Soon to be Fenton-Fung, mayor's wife talks future

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Barbara Ann Fenton, the wife of Mayor Allan Fung, has filed to legally change her last name to Fenton-Fung – and she continues to leave the door open to a run for office, although she says no decision has been made on that front.

In an email Tuesday, Fenton said she anticipates the name change proceedings – scheduled for Thursday in Probate Court – to be a “very quick matter.”

“We actually decided this as a family earlier this year, but because we were traveling so much internationally I held off as it takes a bit of time to get it properly sorted with passports and visas, etc.,” she said. “As we do not plan to leave the U.S. again until we attend the Smart Cities Symposium in Taiwan this March, the petition was filed now so that the paperwork could be squared away without concern.”

The move has sparked renewed speculation regarding Fenton’s future. During an appearance on The Public’s Radio in August, she noted that rumors had “started flying” about her making a bid to succeed her husband, who is term limited – and acknowledged she has given the idea consideration.

In Tuesday’s email, Fenton said the response she has received since the interview has “literally been overwhelming, from being encouraged by residents in the airport to conversations about policy in the bread aisle at Shaw’s, and I’m flattered by that.”

Fenton said at this point, she and Fung continue to mull various options for their future. She said the next professional move for her husband – a two-time gubernatorial candidate who has also left the door open for a future statewide campaign – is a significant part of the equation.

“This is a great city of immigrants, truly family-oriented, and above all, extraordinarily kind. Our decision this time around is based entirely on internal factors including the incredible opportunities being presented to Allan right now come the end of his term. Not to play coy, but that’s really the major limiting factor here,” she said. “Some positions, especially in the private sector, are not keen on controversy, which many of these roles ultimately bring. Some have no problem with it. Then you have to make sure that there wouldn’t be ethical conundrums. This isn’t me dragging out a decision, there’s literally multiple balls being juggled in the air right now behind the scenes. I think we’ll put the pieces of the puzzle into place rather soon.”

Fenton, who works as a physical therapist, was raised in Middletown and has long been active in Republican politics. She said she believes that experience and her time at Fung’s side during his gubernatorial bids have prepared her for the scrutiny that would come with her own campaign for office – particularly one to succeed her husband.

“For many years, I’ve played more of a behind the scenes role, but most people don’t realize how large that role has been, especially in terms of the gubernatorial races …When some people have conversations with me, I think their perception of ‘a wife running for office’ changes dramatically,” she said.

She added: “I’ve been through two statewide races with people following me, taking photos of me in the gym, leaving horrific messages for me on my car or home, and endless nonsense on social media with things simply being made up about us. At some point you go back to the old Margaret Thatcher mantra: ‘I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.’”

In terms of whether the name change petition is at all related to her political aspirations, Fenton said: “I understand there will be conspiracy theories galore … However, if you’re intimidated by someone hyphenating their last name, you might want to rethink your whole campaign.”

Fung’s impending departure from the mayor’s office after more than a decade has led to wide speculation regarding who will be his successor, and several potential candidates have acknowledged they are considering a 2020 campaign for the city’s top job.

Republican City Council President Michael Farina has all but confirmed his intention to launch a mayoral bid. Other potential GOP hopefuls include former councilman Jim Donahue and Ward 5 Councilman Chris Paplauskas.

Republican Citywide Councilman Ken Hopkins also explored a campaign for mayor before announcing earlier this year that he would instead run for re-election to his current post with the intention of seeking the council’s presidency.

On the Democratic side, Citywide Councilman Steve Stycos, state Rep. Charlene Lima and former mayor Michael Napolitano have all said they are considering a run for mayor.

Comments

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Nickie

I met her once, and she was super sweet to my son with Down Syndrome. Her husband is a gem, and he married well. If she runs, she has my vote. We need great people to keep Cranston on the upswing. My mom lives in Warwick and she is begging me to send Fung over. LOL He's ours! And she can be too.

Wednesday, November 13
Joe

I would love to see Chris Paplauskas run for mayor of Cranston. The timing is perfect, as he is approaching his term limit as councilman and I couldn’t think of a better person to continue the progress Mayor fung has made. I’m not sure I know anyone who is more involved in the city. I really hope he runs!

Wednesday, November 13
Joe

I would love to see Chris Paplauskas run for mayor of Cranston. The timing is perfect, as he is approaching his term limit as councilman and I couldn’t think of a better person to continue the progress Mayor fung has made. I’m not sure I know anyone who is more involved in the city. I really hope he runs!

