjoyment out of the interaction with people and attending events at the Pilgrim Senior Center or in the schools.

On Sunday Solomon and Rep. Camille Vella-Wilkinson co-hosted a “get out the vote” Democratic rally at the William Shields Post. The turnout and opportunity to rev up the Democratic faithful that included statewide candidates was impressive reported School Committee District 2 candidate Judith Cobden.

Stenhouse has been out and about, too. She’s a regular visitor at the Warwick Rotary Club luncheon meetings and at gatherings around town. She’s encouraged by the feedback she’s received to her message that she is looking to build bridges and bring constituencies together to resolve issues and plan for Warwick’s future. She has been consistent in her criticism of Solomon for having done little during his 18 years on the council and for having done nothing to address the major issues of school funding, the future of the city annex and firefighter pay for unused sick time since taking office. She has also countered Solomon’s efforts to lay the blame of budget woes on former Mayor Scott Avedisian.

At Saturday’s candidates fair, Stenhouse talked a bit about her passion for public service and what she would bring to the city as mayor. But she also brought goodies to the event – sugar cookies and brownies she had ordered from the culinary arts program at the Warwick Area Career and Technical Center. They made for good talking points as she informed Wethersfield residents they had been baked by students who also run the Tides Restaurant on the Toll Gate Campus. Indeed, not only Solomon and Stenhouse asked people for their vote and passed out campaign literature but so, too, did school, council and state candidates invited to participate. But more than anything, it was a meet and greet.

Several residents were asked whether the fair had helped them decide who they would vote for. Some, like Arthur Cunha, had already made up their minds. He’s voting for Solomon. But others were undecided, confessing, “I like them both.”

Today they will make a choice.

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