By JOHN HOWELL When he announced his candidacy for mayor running as an independent, Frank Picozzi said he would neither seek nor accept endorsements from unions and organizations. But that hasn't stopped individuals from voicing their endorsements, as
When he announced his candidacy for mayor running as an independent, Frank Picozzi said he would neither seek nor accept endorsements from unions and organizations. But that hasn’t stopped individuals from voicing their endorsements, as Ward 5 Democrat Ed Ladouceur and Republican Ward 3 candidate John Falkowski said this week they support Picozzi.
In an interview Tuesday, Picozzi was surprised to learn of the endorsements, saying he is pleased to accept their support.
Ladouceur said he made his decision after much soul searching and interviewing Picozzi. He also had difficulty reconciling his beliefs in the Democratic Party.
In a statement, he said: “I am and always be a Democrat at heart, and I continue to support Democrats who are serving Warwick and Rhode Island consistently with the best traditions of the party. But I cannot let party affiliation alone decide who is the best candidate in a particular election.”
In his statement, Ladouceur does not name incumbent Democratic Mayor Joseph J. Solomon. He says that “notwithstanding Frank Picozzi’s independent status as a candidate, I believe that Frank will better represent the Democratic ideas, visions and goals that I have for my constituents.”
Told of Ladouceur’s endorsement of Picozzi Wednesday morning, Solomon said, “surprise, surprise.” He did not elaborate.
Likewise, Falkowski sees Picozzi as a better fit for the city. In a letter to the editor (see Page 7), he refers to a letter to the editor from Shuster published in last Thursday’s Beacon critical of Solomon’s style of governing. Shuster is a member of the Democratic Ward 5 Committee and was appointed to the Zoning Board of Review during Avedisian’s tenure as mayor.
Reached for this story, GOP City Committee Chairman Richard Cascella said: “I’m leaning toward a non-politician [for mayor].”
He said the committee met Tuesday night and while there was discussion about Picozzi’s candidacy, no vote was taken.
Cascella thinks it will be difficult for Picozzi to beat Solomon. “It’s always difficult to beat a machine.”
Yet he applauds Picozzi for seeking to bring change, and for saying he doesn’t have all the answers and that he will be looking for people to help him should he win election.
“He knows what he doesn’t know. He’s an independent and I like him for that,” Cascella said.
Ladouceur and Solomon were City Council allies during the administration of former Republican Mayor Scott Avedisian, but when Solomon became mayor things changed. The schism was most notable when Ladouceur, Council President Steve Merolla, Ward 1 Councilman Rick Corley and Ward 2 Councilman Jeremy Rix voted against a firefighters’ agreement that ended a legal fight over an expired contract and gave them no raises in the current fiscal year. Ladouceur and his group wanted additional time for a study of the agreement and its long-range impact.
Ladouceur has made Bayside sewers a commitment since first running for office. Bids were received for the project in February and in August the Warwick Sewer Authority awarded D’Ambra Construction a $17.8 million contract for the job. But for the work to proceed, the contract needs Solomon’s signature. Reiterating concerns over the cost to homeowners and suggesting there are less costly means of addressing the need, he has not signed the contract.
More recently, Ladouceur has complained how requests to address issues in his ward – from potholes to the failure to properly repair damages to Lippitt Park and install a crosswalk in the vicinity of St. Kevin Church – are being ignored by the administration. After more than a year of numerous emails and a council resolution, Ladouceur personally filled a couple of potholes in his ward.
“I need to work with somebody who is going to work with me and for my constituents,” Ladouceur said. “This [his discontent with the administration] has been building for quite a while.”
Ladouceur said he did not base his decision on whether he believes Picozzi will win.
Picozzi said during their meeting, Ladouceur asked him a lot of questions “about my views and where I was coming from.” He said Ladouceur didn’t suggest he would support him and Picozzi said he didn’t seek his support.