By EMMA BARTLETT
Three more Cranston residents have added their names to the list of those running for City Council this fall. Current Ward 2 councilwoman Aniece Germain announced her bid as a …
By EMMA BARTLETT
Three more Cranston residents have added their names to the list of those running for City Council this fall. Current Ward 2 councilwoman Aniece Germain announced her bid as a Democrat and Ward 5 Council President Chris Paplauskas said he will run as a Republican. Opposing Paplauskas for the Ward 5 seat is Democrat Larry Warner. All candidates seeking office must file their declarations by June 29. A full list of declared candidates (the declaration deadline was Wednesday at 4 p.m.) will appear in next week’s Herald.
Councilwoman Aniece Germain said she didn’t originally plan to run for City Council in 2020. At the time, she was in the middle of completing a graduate degree, working as a teacher, serving as the assistant director for a nonprofit and being the mother to three children. However, when the seat opened up and community members urged her to go for the position, Germain did.
“I feel like I have a voice that needs to be heard, and I carry on many other voices that need to be heard,” Germain said.
In the past two years, Germain said she learned a lot. Over seven of the resolutions she introduced have been, and she has held two community candlelight vigils the past several years to commemorate those who lost their lives to Covid. If re-elected, she would like to focus on accountable government, safe and healthy neighborhoods and equitable school funding.
“I’m not afraid to be disruptive,” Germain said, in regard to making sure the taxpayers’ services are delivered, the wards are safe and that there is transparency in government.
Germain said there is much work to do to have a just, fair and equitable city. As a Black woman, immigrant and mom, Germain said she has brought a different perspective to the council. She noted that one of her proudest moments was her resolution on Black history which resulted in an hour long debate on the resolution and its language.
“We were able to have an authentic conversation about race relationships, the oppression that Black people have suffered and how we talk about it and recognize the contribution of Black people in our society,” Germain said.
She said the conversation was uncomfortable and, while the resolution passed unanimously, uncomfortable conversations need to continue in order to move forward and better understand each other.
According to Germain, education is the foundation of everything which is why she wants to make sure teachers have good pay, schools reflect the 21st century and children have resources they need to be successful.
“I know I don’t have a say in the educational policies, but I can help to make sure we fund our schools,” Germain said.
During her time as a councilwoman, Germain said she has been bullied and disrespected by other people and, when she was discouraged, wondered if she would seek reelection. She said when someone heard she was potentially not running for reelection, they sent her a touching note.
“In this letter, the person reminded me of why I was there,” said Germain. “I realized I was there for a reason and cannot let negativity get in the way because we need to make sure our city reflects what we’ve been saying.”
Germain’s major goal is to see Budlong Pool operational and work with the administration to make sure the pool doesn’t disappear. She wants to maintain a place where residents and children have a place for their recreational needs and said that since people have stayed home for the past two years, kids need this social interaction, which the pool gave them.
In her daily council duties, Germain will respond to constituents’ emails and phone calls after work. She said many of the calls concern safety, neighborhood cleanliness and speeding; this led to her creating an ordinance that established a push-button station for a Park Avenue crosswalk.
Diversity is important and inclusion means having your voice taken into consideration and being part of the solution making. Overall, she has enjoyed her time on the council and is excited to run in the upcoming election.
Cranston City Council President Christopher Paplauskas announced Monday his run for a fifth term representing Ward 5. Paplauskas made history in 2014 when he became the first Republican elected from Ward 5 in over half a century. Since then, his time on the council has been focused on community engagement, establishing new traditions, and staying true to his motto, “Making Cranston Better – Together” in every action he takes.
“I’m proud of my accomplishments so far in my eight years serving on the Council, but there’s still much more important work to be done,” said Paplauskas, in a release. “My time on the City Council has been focused on collaboration, bipartisanship, and doing what’s right for the city I love. I am asking my neighbors in Ward 5 to once again put their trust in me to represent them in our city government.”
Since taking office, Paplauskas has created and hosted the annual Knightsville Christmas Tree Lighting, donated a new “Welcome to Knightsville” sign, organized an annual clean up of Meshanticut Park and has been responsive to constituent calls and concerns.
