Déjà 42: District 42 Democratic primary is repeat performance

Posted 4/10/24

Voters in Rhode Island House District 42, which contains parts of Johnston and Cranston, will likely see a 2022 Democratic primary rematch this September. All three candidates who ran last election, …

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Déjà 42: District 42 Democratic primary is repeat performance


Voters in Rhode Island House District 42, which contains parts of Johnston and Cranston, will likely see a 2022 Democratic primary rematch this September. All three candidates who ran last election, state Rep. Edward Cardillo Jr., Dennis Cardillo Jr., a production supervisor for a company in the medical industry and nephew of the current state representative, and Kelsey Coletta, a licensed independent clinical social worker and licensed substance abuse counselor, have confirmed they are running again for this seat.

“My last time, since that was my first time running, I really wanted to meet every single individual face-to-face as much as I could,” Dennis Cardillo Jr. said when asked what takeaways he took from his last campaign that he’s implementing this time. “I walked every single street in the entire community. I pulled out plat maps and I set a goal of 200 homes per day, and I was alternating every other day. This time around – I think I really would like to focus more [on] certain areas of the community that obviously need help the most and focus on the major points. Really just trying to get the message through of community, exactly how much I can help, how much I can be of service, and that I’m here 100% with the community.”

Coletta, who came within 83 votes of winning last year’s primary, plans to get an earlier start this election cycle.

She said, “I think what did me in last time was, I didn’t fully decide until it was kind of late. So, I think what did me in was just a late start, so I’ve learned to start earlier.”

Reflecting on the last election for this seat, Rep. Cardillo Jr. said via a press release, “Last election I had the honor of being re-elected by the voters of my District to represent them at the Statehouse. I did that by fighting for their interests regardless of political pressure. I will continue that fight after the next election.”

Looking at this year’s race, Rep. Cardillo Jr. said in the same release that voters in the district “rejected our opponents last election and I have full confidence that they will reject them again,” adding, “Their values are not the values of the working men and women of District 42.”

On the topic of policy goals the candidates will focus on during their campaigns, Coletta says two are improving infrastructure to avoid future floods, mental health and preventing overdose deaths.

“An overdose death is a policy failure and it’s unacceptable,” Coletta said. “And one of my goals is to work to make sure that people have access to care that they need to live.”

Dennis Cardillo Jr. listed education reform, affordable housing and showing the community how involved he is and how much he can do as the main pillars for his campaign.

He said, “Having a small child myself. My wife and I, we have a toddler. We really want to see a big push towards education, having a child that will be growing up and going into the school system. Affordable housing for the community and especially for the elderly. And just really showing the community just how involved I am, and family-oriented and just keeping everything positive.”

Rep. Cardillo Jr.’s statement didn’t list the exact policies he would mention to residents at the door, but said, “I will continue to listen to my voters and act on the issues that affect our neighborhood and have no time to engage in the petty political foolishness of our past opponents who were rejected in the last election.”

The representative’s release added that he will also take his legislative accomplishments “directly to the voters as I did in the last election.”

In true Rhode Island fashion, two of the candidates running, Coletta and Dennis Cardillo Jr., recently became neighbors.

“Since the last election, Kelsey and myself both bought homes, and we didn’t realize it, but we are actually neighbors,” Dennis Cardillo Jr. said. “We have just one house in between us. So that was a little bit of a shock to realize now that we’re going to be running against your own neighbor, so I think that’ll make things pretty interesting.”

Coletta said it doesn’t change anything and she also sent him a welcome message when he moved into the neighborhood.

Coletta also mentioned how she hopes the complaint from 2022 by Rep. Cardillo Jr. that his nephew isn’t a resident of this district doesn’t happen again, saying, “I do have to say the whole talk last time about how he didn’t live in the district – I hope that that’s not a thing again because I can attest, I’m at 4 Tarrabon, he’s at 8. We both live in the district.”

As for running against his uncle a second time, Dennis Cardillo Jr. said he doesn’t really “have anything bad to say about that.”

“Even in my last campaign, I did not send out any negative flyers about any of the other candidates,” added Dennis Cardillo Jr. “I kept every aspect positive, what I can do for the community, how much I can be of value and to show the community what type of service and leadership I can bring.”

Coletta has scheduled an April 10 kickoff event for her campaign at Taste of Italy on Atwood Avenue in Johnston. Dennis Cardillo Jr. says he is in the early stages of his campaign but plans to formally launch sometime in the spring. Rep. Cardillo Jr. didn’t say an exact date he will kick off his campaign but said he is seeking reelection.

district 42, election, primary


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