The “worst kept secret in Cranston” will soon be officially out in the open.
City Council President Michael Farina is set to launch his campaign for mayor during a gathering Jan. 14 at Twin Oaks.
“You’re invited to join Council President Michael Farina along with #TeamFarina as he makes a formal announcement for his 2020 campaign,” reads a description for a Facebook event to which the Herald received an invitation.
It adds: “Please join us in unveiling the worst kept secret in Cranston.”
The same message and invitation was later issued through an email from Cranston Republican City Committee Chairman Chris Buonanno.
After Monday’s meeting of the council’s Safety Services & Licensing and Finance committees, Farina declined to discuss the nature of the announcement further.
But based on his past statements and the clear allusion in the announcement of the coming week’s event, he remains focused on succeeding Mayor Allan Fung in the city’s top job.
Farina, employed as an executive with CVS, is currently serving in his fourth term on the council, having first been elected in 2012. He was the top citywide vote-getter in three of his four races, finishing just behind Steve Stycos – a Democrat and former Ward 1 councilman who is also considering a mayoral bid – for the top spot in 2018.
Farina was first elected as a Democrat, but switched parties ahead of the 2016 election. At the time, he said his move would “affect the political landscape of Cranston immediately and for years to come” and that he planned “on eventually running for mayor and leading this city on a higher level.”
Republicans won a majority on the council in 2016, and Farina was subsequently chosen as council president. He has retained that post in the current term, with the GOP holding a 5-4 edge on the council.
Farina will become the first announced candidate to succeed Fung, who is departing after more than a decade in office due to term limits. Others have acknowledged they are considering a bid, and the field could prove crowded for both parties.
On the Republican side, potential candidates include Ward 5 Councilman Chris Paplauskas, former councilman Jim Donahue and Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung, the mayor’s wife. GOP Citywide Councilman Ken Hopkins considered a mayoral bid before announcing he would instead seek re-election to his current post.
On the Democratic side, The Public Radio’s Ian Donnis recently reported that former councilwoman Maria Bucci has filed paperwork to establish a mayoral campaign. There has yet to be a formal announcement, and a message recently left at a number listed for Bucci was not immediately returned.
State Rep. Charlene Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston), who serves as deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, previously told the Herald she is considering a run for mayor.
Last month, WPRI’s Ted Nesi reported that Lima recently sent a letter to members of the Cranston Democratic City Committee urging them to select their candidate through a “deliberate and thoughtful process once all potential candidates are known.”
In addition to Stycos, former mayor Michael Napolitano previously acknowledged mulling a 2020 campaign, although he said he is considering other offices as well.