With the Democratic primary having determined the matchup for the mayoral election, Republican Sue Stenhouse opened her campaign headquarters Friday with a message that Warwick voters deserve the leadership that has the resolve and resources to get the job done.
“They deserve leadership with the courage to meet contemporary problems with bold solutions. They deserve leadership with integrity, with a track-record of successful results,” she said.
Stenhouse did not mention Mayor Joseph Solomon in her speech, who won 65 percent of the vote in last Wednesday’s Democratic primary in her speech. Nonetheless, she did call to the podium a Democrat, former City Council President Donald Torres, who she served with on the City Council to underscore her ability to work across the political aisle.
In a press release, Torres endorsed Stenhouse, saying, “We need a leader with a good sound vision for our city, someone who looks for input from residents, people with knowledge of the issues at hand and a mayor willing to listen to our talented city employees doing the job every day. A leader who asks 'what else' will make this plan work.”
Torres is a lifelong resident of Warwick and retired Cranston firefighter. He served on the Warwick City Council from 2001 to 2007 and was president from 2005 to 2007. He ran for mayor against Avedisian in 2006. With his wife he is the owner of Express Embroidery off Post Road in Warwick.
Stenhouse campaign headquarters in Airport Plaza is a familiar location to Warwick Republicans, as it was headquarters for Scott Avedisian for many elections. But Avedisian, who resigned as mayor in May to take the job of president and CEO of the Rhode Island Transit Authority, did not make an appearance. Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Robert Flanders was in the audience, as was Paul Pence, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor. Not surprisingly, as he dismissed her as Cranston director of senior services and Stenhouse supported Rep. Patricia Morgan in the GOP gubernatorial primary, Republican nominee for governor Allan Fung was not present.
The audience of mostly friends, family and campaign workers was also devoid of local Republican candidates, reflective of the fact that of the nine council seats and nine Warwick General Assembly seats on the November ballot, there are only five Republican candidates.
There are no Republican candidates for council and only two wards – Ward 1 when incumbent Richard Corley faces a challenge from independent Patrick Maloney and Ward 4 where Democratic primary winner Jim McElroy faces independent Mike Penta – have contests.
Stenhouse is without the network of local candidates, who know their neighborhoods, to hold coffee parties or walk the ward. She is known in Ward 1, where she served as councilwoman for seven years before making an unsuccessful run for Secretary of State.
At the opening of the headquarters Mark Russell, who worked with Avedisian from his days on the City Council, rallied the crowd urging them to spread the word on Stenhouse, as well as volunteer to be with her as she walked neighborhoods and made campaign appearances. He also urged people to take Stenhouse signs and make campaign contributions.
According to his Sept. 5 campaign report, Solomon has a campaign war chest of $218,933. As she did not face a primary contest, Stenhouse has until Oct. 9 to file a report.
In her remarks that were remarkably similar to her announcement, Stenhouse talked of her experience in government as the Director of Community and Constituent relations for former Governor Donald Carcieri, working on the Station Fire and other emergency response events, Business Regulation Reform, Economic Development and education initiatives.
“My go-to formula for getting things done is clever problem solving, building coalitions and collaborating. This is true whether working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete much-overdue dredging along Pawtuxet Cove; saving home mail delivery for the residents of Gaspee Point or co-founding the Historic Walking Tour After-School Program to teach our youth to be proud of their home,” she said.
Stenhouse noted if elected she would be the city’s first female mayor.
“I am a woman with a unique tool belt. I am a builder, an innovative one. And I want to continue to build a Warwick that thrives – with a responsible, fiscal agenda, a robust economy, a flourishing school system and a proud sense of community,” she said.
On her build list is rapport with state and federal officials to find funding streams that support Warwick programs for education, public safety and public works; building a bridge between the City Council and the school committee to develop a sustainable plan for funding the needs of the city’s school system; support for city departments with the technical upgrades needed to provide timely, responsive, constructive constituent services; the planned vision of the City Centre, which supports the city’s transportation hubs and fosters substantive development around the airport and train station; and to bolster neighborhoods by assembling a regular conference of neighborhood associations to discuss a beneficial sharing of resources and assets that help protect Warwick’s unique history, improve our recreational spaces and sustain our beautiful coastline.
“I want to build confidence in City Hall,” Stenhouse said. “Most of all, I want to build up Warwick’s reputation as a vibrant, innovative, desirable place to live and work, raise a family and retire, go to school and grow a business.”
In a press release issued Monday, Stenhouse noted that Solomon consistently touts his four stints as president of the City Council in his campaign materials.
"But that also means Joe was fired three times by his colleagues on the council, with council members three times opting for new leadership and vision, as when we elected Donald Torres to that important role. Donald was thoughtful and inclusive as council president. I was able to get 95 percent of my legislation passed due to collaborations with Donald and other council members," Stenhouse was quoted.