Wednesday, November 13
Sarah

I've lived in Auburn for almost ten years now. I've met Mayor Fung and his wife so many times at events. My son loves them. And they don't come with large entourages or seem like slimy salespeople. They're just the nicest couple who run the place. Let's face it, whomever Mayor Fung endorses, I'm voting for. If it's his wife, she's got my vote. It's about time we have a woman in that office.

Wednesday, November 13
Donatella

I don't know the democrats yet, but over here in Oaklawn, I know the Fungs are beloved, and she's even come to my door campaigning for her husband. Strong spoken and likable. I don't see how she'd lose. No one wants the Fung era to end around here. Why does the one good guy have term limits?

Thursday, November 14
Robert

I have met The Mayors wife and she is very nice but I am not sure how that relates to her abilities to run a city. As for the rest of the people mentioned, Farina as Council President seems to have the most skills to do the job. Paplauskas needs some more seasoning to be ready to lead the city, never heard of Jim Donahue. For the D’s Napaltono was terrible and Lima knows the statehouse but probably not the city.

Thursday, November 14
Rob

I have met both the Mayor and his wife many of times, both are likable. Although Mayor Fung has been an asset to the city, a name change does not transition the skills or the experiences to take on running a city like Cranston. The city is has been progressing forward but let us not forget that we have been fortunate to have a seasoned, well versed experienced Council President in Mike Farina who has brought many years of business and political experience to table in leading our council and working with Mayor Fung to make Cranston a city to be proud to live in.

The momentum we have experienced as a city needs to carry forward and in my opinion the most qualified and ready to lead on day one person to replace Fung would be Mike Farina. As a resident and parent, the work Mike has done as a councilman and Council President to ensure our services never skip a beat or our city is well prepared for our children cannot be underestimated.

Farina brings leadership experience from both the public and private sector, albeit as the leader of the city council or as an executive level in his career. For many of the council, they are not as prepared to take over and lead the city at this moment in time. Many bring great ideas and do much for the city but many, if not any of them have yet to been seasoned enough to take on the helm of this city.

Thursday, November 14
Donna

The Farina plants on this thread are hilarious. This is the guy who wants to raise the salary nearly 50% so he can grace us with being Mayor? No thanks. My neighbor asked him for help with an issue here in Edgewood, next thing you know he got sent tickets for a fundraiser, and no help. No thanks. I don't know if Fenton-Fung has the skills to become Mayor, but I know that Mr. Farina does not have the ethical standard to do so. I agree with Sarah here. Whomever Mayor Fung picks to be Mayor has my vote. The fact that his wife is being considered for such, points to me that he doesn't think anyone else running can do the job.

Thursday, November 14
Doug

Donna, your comments intrigued me so I went back and read the Herald's article's regarding the salary increase for the Mayor and based on the reporting the idea it was presented and sponsored by Favicchio and McAuley and was approved with a bi-partisan majority of the council of 6-3, so it seems the council approved the pay increase. The reporting in the Herald does not seem to justify your claims. Based on these facts it calls in to question the validity of the rest of your statements. Maybe your the plant on the thread?

Thursday, November 14
Donna

Hey "Doug". Go and listen to some old snippets of the Dan York Show and then look at the Providence Journal. Farina is enthusiastically supporting over a 50% increase. Remember him telling us what a sacrifice he would make for us to become Mayor? Complete condescending thug. Who sends my neighbor fundraising tickets instead of fixing a problem.

Thursday, November 14
Doug

Hey "Donna" Thanks for the reference on Dan Yorke I will flush through his podcasts. I will say that your dislike, disdain or hatred for Mr. Farina appears apparent. Your odd insults and weird accusations aside Farina seems like the best to lead our city after Fung. Have a wonderful day.

Thursday, November 14
Donna

Hey "Doug" yes I find someone who as an elected official responds to a request for help with a fundraising ticket in the mail to be reprehensible. Lets face it would Mayor Fung even go down this rabbit hole if he thought the other guy in his party was a better choice? I doubt it.

Thursday, November 14
Doug

Listened to Yorke, Farina sounds like a smart person and great candidate. Farina has my vote now thanks for the suggestion but I am sure you will continue to spread your odd narrative

Thursday, November 14
Sarah

Donna, save your breath. I think a candidate's campaign team outed themselves with there ridiculous comments here. To even insinuate that the success of Cranston is due to Mike Farina and not Mayor Fung has me thinking its one of the council people actually posting. Maria Bucci is running now too. I don't really know her at all but good for more women. If the men act like this, we don't need them. But as I said before, whomever Mayor Fung tells me to vote for will have my vote. He's been our north star.

