Richard Corrente will no longer be standing at various corners throughout the city waving to passing motorists. He may be waving, as he is friendly, but he won’t be doing it to win votes.
In a phone call Tuesday evening, Corrente declared he wouldn’t be running for office again. He was the Democratic candidate for mayor in 2014 and 2016 and lost in a primary to Joseph Solomon last year. In an interview Wednesday at his company, Bankers Mortgage Corporation at Gateway Shopping Plaza, Corrente expanded on his announcement and gave the newspaper a letter highlighting his political career and underscoring his commitment to continue to speak out on Warwick issues.
Corrente traced his interest in running for office to 2000, “when I witnessed things in Warwick go from bad to worse.” He cites annual tax increases and school department scandals, including the theft of supplies and equipment by a director and the investigation into how the department handled allegations Gorton Junior High teacher Mario Atoyian had drawn sexually explicit pictures on the arms of two female students.
“I have always been a person who fought to right a wrong. I asked myself [and others], ‘If not now, when? If not me, who?’ I decided that it had to be me to right that wrong. I decided to fight against the people in Warwick government that seemed to only care about their own agendas such as Mayor Avedisian, School Committee members Bethany Furtado, Jennifer Ahearn and Rosemary Healey, and finally Chief-of-Staff Mark Carroulo [sic],” Corrente writes.
While he never won elective office, Corrente referred to himself as the “Taxpayers’ Mayor” and in the interview and letter said his campaign spurred the City Council to trim then-Mayor Avedisian’s budget and approve a no tax increase budget.
“I ran for Mayor to promote The Corrente Plan, not the other way around. The message has always been much more important than the man. My critics, bless their relentless attacks, only helped me promote it every time they attacked part of the plan without being able to think of a better idea,” he writes.
Corrente maintains that unless the city initiates pension reforms and takes steps to keep and bring businesses that Warwick is headed for bankruptcy. He contends that Avedisian gave away too much to Warwick firefighters and didn’t clarify contract revisions that are now being contested.
Although they were opponents in the 2018 Democratic primary, Corrente is complimentary of Mayor Solomon for applying himself to the job and his emphasis on business.
“Joe Solomon hasn’t taken a day off,” Corrente said.
He is also complimentary of his appointments, starting with the selection of City Planner William DePasquale as his chief of staff.
But they’re not all bouquets for Solomon.
He questions how the assessed valuation on property Solomon bought 29 years ago can be less today than what he paid for it.
Corrente said he had the backing of the non-political voter.
“They all vote for me. If you were a political insider you hate me. There’s no middle ground,” he said.
One of his most rewarding experiences on the campaign trail was last July when he took a break from the heat of the day to walk the shoreline at Oakland Beach and smoke a cigar. He said he encountered a man who said he was living out of his van. They talked, and Corrente didn’t think much of it until primary day when he was standing outside the polls in the rain. The same man saw him and made a point of saying he and his wife had just voted for him. They hugged.
As for what lesson he would take from campaigning, Corrente said, “I learned that there are people who care about the taxpayer and people who care for the political insiders.”
From his description, Corrente is an outsider. He said he was told he could not attend Democratic City Committee meetings, as he was not an elected official or a member of a ward committee.
Corrente feels the outcomes to his bid for office would have been different had there been a better voter turnout. “I’d like to see a law that everyone is required to vote,” he said. He said voting is not simply a “right, it’s an obligation.”
“The budget hearings of 2017 were the absolute best days of my campaign,” Corrente writes. “Avedisian tried to get the City Council to rubber-stamp 29 new tax-increasing amendments just like always. But this courageous council had heard loud and clear from MY taxpayers and the message was “Cut Taxes – Cut Spending” and this Council told Avedisian “No!” for the first time this century. In fact, they said “No!” 29 times in a row, and each vote was unanimous!”
Corrente ends his letter with a “happy Valentines,” and “Dr. Patch Adams has said, ‘The most radical act a person can commit is to be happy.’ I’ve decided to leave politics. My campaign and its conclusion make me “happy.” I applaud those who are in the new and improved Warwick government. Their efforts should make the word ‘happy’ something we hear more often.”