On Monday, January 7 at the Michael Traficante Enrichment Center, City Council, School Committee, Municipal Judges and other appointed officials all took their oath of office to serve Cranston. Director of the Center Jeffrey Barone acted as master of ceremonies and gave the welcoming remarks.
The Cranston Fire Department provided the escorts of the officials, while members of the Cranston East Chamber Orchestra played. Michael and Isabella Farina, Aidan and Sophia Paplauskas, Christian Vargas and JJ Ortega led the room in the Pledge of Allegiance. Followed by the Cranston West Chamber Choir singing the National Anthem.
Father William Ledoux from St. Mary's Church gave both the invocation and benediction.
Barone introduced Cranston Mayor Allan Fung to bring greetings from the city. He started by acknowledging this would be last official inauguration as Mayor. He then went on to recognize and welcome all the local, state and other cities and towns officials who were in attendance.
"This is a special night where you are joining a body that will leave a lasting imprint on our great city for generations to come. Cranston has come a long way from when many of us took office years ago and we are being recognized nationally on a continuous basis. We’ve achieved this success thanks to hard working men and women in every department striving for the best for our residents," he said.
He went on to read an impressive and extensive list of all the reasons why Cranston is consistently named one of the best places to live in the United States.
"We are the best place to live for a number of reasons. Let’s work together to continue on this path where our city grows responsibly; we carefully guard our finances; and, most importantly, take care of our residents," he said.
A recurring theme throughout all the addresses was the call to put aside party labels and work together. Fung reminded elected officials their actions would be felt in the future.
"You will be tasked with reviewing many issues that will impact our city for years to come. All in all the decisions you make will impact residents day-in and day-out for years to come," he said.
Recently reelected Representative and Speaker of the House, Democrat, Nicholas Mattiello gave greetings from the State House.
"We are in a time of optimism, it is also a time to reflect. A time to make plans for a very productive and prosperous successful year," he said.
Mattiello went on to praise all the leadership in the city, as well as the school, police and fire departments.
“We have a tremendous quality of life. And, as we move forward, I ask everyone being sworn in this evening to continue that tradition of greatness," he said.
Mattiello also touched on the divisiveness that is rampant in local and national political parties.
"There is a lack of decorum, a lack of communication. We have to collaborate, use the skills the law has bestowed upon us," he said.
He encouraged the officials to be inclusive, to listen to all sides and be open to different opinions.
City Clerk Maria Wall read the Certificate of Election to the 2019-2021 Council members. House Speaker Mattiello administered the Oath of Office.
The City Council is comprised of Ward 1 Democrat Lammis Vargas; Ward 2 Democrat, Paul McAuley; Ward 3 Democrat John Donegan; Ward 4 Republican, Edward Brady; Ward 5 Republican, Chris Paplauskas; Ward 6 Republican Michael Favicchio; Citywide Democrat, Steve Stycos and Citywide Republicans Michael Farina and Ken Hopkins.
Mayor Fung then administered the Oath of Office to the School Committee members. The non-partisan members are; from Ward 1 Sara K. Tindall-Woodman; Ward 2 Stephanie A. Giangrande Culhane; Ward 3, Paul H. Archetto; Ward 4 Vincent L. Turchetta; Ward 5 Janice Ruggieri; Ward 6 Daniel R. Wall and Citywide, Michael A. Traficante.
Following all inaugurations, re-elected Citywide Council President Farina addressed the audience.
"I am humbled and honored to once again be chosen to serve as President of the Cranston City Council. I want to thank my peers who have put their faith in me to continue to lead this body. My whole life has been in and about Cranston. After I graduated college, I chose to return to Cranston, return to my roots, return to my home. My family lives in Cranston, my children attend Cranston public schools, our church is in Cranston and my wife works at Glen Hills School. I love Cranston and everything we stand for. I will not squander this gift you have given me, and I will always act in the best interests of our city. I pledge to you that I will work to the best of my abilities to show your trust in my abilities in not misplaced," he said.
Farina also commented on the national recognition Cranston has received.
"We have made great strides in Cranston making it one of the greatest cities to live in Rhode Island. Not once, not twice, but several times throughout my service. We achieved historic pension reform by partnering with our labor unions. Cranston’s bond rating was improved by ensuring financial stability which lead to an increased cumulative surplus. New businesses moved into Cranston, adding more jobs and increasing the tax base. We advocated for our schools by adding funding for sports, education, resource officers and social workers. We increased public safety by adding new vehicles, equipment and new personnel to protect us. We supported our veterans through increased tax exemptions. We worked to improve our infrastructure and continue to improve our award-winning library system but, most of all, we moved Cranston forward," he said.
Recognizing the need and importance of collaboration, Farina spoke to that issue.
"Success didn’t happen overnight and it included much more than the elected officials on this stage. Success was achieved through the City Council’s hard work and through collaboration with our State Representative’s, State Senators, School Committee all under the leadership of Mayor Fung. We all didn’t always agree but we worked together and fought for the common good of Cranston. I personally learned about compromise and being open to new and different ideas. I have grown as a man, a person and a leader," he said.
Farina spoke of what he hopes Cranston becomes.
"The City Council is a depiction of all Cranston, across all six wards and we all need to come together to support ONE Cranston and eliminate division. Cranston is on the precipice of some of its greatest times ahead with new business development and the prospect of newly designed schools. This is all intended to cement Cranston in the 21st century. Moving forward, I am excited to see the changes that lie ahead, and I hope that we can continue to make Cranston the best place to live, not only in Rhode Island but the best place to live in the United States," he said.
He also thanked not only his family, wife, children and father, but all the families of the other elected officials.
"Serving the city is a real time commitment and a sacrifice that few understand more than our families. We spend countless hours serving the city and away from home. I truly thank you for allowing us to do this and I know none of us would be here without the love and support of our families. To my children, Daddy loves you, and to my wife, thank you for being my partner and truly my better half, and to my Dad, thank you for being on this journey with me," he said.
Farina spoke words of integrity and the role of public office.
"Public service must be more than doing a job efficiently and honestly. It must be a complete dedication to the people with full recognition that every human being is entitled to courtesy and consideration, that constructive criticism is not only to be expected but sought, that smears are not only to be expected but fought, that honor is to be earned, not bought," he said.
The City Council elected their vice president as well as the appointment of council majority and minority leaders.
Mayor Fung administered the Oath of Office to the municipal, probate and auxiliary judges. Chief Municipal Court Judge Matthew Smith, Senior Associate Judge Raymond C. Coia, Associate Judges Frank Saccoccio, Michael Forte, Jr., Robert A. Ragosta, Melissa Larsen and Auxiliary Judge Douglas Smith, while George Cappello was sworn in as Probate Judge.
The final piece of official work for the evening was the swearing-in of City Clerk Maria Wall, City Registrar Nick Lima and Legal Counsel Evan Kirshenbaum, Council Auditor/Budget Analyst, David DiMeo and Grant Writer, Lisa Kirshenbaum.
Following the benediction, guests were treated to refreshments provided by the Enrichment Center.
For information on any elected or appointed official visit www.cranstonri.com.