An unexpected candidate may soon enter the race to succeed Allan Fung in the mayor’s office.
Citywide Councilman Ken Hopkins – who last year said he had decided to pass on a run for the city’s top job – recently hinted that a “major announcement” regarding his political future is on the way.
“A major announcement about the ‘H’ train and our 2020 campaign will be coming soon,” Hopkins wrote in a Facebook post on Jan. 29. “Your support and friendship means the world to me. Get ready. ‘All aboard.’”
The councilman declined to discuss his plans further when reached by the Herald late last week.
Hopkins, a retired Cranston High School East educator, former athletic director and coach, is in his second term on the council.
If he becomes a candidate for mayor, he would join a Republican field that already includes City Council President Michael Farina – setting up a potential primary contest. Hopkins was present for Farina’s recent campaign kickoff event at Twin Oaks.
Ward 5 Councilman Chris Paplauskas, also a Republican, has said he too is “seriously considering” a mayoral bid.
Last spring, Hopkins said his 2020 focus would be on helping to build the Republican slate of candidates for city offices. His goal, he said, was to be reelected to his citywide council seat and succeed Farina as council president.
“I’ve had a lot of people ask me to run for mayor … But I think I’d like to pursue the council presidency first,” Hopkins told the Herald in April.
He added: “Things can change … Right now, it’s Mike Farina’s race, and I’m going to support him.”
Fire union endorses Farina
IAFF Local 1363, the union representing the members of the Cranston Fire Department, has issued an early endorsement in the race for mayor.
In a statement posted on Facebook Monday, Scott Robinson, the union’s president, announced that its leadership is “unanimous in our support” of Farina’s candidacy. He said the decision came following a sit-down meeting in which the council president “laid out his vision for the future for the city of Cranston.”
“I am incredibly honored to have earned the support of our local firefighters,” Farina said in an accompanying press release. “Their endorsement for our vision of a safe, innovative and inclusive city sends a strong signal to our community. We have become the second largest city in the state and I look forward to working with the union leadership to bring fresh ideas on how we keep our growing community safer, while staying fiscally sound. Together, we will continue to build on a movement that grows our city, where our children can be proud to continue living.”
Robinson added in the release: “We have a twofold priority for Cranston Firefighters; to provide excellent service to the citizens of Cranston and the visitors to our city; and to protect the health and safety of our members. Council President Farina has a proven track record since being elected to the city council to advocate for both. We are honored to stand with someone who believes public safety is a priority for continued growth. We look forward to continue under his leadership, to collaborate and provide a safe future for our children and residents.”
Watching District 15
Steven Frias, the state’s Republican National Committeeman and a two-time challenger to Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, said he continues to consider another run for the District 15 seat.
“Recent events, such as the Britt indictment and the illegal Convention Center audit allegedly ordered in retaliation, have only further confirmed what I have long believed; it is embarrassing to have Speaker Mattiello as our representative,” Frias said in an email last week. “What I do not know is whether a few more residents in District 15 have come to the same conclusion and are now willing to remove him from office. So, for now, I watch and wait.”
Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung, the wife of Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, is also believed to be considering a run for the District 15 seat or for the mayor’s office.
Mattiello, meanwhile, has downplayed the latest headlines surrounding the Joint Committee on Legislative Services and the order for an audit – since rescinded – of the Rhode Island Convention Center. He previously said he “absolutely” plans to run for reelection.
Political Winds is a semi-regular feature focused on the 2020 election campaign. Candidates or those with political news may contact Daniel Kittredge, editor, at 732-3100, ext. 234, or email@example.com.