With a new addition to the race for the Ward 6 Council seat, it’s more important than ever for constituents in the area to get the chance to ask questions of, and get to know, those who may end …
With a new addition to the race for the Ward 6 Council seat, it’s more important than ever for constituents in the area to get the chance to ask questions of, and get to know, those who may end up holding the seat. The Cranston Herald, with the help of the Cranston Public Library, will hold a forum for candidates in the special election for the Ward 6 seat September 19 at Central Library at 140 Sockanosset Road at 6:30 p.m.
Candidates, Anthony Melillo (R), Dan Wall (D), Marc Bochner (I) and Robert Lancia (I) have announced their intent to run for the seat and have completed the necessary paperwork to make their candidacy official.
Members of the public encouraged to attend and submit questions for the candidates in person, but for those unable to attend, questions can be submitted by going online to forms.gle/aBPnmpmLqwZqNFPv6 and filling out the online submission form there, or scanning the QR code to the right.
Help us to bring to light the issues that matter to the residents of Ward 6. Submit your questions as soon as possible and join us for a healthy discussion of Ward 6 with the candidates, one of whom will take the Ward 6 Council seat.
Below find a brief summary of the candidates’ background and stances on issues relevant to the city.
Anthony Melillo (Republican):
Having lived in Cranston for over 30 years, Melillo currently serves on the Cranston School Committe as the representative of ward 6. Growing up in Johnston before moving to Cranston, he said he considers himself a Rhode Islander through and through.
Melillo worked for the city as a food service director for 18 years before and is currently the sales director for DiLanna Food and Paper in Johnston. “I’ve never lost an election” Melillo joked. “I ran for class president and won that. I ran for the school committee and won that.”
Having worked in food service since the age of 12, even owning a restaurant, Melillo has developed a very goal oriented mentality.
“Being in sales, and I’ve been in food sales for a while, you always have a target you want to accomplish,” he explained. “I used to say if you think it it’s a prayer, if you say it it’s a wish and if you write it down it’s a goal. I’ve always written things down to make it a goal.”
There’s always something he sets as a target for his first 100 days. Once accomplished he already has a target for his next 100.
Melillo on Budlong - “I think the way they’re handling it now, with some federal funds to help with that and get it going, I think that will help,” he said. “It’s a catch 22. I know why we have to have the pool. I know it’s great, but I understand why it’s been closed for so many years. I think the mayor, and I also believe the councilwoman in ward 2 are working together which is how it should be, are working to move the pool forward.”
The focus of Melillo’s concerns, when it comes to Budlong pool, are that the fiscal responsibility for its repair is not put solely on the shoulders of the people of Cranston, he explained. He further said that he felt the way the Hopkins administration has been working towards that has been successful.
Melillo on Tent City - Melillo referenced the “tent city,” homeless encampments, and occasionally protests, that made news locally and statewide after, one appeared on the steps of the State House and several appeared in Cranston.
“I know it impacted the residents of ward 6,” he explained. “It made for some news, and I think that we have quite a bit of the unhoused living in Cranston right now on the Howard complex. The move to make sure the tent city was built elsewhere, I think, was something I’d have been advocating as well.”
Marc Bochner (Independent):
Having lived in Cranston his whole life, Bochner moved to Ward 6, where he is running for a Council seat, 22 years ago at the age of 18. Growing up in Cranston, attending Stone Hill Elementary and eventually graduating from Cranston West, all helped to put Bochner on a path that led to his decision to run for the open seat.
“I’m running independently for a reason,” he explained. “People over politics. Running as an independent I do not have to listen to how a party wants me to vote. I don’t have pressure to do that. There’s actually been at least one councilman who has left his party to go to a different party after he was elected because of that pressure.”
What’s wrong, and how do I fix that? Those are the questions that Bochner learned to ask at a young age as he naturally developed an urge to help people alleviate their problems, whether they be health related or otherwise. After receiving his degree in Exercise Science and Kinesiology and doing an internship at Olympic Physical Therapy in Middletown, Bochner applied for a position in physical therapy. The whole time he was working on his degree and internship he taught martial arts.
Bochner on Budlong - “So I understand both sides,” Bochner commented. “When you make decisions you make it on the data, not on feelings. With that being said, I think both sides want one similar thing to open the pool. So, how can we functionally open the pool so we can start using it. Whether you want to reduce it to a third of the size or keep the size, if it’s not open nothing matters.”
Bochner said that the first thing is to find out how to get a pool open. He said he believes what we need is the data that will say what the fastest and most cost effective way to bring a pool to the people. If that is to maintain its current size, then moving forward with that is what makes sense, if after it is open the numbers say that size is not necessary then maybe that is when the time will come to start looking at resizing the pool.
Bochner on transparency - Bochner said that he feels one of the issues that needs to be addressed politically is transparency, which is one reason he believes running as an independent gives him an edge.
“For instance when you tell people that Garden City School is millions of dollars over budget, most people don’t know that,” he said. “I know you have funds that are paying for it, but ultimately you need to go back to the taxpayers and ask for more money to cover that. People should know that. When it was just $100,000 over budget someone should have asked what’s going on and let the people know.”
