The candidate declaration period has closed, and the campaign for city offices this year promises to be spirited.
Several new faces have emerged as part of the field of nearly 30 hopefuls for 17 local positions, including the mayor’s office and seats on the City Council and School Committee. There were also some surprises once the nomination window closed on the afternoon of June 29.
As expected, Republican Mayor Allan Fung filed papers to seek what would be his fourth and final term. Michael Sepe, a former council president and longtime chairman of the Cranston Democratic City Committee, will be his sole challenger.
The Democratic majority on the council currently stands at 5-4, and the contest for control of the body will be a major storyline of this year’s local campaign. The three citywide seats figure to be pivotal, particularly with the departure of Democratic Council Vice President Richard Santamaria from one of those posts due to term limits.
On the GOP side, Michael Farina – a two-term incumbent who earlier this year switched his party affiliation – will seek re-election to his citywide seat. A director in financial planning and business strategy for a Fortune 100 company, he has led the citywide vote in each of the last two elections.
Joining Farina on the Republican citywide ticket are Kenneth Hopkins and Louis Petrucci Jr.
Hopkins, a retired Cranston High School East teacher and coach, announced his candidacy earlier this year. Petrucci, according to his Facebook profile, works as an electrical inspector for the town of South Kingstown and as manager of L&M Electric LLC.
Council President John Lanni leads the citywide team for the Democrats. Retired after several decades working as an auditor, he was elected back to the council in 2012 after departing two years earlier due to term limits.
Joining Lanni are two political newcomers, Lammis Vargas and Kate Aubin.
Vargas serves as a Cranston Housing Authority commissioner, and works as director of unclaimed property for the office of General Treasurer Seth Magaziner.
Aubin has previously worked as a teacher, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in sustainability and social innovation from Goddard College in Vermont.
Contests appear set for all six of the council’s ward seats as well. A surprise came in Ward 4, where school committee member Trent Colford has filed as a Republican to challenge incumbent Councilman Mario Aceto.
Democratic Ward 1 Councilman Steven Stycos faces a challenge from Republican Stephen Gillissie, while Democratic Ward 3 Councilman Paul Archetto will vie for a new term against Republican Johnrita “Big John” Bina, a well-known former radio personality.
Republican Ward 2 Councilman Donald Botts will face Democrat Paul McAuley in his re-election bid. In Ward 5, first-term Republican Councilman Chris Paplauskas will square off against Democratic challenger Stephen Ciambrone.
In Ward 6, Republican Councilman Michael Favicchio was the sole candidate to file a declaration form. Sepe, in his role as local Democratic chairman, subsequently appointed Sherry Ferdinandi as the party’s candidate for the seat.
In a sharp contrast to recent elections, there will be only one school committee contest this year – for the Ward 4 seat being vacated by Colford. Alan Arthur DePalo, Amy L. Ricci, and Vincent L. Turchetta Jr. have all declared their candidacy for the non-partisan post.
The rest of the committee’s incumbents are set to seek re-election without opposition. They include citywide representative Michael Traficante, Ward 1’s Jeff Gale, Ward 2’s Stephanie Culhane, Ward 3’s Domenic Fusco, committee chair Janice Ruggieri of Ward 5, and Dan Wall of Ward 6.
Several races are set for seats in the General Assembly. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (D-15) will seek re-election, with Republicans Steven Frias and Shawna Lawton and independent Patrick Vallier also having filed candidacy forms.
First-term state Rep. Robert Lancia (R-16) has declared his candidacy for a new term, with Democrats Christopher Millea and Stephen Tranghese having also filed for the seat. State Rep. Arthur Handy (D-18) will face a challenge from independents Frank Gallucci Jr. and James Sulanowski.
Running without opposition are Deputy Speaker Charlene Lima (D-14) and state Rep. Robert Jacquard (D-17).
Several House members from other communities who represent a portion of Cranston have also filed to seek re-election.
Warwick Rep. Joseph McNamara (D-19) faces a challenge from independent David Mastriano, while Warwick Rep. David Bennett (D-20) faces a challenge from independent Daniel Elliott. Coventry Rep. Michael Marcello (D-41) faces a challenge from Republican Robert Quattrocchi. Johnston Rep. Stephen Ucci (D-42) has no declared opponent.
State Sen. Hanna Gallo (D-27) faces a challenge from Republican Jonathan Keith, while state Sen. Joshua Miller (D-28) faces a challenge from independent Rebecca Faith Monroe.
State Sens. Frank Lombardi (D-26) and Erin Lynch Prata (D-31, Warwick) have no declared challengers.
Nomination papers for candidates were to become available July 6, and are due to local canvassers with the required number of signatures – between 50 and 200, depending on the office – by July 15. Candidates have until July 18 to withdraw, and the lottery for placement on primary and general elections ballots is set for July 22.
This year’s primary is scheduled for Sept. 13, with the general election to be held Nov. 8.
Additional information can be found via the Board of Canvassers page on the city’s website, cranstonri.com.