By wide margins, the Johnston Democratic Town Committee’s endorsed slate of candidates swept three local races in Tuesday’s primary.
Town Council President Robert Russo, who represents District 4, bested challenger Kevin Millonzi by a 424-266 margin – a roughly 61-39 percent split – based on unofficial results from the state Board of Elections. With the party’s nomination, Russo has effectively won a new term, with no challenger to appear on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.
In District 5 – where incumbent Stephanie Manzi is not running for re-election – party-endorsed candidate Robert Civetti defeated Jeanette Scarcella by a 481-188 margin, or roughly 72 percent to 28 percent. Civetti also faces no opponent on the November ballot.
Joseph Rotella, who represents District 4 on the School Committee, also won the Democratic nomination, topping challenger Alexander Lucini by a 466-217 margin – a roughly 68-32 percent split. He, too, faces no opponent in the general election.
The candidates and supporters gathered at the town committee’s 1500 Place headquarters as the results came in on Tuesday night.
Mayor Joseph Polisena hailed the “resounding victories” for Russo, Rotella, and Civetti, and said the wins demonstrate that “people like what’s going on it town.”
“All of this would not be possible without all the hard work of our great Democratic Town Committee volunteers,” Polisena said. “I want to personally thank each and every person who continues to work and strengthen our great, great machine. But we can’t sit still. We’ve got another election in November, and we must continue to prepare and work hard until then.”
Russo, who works as an attorney, expressed his thanks to the voters of District 4.
“We worked hard all summer,” he said. “We had a plan and it worked well. Again, I thank the people for their continued support.”
Millonzi, who owns and operates Millonzi’s Fine Catering and Millonzi’s Restaurant, offered: “When you’re a good businessman you can do any kind of business. Politics is a business, and once I learn the tricks of the trade, I think I can win. It’s all about learning the tricks of the trade, and I learned a lot during this campaign. If I run again, I truly believe in my heart I can win.”
Rotella said it has been a “long, hard summer” of campaigning.
“I’m tired and relieved. This is thrilling,” he said. “The mayor, Bob [Russo] and I walked together and worked hard. Now we’ll get ready for November.”
Lucini, who like Millonzi was a first-time candidate, offered: “While disappointed with the results, I am extremely proud of my campaign. I think having a spirited school committee race in District 4 has brought attention and urgency of providing the best level of public school education to Johnston students. I wish Joe Rotella and the rest of the school committee well as they continue that work.”
Civetti is also seeking elected office for the first time.
“Hopefully, I will make you proud and I’ll serve the town to the utmost of my ability and will be as accessible as possible to the people,” he told those on hand.
Richard DelFino Jr., who chairs the town committee, said the “organization and its number of volunteers that come out and support the endorsed candidates can be overwhelming” for challengers.
“This is indeed the result of many volunteers working together to reach the same goal and elect the most qualified candidate to represent the district,” he said of the night’s victories.
Of the five council seats and two school committee positions to appear on the Nov. 8 ballot, only one will be contested.
In District 1, first-term Town Councilman Richard DelFino III faced no primary challenger, but will square off against Deborah Spaur and former council member Eileen Fuoco in eight weeks. Both will appear on the November ballot as independents.
District 2 Councilman Anthony Verardo and District 3 Councilman David Santilli, both Democrats, have no opposition in their re-election bids. Robert LaFazia of District 1 is also running for a new school committee term without opposition.
Some Johnston voters cast ballots in another race on Tuesday – the Democratic primary to succeed embattled state Rep. John Carnevale in House District 13.
Those whose precinct votes at Winsor Hill Elementary School backed Lisa Scorpio in a three-way race with Ramon Perez and Anthony Defilippo, with a 100-62-8 split among the candidates.
However, across the entire district – of which three of four precincts are located in Providence – Perez emerged victorious, winning 512 votes, or 56 percent of those cast. Scorpio received 352 votes, or more than 38 percent, while Defilippo received 51 votes, or less than 6 percent. No other candidates for the District 13 seat will appear on the November ballot.
There will be fall contests for some General Assembly seats representing the town.
State Rep. Deborah Fellela (D-43) faces a challenge from independent Karin Gorman. State Sen. Frank Lombardo (D-25) faces a challenge from independent Louis Vinagro Jr., while state Sen. Stephen Archembault (D-22) will face Republican Brent Barrows.
Reps. Stephen Ucci (D-42) and Gregory Costantino (D-44) face no challengers.
Tuesday’s ballot also included town committee seats.
Those elected in District 1 are DelFino Jr., Mary Cerra, Robert A. LaFazia, Derek R. LaFazia, Dennis D. Cardillo, Linda L. Folcarelli, Jennifer A. Russo, Fuoco, Frank Saccoccio, Christen R. Ciarlo, and Albert R. Cournoyer.
Those elected in District 4 are Rotella, Russo, David M. aRusso, Fellela, Arnold Vecchione, Vincent P. Baccari, Richard P. Civetti, Cheryl A. Jackson, Elaine M. Cabral, and Joseph J. Quartino. 1
District 5 Town Council candidate Robert Civetti had many volunteers, including these four supporters who staffed the election poll at Johnston High School Tuesday. 2
This was the scene mid-afternoon Tuesday inside the polling place at Johnston High School, where voter turnout was light. (Sun Rise photos by Pete Fontaine) 3
SHOW OF SUPPORT:
Supporters join Town Council President Robert Russo and School Committee member Joseph Rotella at the Graniteville School polling place. 4
District 4 Town Council candidate Kevin Millonzi and School Committee candidate Alexander Lucini share a moment outside Graniteville School. 5
A voter checks in with workers who staffed the polling place at Sarah Dyer Barnes Elementary School. 6
State Rep. Deborah Fellela and her daughter Ally await the results of Tuesday’s primary inside the Johnston Democratic Town Committee headquarters. 7
Town Council candidate Robert Civetti, second left, is congratulated by Town Clerk Vince Baccari, Chief of Staff Doug Jeffrey, and his father. 8
REASON TO SMILE:
Town Committee Chairman Richard J. DelFino Jr. enjoys a lighter moment with former state representative and councilwoman Marry Cerra at headquarters on Tuesday night. 9
Town Councilman David Santillli, left, awaits the result of Tuesday’s primary election. 10
School Committee member Joseph Rotella gets a hug from his father Tuesday night. 11
Moments after performing what as become his ceremonial remove of the necktie, Mayor Joseph Polisena chats with his “walking partners” Robert V. Russo and Joseph Rotella who won their respective primary elections Tuesday. 12
As Mayor Joseph Polisena speaks and Town Council candidate Robert Civetti looks on, Town Committee Chairman Richard DelFino Jr. puts numbers on the board at party headquarters on Tuesday night. (Sun Rise photos by Pete Fontaine)