Bochner said that he believes that no one is more qualified to spend your own money than you, especially including the government. The more taxes you pay, he said, the less money you have to spend on the things you need and what matters.
Dan Wall (Democrat):
While running as a Democrat, Wall said that he doesn’t feel political affiliations should interfere in providing the people of Cranston with a better city.
“I ran as an unaffiliated candidate for my four terms on the school committee,” Wall said. “When I was on the school committee I served everyone. I was proud of the fact that the school committees I served on and the ones I presided over were very nonpartisan.”
Wall said that in his time on the school committee he had multiple times when it was his responsibility to appoint someone. When people would resign from the school committee for various issues, Wall said that he appointed both republicans and democrats to open positions.
“That’s the way I wanted it,” Wall explained. “I tried to appoint the best person to the job each time. The school committee is nonpartisan for a reason.”
A teacher in Providence for over 25 years, Wall used his experience as a teacher and as a parent of two students who graduated from Cranston West to help him in his time on the Cranston School Committee. He served 4 terms, 8 years, as a member of the school committee in Cranston serving as chairman of the committee for his final two terms.
Wall on Budlong - “Without having all the ins and outs, the cost and the price, I think we need a pool,” Wall said about the issue. “I think we need Budlong pool. I think that we can use those ARPA funds, and we should have a Budlong pool that is basically the same basic structure. It doesn’t matter what part of the city you live in. You can walk through every neighborhood, my neighborhood and my own kids, no matter where you go in the city you’ll hear of a lot of people who learned to swim at that pool. We should focus on rebuilding Budlong as best we can and repairing it as best we can.”
Wall said that he believes that when it comes down to the best way to handle the pool, it should come down to budgeting. Wall said that the pool got to where it is due to years of neglect and disrepair. While he said that he does not currently have all the numbers and information he’d need to know the best course of action, he understands that people feel strongly about the pool and that if there is a way to budget for it then he understands why people would want to maintain the pool's current size.
Wall on City concerns - “I have noticed an increase in speeding the last few years,” Wall said. “We have the neighborhood schools here, like Glen Hills. We have Garden City. I’ll tell you parents that I’ve talked to and around this area they’re concerned by how much people speed.”
While he is not sure of the solution yet, Wall said that if elected he’d put time into looking at the issue and finding a problem.
While speeding may be a problem in ward 6, it’s not the only one that Wall has his eye on.
“I’m just starting to hear rumbles of this, and I know Mr. Reilly had issues prior to him resigning, but people are saying that they aren’t getting answers about this,” Wall began. “In the area around Mayfield Street are talking about a carwash that is expected to go in. I’m hearing rumors that people in the area are very concerned with it. That’s something that I plan to work on.”
Robert Lancia (Independent):
Lancia served as a State Representative as part of the Republican Party from 2015 to 2018 for District 16. He ran United States House of Representatives in the state’s second Congressional District in 2020 and was in the lead until write-in ballots were counted leading to the reelectio0n of Jim Langevin. In 2022 he announced he would be running for the office again, until he was asked to step aside by his party.
“I had done that in 2018 when I was going to run for Lieutenant Governor, but had stepped aside twice while playing the good soldier, or in my case the good sailor,” Lancia explained. “Ultimately, the candidate I stepped aside for did not win. However, having stepped aside several times and never really feeling supported by the party, I decided after this last election in 2022 that I was going to become an independent. Now my wife and I are both registered independents.”
In addition to a varied political career, Lancia has lived a long and interesting life as a Navy Chaplain and educator. Currently finishing his fifth degree at Providence College, a Master’s of Education with a focus in Urban Teaching of Social Studies, Lancia said that it was only as classes finished that he decided to run for the local Ward 6 Council seat.
Lancia on Budlong - “I grew up in Cranston. I’m a kid that used to walk to the Budlong Pool every single day when I was a kid. You know what the big thing was every year, being old enough, or brave enough, to jump off the high board at the pool in the deep end. That was a right of passage. To see that they’ve dilly dallied for four years and not done anything. I remember Allan Fung’s big thing every year was jumping into that big pool in a suit. That always cracked me up. I’m with the group that wants to maintain that pool.”
Lancia said that he doesn’t have a problem with other facilities, even mentioning that he thinks it was great to open the new splash pad at Park Bain recently. He said before his recent knee surgery he was walking every day and saw the process of putting in the splash pad come together, and thought it was a good idea.
Despite how well that project turned out, he still feels that it’s important to maintain the pool at its current size and keep a piece of Cranston’s history in tact.
Lancia on funding - Lancia said in his experience about 80 to 90% of a city’s budget goes to education. When he was in position as a state representative the state government only spent about $2 billion on education across the state. Personally, he would like to see the US Department of Education shut down, along with its $70-$80 billion budget, and divide their funds among the states. He said he believes that it will lower tax rates while also opening up new opportunities throughout the states to support kids and education.
“I think we need to relocate that,” he said of a plan that would go directly against the position of the current administration. “I also think we can use our Federal delegation to get funds to build something state-of-the-art. Even other police departments were coming from all over to use that facility. So, let’s build something that’s worthy of our police forces and give them something that we can be proud of. We have an excellent police force and fire department. Let’s support them.”