At 85, ex-Mayor Traf running as fast as ever

Can current School Committee head win another City Council term?

Posted 5/15/24

Michael A. “Mayor Traf” Traficante’s already achieved the municipal hat trick — mayor (check), school committee (check) and city council (checked, 45 years ago).

The Army …

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At 85, ex-Mayor Traf running as fast as ever

Can current School Committee head win another City Council term?


Michael A. “Mayor Traf” Traficante’s already achieved the municipal hat trick — mayor (check), school committee (check) and city council (checked, 45 years ago).

The Army veteran fought in Korea and his public service resume grows denser each election.

The former Cranston mayor and current school committee chairman, now 85 years old, has announced another run at City Council, aiming to occupy the seat about to be vacated by fellow Republican Councilman Chris Paplauskas, who has reached his term limit.

Traficante, now 85 years old, admits he's in love with local community service.

His first run was for City Council in 1978 and he hasn't stopped since.

He said in a recent interview that he was once asked to run for U.S. Congress, but after not giving it too much consideration realized if elected, he'd be spending a lot of time in Washington.

“I love being part of the community,” Traficante said. “I never gave it a second thought. I wanted to stay here ... my heart is in Cranston.”

Asked about his age, Traficante said, “There's some snow on the rooftop, but there's still fire in the boiler.”

Traficante announced his candidacy for the Ward 5 city council seat earlier this week.

He’s seeking the local Republican party endorsement after 20 years as a city-wide school committee representative.

“I still have a burning passion for public service, and I am asking the voters of Ward 5 for their support to continue serving my community,” Traficante said.

Traficante was first elected to the city council in 1978 as a city-wide council member, serving three terms (two as council president). He went on to serve as mayor in 1985, for 14 years, took a short break, and returned to public office, joining the school committee in 2004.

“At this point in my life I offer the residents of Ward 5 the seasoned wisdom of age, the extensive experience of public service and an unbounded love for my community,” Traficante said.

According to Traficante’s candidate announcement, his priorities on council “will be to protect taxpayer dollars, continued advocacy for education , and enthusiastic support for youth programs and recreational opportunities.”

“There are many great things happening in the Ward like the Knightsville revitalization,” Traficante said. “I am asking the voters to allow me to share and contribute my public service experience towards the future of our Ward 5 neighborhoods and community needs.”

Traficante has worked as Director of Government Affairs for the New England Laborers Union (LIUNA) since 2001. He’s a member of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation board of directors, the Cranston Housing Authority board, the Providence Cranston Workforce Development board, Chairperson of the state-wide Apprentice Exploration School (AES) board of directors (run in collaboration with Cranston Public Schools and the New England Laborers Union), and serves on several Construction Craft Laborers’ vocational school advisory boards in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, according to his campaign.

A standout football player and wrestler, Traficante graduated from Cranston High School in 1957. He went on to graduate from the University of Rhode Island in 1961 with a bachelor’s degree, and a Master’s degree in Education from Rhode Island College.

He was an ROTC participant in college, and Traficante served in Korea with the United States Army 3rd Infantry Division. Capt. Traficante was honorably discharged in 1969.

“His long affiliation with Cranston schools and avid promotion of athletics and youth sports started as a mathematics teacher at Cranston East for 10 years and as a Vice Principal for another 10 years,” , according to his campaign. “A highly successful high school football and wrestling coach, he has been inducted in several Hall of Fame organizations including the Rhode Island Interscholastic League Hall of Fame, the Providence Gridiron Club Hall of Fame, the Rhode Island Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame, the City of Cranston Hall of Fame and the National Football Foundation Distinguished American Award.”

“The recognition I have received from coaching in my life reflects the quality and character of the many young men and assistant coaches I have shared the glory and honor with on the field of play,” Traficante said. “I want to bring that same energy and achievements to the city council.”

Traficante called out what he called “the recent hyper-partisanship on the city council.”

According to the former mayor, the current state of local politicking “is not healthy for the city.”

“I have seen both sides of the executive and legislative roles,” he said. “We need to reset the relationship for a working and productive alliance for taxpayers.”

Traficante said “he wants to be a constructive partner with Mayor Kenneth J. Hopkins and all members of the council.”

Cranston Republican Party Chairman John Colasante released a statement welcoming Traficante “to the strong slate of Republican candidates for the 2024 election.”

“Mayor Traficante is a tenured and highly respected member of the Republican Party in Cranston,” Colasante said. “With Councilman Chris Paplauskas being term limited, and running for election to the RI House of Representatives in District 15, there is no more qualified candidate to succeed him than Mayor Traf.”

Democrats currently hold a 6 to 3 advantage on Cranston City Council, including Paplauskas.

“Mayor Traf possesses the experience required to work with Mayor Kenneth J. Hopkins, once reelected, and alongside the soon-to-be-elected Republican majority on the council, to continue moving Cranston on the right trajectory,” Colasante argued. “The dignity and order that has been lacking in the city council’s chambers will be restored this year, and I am looking forward to working alongside Mayor Traficante and our other Republican candidates to see that work through.”

Hopkins voiced his support for Traficante’s candidacy.

“Beyond our friendship of over 40 years, Traf has been a mentor, close advisor and a source of inspiration for many public officials,” Hopkins said. “He will do a great job for Ward 5 and be a wonderful guardian for city taxpayers, our schools and the special quality of life he helped to build in his career.”

Traficante, election, race


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  • Right here

    Thank you for your service. However, it's time to let the younger generation take the reins. Mr. Traficante could be a mentor for those interested in being part of the government. Books only teach so much but his vast experience would give them a more realistic view. Continue to teach them what a community is and how it benefits everyone. Technology is not their be-all and end-all. They need an experienced hand to guide them. Mr. Traficante can be that person.

    Sunday, May 19 Report this