Friday, November 15
John

Saw these and had to comment, my assessment is that most of the posts are campaign workers for both teams. It’s just a name change that doesn’t change skills abilities or a persons value, it’s just a name. Qualifications are qualifications, Mrs Fenton-Fung will have to prove she has the skills to be our Mayor if she wants the job. Skills matter not name and her skills seem limited with no elected experience and he profession as a Physical Therapist. Would love to know more about her other than she is nice and worked on a few campaigns.

Friday, November 15
Nicole

I'm really interested in this conversation. What qualifies someone to be Mayor? Is it logistical talent like you'd learn on a council? Or a leadership post that would prove you can lead people? I think it will all play out over the course of the year. But with Maria Bucci and perhaps the Mayor's wife running we'll see how these women overcome some anti-female stereotypes in leadership. I don't know any of them. But I agree with other posters, I'll basically be looking to Mayor Fung endorsing someone to figure out my vote. I don't follow politics enough to trust myself with such a decision.

Friday, November 15
Zach

Mayor Fung will go down as the best Mayor Cranston has ever have. People don’t want him to leave office. People think of Cranston they automatically think of Mayor Fung. To think that Mike Farina could be Mayor is laughable. He is too immature and lets not forget he was a democrat first. He is not ready for prime time. I think Chris Papaluskas is more like Mayor Fung. He is one of the only councilman out in the community doing community type things. Farina acts cocky and is not the type of person I want leading the city. I think at this point it sounds like Mayor Fung is not backing Mike Farina since he is staying neutral at this point. I won’t be voting for Farina if his name is on the ballet.

Friday, November 15
John

Skills are skills and facts are facts, as I stated it is just a name change. The Mayor would need to endorse his wife so the suppositions about his endorsement here are silly. As I said, I would love to hear more about potential candidates than the writings of these internal hacks posing as independent people. We have Team Papalauskus hitting Farina, Team Fung hitting Farina and Team Fenton-Fung hitting Farina. He must be super far ahead is to try this negative campaign strategy. Only reason I posted again was it was sill on my browser and I saw more nonsense. I would expect to see another person post something since the candidate teams are watching this like hawks to get the last word. No one is on the Hearlad website this much .

Friday, November 15
Paul

I have lived in Cranston for the last 20 years and Mayor Fung has done a excellent job as Mayor. I just hope the next Mayor will continue his work. I don't see Michael Farina at many events trying to get his name out there. You would think he would be going everywhere Mayor Fung goes to introduce himself to people. Whoever is the next Mayor has big shoes to fill and that person will be expected to be as great as a Mayor as Allan Fung. Everyone I speak to in Cranston wishes Mayor Fung could run again.

Friday, November 15
Donna

This comment thread it really funny. I wonder how many other people got fundraising tickets instead of help. And no "Joe" I don't think anyone thinks Farina is a viable candidate, let alone a front runner. Total thug. And no one is that stupid, Team Farina is all over this thread. No wonder we threw him out of the party. Thank heavens he's the Republicans problem now.

Saturday, November 16
John

Donna read all your comments since you reference Joe I know you meant me so I am giving you a reply. So first Mayor Fung’s endorsement drives your decision now your a Democrat nice misdirection, your story is bogus just like you. Your comments are suspect you hate Farina we get it and it’s pretty apparent by your comments. Go yell on Facebook so your true identity would be revealed. This site allows for secret identities. I’ve met all the people referenced in this article as potential mayoral candidates and Farina is the most qualified and is in fact in the lead based on my research. I am going to FB message him and let him know he is getting to you. Like I said yesterday the political hacks are all over this thread.

Saturday, November 16
Donna

John, I can only think you're either Farina himself or on his campaign team. No one in my neighborhood likes him. No one. And if you have research then I guess you just outed yourself being on his campaign. Release your research then weirdo. I've been a proud liberal my entire life. But Fung is the only Republican I would and have ever voted for. And proudly done that because he genuinely cares about people. That said, the Republicans took Farina, there problem now.

Sunday, November 17
John

More ramblings from Donna, use facts, make sense, quote articles and data and then she makes stuff up because I must be a member of a campaign team and can’t have my own opinion. It’s called thread control good luck, keep living in your own fake little world.

Sunday, November 17