On the council, he has sponsored and passed dozens of ordinances, including a tax exemption for disabled military veterans. Unanimously elected Council President in January 2021, Paplauskas has worked closely with colleagues on both sides of the political aisle to ensure council meetings are run smoothly and fairly. He has supported new technology allowing residents to participate and testify at council meetings online and has consistently voted on important issues based on what he feels is right for constituents – not based on party lines.
“The City Council will have to make difficult choices in the years ahead to ensure Cranston remains one of the best places to live in America,” Paplauskas said. “Like all cities, we have our fair share of challenges, but as a proven leader with eight years of experience representing my neighbors on the Council, I can promise I’ll continue to do everything I can to keep our city a great place to live, work, and raise a family.”
Paplauskas works as an account manager for BORI graphix (his family-run small business) and has a second job working delivery at a local pizza parlor.
Paplauskas said that as working-class taxpayers in Cranston, he and his wife, Judy, want to see Cranston continue to be a city of choice to lay down roots for their two children, Aidan and Sophia, and for generations of families to come. Paplauskas is also an assistant scoutmaster at Troop 6 Cranston, a communicant of St. Mary’s Parish, and a member of St. Mary’s Feast Society, the Holy Name Society, and the Santa Maria Di Prata Society, among other organizations. He and his family are homeowners in the Meshanticut neighborhood of Ward 5, having previously resided in Knightsville.
Warner announced Tuesday that he will run as a Democratic candidate for the Ward 5 council seat in the upcoming election. Warner is currently the Chief Impact and Equity Officer with United Way of Rhode Island. Prior to United Way, he worked at the Rhode Island Foundation where he led the organization’s health grant making. He also previously served on the Providence Fire Department for 15 years where he held several roles, including that of Firefighter/EMT and Training Officer.
“I am committed to serving my neighbors to help keep Cranston a city where people not only want to live, but where they can actually afford to live and be healthy,” said Warner. “My campaign will focus on bringing members of the community and other stakeholders together to find solutions for challenges facing our city such as affordable housing, economic development, and opportunities for our youth. I plan to work alongside other Council members from any party, and use my experiences, expertise, and resident input to prioritize policies that build a healthy, safe, and affordable Cranston.”
Maria Bucci, Chair of the Cranston Democratic Committee, shared her support.
“I am very excited that Larry is running for City Council in Ward 5,” said Bucci. “As we all know, our city is facing tremendous challenges – especially now that the mayor has announced we are facing a massive budget crisis that will likely lead to tax increases, cuts to city services and the layoffs of city and school department employees. Given his history of public service as a firefighter, his volunteer service in Cranston and his public health background, I believe Larry has the qualifications and dedication needed to help put our city back on the right track.”
“I love Cranston, but I don’t love the fiscal mismanagement that we are witnessing,” Warner said. “I am running for City Council because we need better accountability and smarter use of taxpayer dollars. Council President Chris Paplauskas, who currently represents Ward 5, recently voted for a budget that increases our taxes by almost the maximum amount allowed by our Charter. This tax increase, along with a $12 million structural deficit in the city’s budget, puts Cranston and its residents in bad financial shape.”
Citywide councilwoman Jessica Marino added her support.
“I am thrilled that Larry is looking to serve the residents of Ward 5 to promote a local government that is responsive to the needs of its community. I know that Larry will work to improve city government in a fiscally responsible manner. He will promote a transparent government and policies resulting in a better community that is affordable, healthy and safe,” said Marino.
Warner and his wife, Dr. Tammy Vargas Warner, have lived in Cranston for the past 14 years and have three sons – one of whom is a graduate of Cranston High School West and two of whom currently attend Cranston Public Schools.
Warner is also the first in his family to attend college. He earned a Doctor of Public Health degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a Master of Public Health and Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University.
“As a longtime resident of Cranston, I am excited that Larry is running for City Council and I know that he will bring new ideas to the Council,” said Lori Carlino, chair of the Cranston Ward 5 Democratic Committee. “Larry understands the importance of fiscal responsibility and thriving communities as a parent of children in Cranston Public Schools and as a member of the Cranston Public Library board of trustees.”
Warner said he is proud of his current volunteer roles as a member of the Cranston Public Library board of trustees, co-chair of the Rhode Island Commission for Health Advocacy and Equity, and as a member of the Planning Committee at Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island. He is also an alum of the Ten Men initiative of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence and a volunteer with Pilots N Paws, which is a network of volunteers that help rescued animals become adopted.