NEWS

GOP committee, mayors back Turchetta for Ward 4 seat

Posted 9/15/21

By DANIEL KITTREDGE The Cranston Republican City Committee, along with the city's current and two most recent past GOP mayors, have backed Vincent Turchetta for appointment to the Ward 4 City Council seat vacated by Ed Brady's resignation last month. In

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NEWS

GOP committee, mayors back Turchetta for Ward 4 seat

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The Cranston Republican City Committee, along with the city’s current and two most recent past GOP mayors, have backed Vincent Turchetta for appointment to the Ward 4 City Council seat vacated by Ed Brady’s resignation last month.

In a statement issued early Tuesday, committee chairman Matthew Reilly, who represents Ward 6 on the council, called Turchetta – who resigned from the Ward 4 seat on the School Committee last month – “the perfect person to represent the people of Ward 4 and the Cranston GOP on the City Council.”

The statement indicates the committee voted unanimously on Sept. 8 to endorse and nominate Turchetta for the seat “after much discussion, with only a small number of the body not in attendance.”

A subsequent statement issued through the committee announced that Mayor Ken Hopkins and former mayors Allan Fung and Michael Traficante – the latter of whom serves as the citywide member of the School Committee – have also endorsed Turchetta. The statement indicates Turchetta “made his interest in serving known in a letter to the remaining eight members of the Council.”

The joint statement from the mayors makes repeated reference to a potential stumbling block for Turchetta’s candidacy – his past affiliation as a Democrat. School Committee seats are nonpartisan, but Turchetta has been active in local Democratic politics in years past.

A full record of his affiliation with, and involvement in, the Democratic Party was not immediately available on Tuesday. At press time, Turchetta, who works as an educator, had not immediately responded to a message from the Herald.

Under the city’s charter, vacancies in council seats that occur more than six months after the start of the term are to be filled through an appointment of the council. The appointee must reside in the ward in question, if applicable, and be a member of the same party as the person who had vacated the seat.

Following the 2020 election, Republicans won a 5-4 majority on the City Council. The departure of Brady, who was serving as the council’s vice president, has left the body with a 4-4 partisan split, although the terms of the charter essentially ensure the GOP will regain its majority once an appointment is made.

“Ed Brady will be missed by all of us in city government,” Hopkins said the in the statement. “Vin Turchetta is the best qualified candidate to succeed Ed and I am urging the Republicans and Democrats on the City Council to support him.”

“Turchetta was a voice of reasonableness and a steady hand as the school committee negotiated through the extreme circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic … He has been at the negotiating table with school unions and understands how to balance the interests of taxpayers,” the mayor continued. “Vin Turchetta will hit the ground running when elected to the City Council.”

Added Fung in the statement: “I worked with Vin Turchetta when I was Mayor and I know he will be an effective representative for the residents of Ward 4 … it is important to elect a qualified person who understands the various aspects of local government and has experience working with constituent needs.”

The statement continues: “Fung noted that while Turchetta had been a Democrat in the past ‘he never brought partisan politics into school affairs. Vin Turchetta will work across the political aisle with his colleagues to do what is right for his ward and the city. My fellow Republicans and the entire council should seriously consider him as Ed Brady’s successor.”

Traficante said in the statement: “I have worked in close partnership with Vin Turchetta on a broad range of school issues. He has the intelligence and temperament to be an excellent city councilman. Vin was always promoting the interests of his schools and students in Ward 4 at our meetings.”

The statement continues: “Traficante stated he was disappointed to hear that some people were discounting Turchetta because he was formerly a Democrat. This time in our city needs a collective ‘city first’ approach to our challenges. Many former Democrats have joined the Republican ranks and made valuable contributions to our city. Vin Turchetta wants to be a Republican councilman and like Ed Brady he will always put the city first before politics.”

On Monday, Council President Chris Paplauskas provided the following statement: “The suggestion from the honorable current and former mayors is certainly appreciated. Filling the Ward 4 vacancy falls strictly under the purview of the Cranston City Council. As council president I plan to follow the process set forth in the charter. Ward 4 was represented by a great, hard working Republican in Edward Brady, and I plan on submitting a nominee to the council to fill that appointment with another great Republican at the appropriate time. There has been a lot of noise created when it comes to this appointment but I can assure everyone that the City Council will do its due diligence in appointing someone that will not only serve the residents of Ward 4 but do an excellent job for the entire city of Cranston.”

Republican Citywide Councilman Robert Ferri on Monday said he planned to defer to Paplauskas in terms of how to approach Turchetta’s nomination.

“I’m giving [Paplauskas] my full support,” he said, adding: “If Chris were to come to me tomorrow and say it was Vin Turchetta, I would say yes.”

Ferri added: “There has been pressure from the Republican committee and from the administration to appoint [Turchetta] to the seat. I’ve been hit from all different angles … In my eyes, Vin Turchetta was a Democrat.”

Ferri also questioned why Turchetta would seek appointment to the council after choosing to depart the School Committee.

“I just don’t understand what’s going on,” he said.

A retired U.S. Marine and former correctional officer, Turchetta works as a teacher at Coventry High School. He also teaches education classes at the Community College of Rhode Island.

Turchetta was first elected to the School Committee in 2016, winning reelection in 2018 and 2020.

“I think it’s a good time to take a break … Really, it’s just scheduling,” he said of his resignation from the committee in August, citing an increased workload at CCRI.

Brady, who had represented Ward 4 on the council since mid-2018 and was in his first term as the council’s vice president, cited an “exciting new chapter” for he and his family when he resigned from the council later in August.

Brady is part of the restaurant ownership group behind the Thirsty Beaver and other establishments in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. After his resignation, he said he will “hopefully [have] some exciting stuff to announce in the coming weeks,” although he declined to elaborate further.

“At this time, there’s too many moving parts,” he said at the time.

In the GOP committee’s initial statement, Reilly cited the 2020 appointment of Aniece Germain to fill the Ward 2 seat on the City Council vacated by Paul McAuley’s resignation in urging the council to approve Turchetta’s appointment.

“I look forward to a smooth transition and appointment process for Mr. Turchetta, as has been the case for other appointees in the past,” Reilly said in the statement. “When Councilwoman Aneice Germain was proposed by the Democrat Minority Leader in 2020 to be appointed to a vacancy left by a Democrat, every Republican attended the special meeting to ensure the appointment could be brought to a vote, and overwhelmingly supported the choice of the Democrats, with one abstention. That was the right thing to do then, and it's the right thing to do now. I look forward to Mr. Turchetta receiving the same mature and respectful treatment from the Cranston Democrats as Ms. Germain received from Cranston Republicans.”

Turchetta, council

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