Political Winds

Hopkins, Stycos set dates for campaign kick-offs

By DANIEL KITTREDGE
Posted 3/11/20

By DANIEL KITTREDGE The field of candidates to succeed Allan Fung as Cranston's mayor appears poised to grow in the coming weeks. In a pair of posts on Facebook, Republican Citywide Councilman Ken Hopkins said he has set a date for what he previously

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Political Winds

Hopkins, Stycos set dates for campaign kick-offs

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The field of candidates to succeed Allan Fung as Cranston’s mayor appears poised to grow in the coming weeks.

In a pair of posts on Facebook, Republican Citywide Councilman Ken Hopkins said he has set a date for what he previously teased as a “major announcement” regarding his 2020 plans.

“Something special is about to happen in Cranston,” he wrote in the first post on March 5. The second post, from March 8, provides additional details, indicating an event has been scheduled for Monday, April 13, at Cranston Country Club for his announcement.

“You are all invited,” the second post reads. “All aboard the H train.”

On Tuesday, Democratic Citywide Councilman Steve Stycos posted a photo on his newly created Twitter account featuring himself and a group of people – including Ward 3 Councilman John Donegan – preparing what appear to be invitations. The materials in the picture include a “Stycos 2020” logo.

“Stay tuned for a major announcement,” the tweet reads.

More details are provided on the councilman’s website, including plans for a “special campaign announcement” on Tuesday, March 24, at the Pub on Park.

The field of prospective candidates to succeed Fung – who was first elected in 2008 and cannot seek reelection due to term limits – has long been the subject of speculation.

Republican City Council President Michael Farina, who has long been open about his interest in the mayor’s office, officially launched his campaign in January.

The potential entry of Hopkins – who is in his second term on the council – into the race would set up a primary on the GOP side. Another Republican, Ward 5 Councilman Chris Paplauskas, has also said he is “seriously considering” a mayoral bid and plans to make a decision by the spring.

Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung, a longtime Republican activist and the mayor’s wife, has said she considered a mayoral run before opting instead to seek the District 15 House of Representatives seat currently held by Democratic Speaker Nicholas Mattiello.

On the Democratic side, Stycos – who is in his fifth term on the council and cannot seek reelection this year due to term limits – has long been considered a likely mayoral candidate. He, too, has previously acknowledged giving strong consideration to a run.

Maria Bucci, a former Democratic Ward 4 councilwoman, has been raising funds and is considered another likely candidate for the mayor’s office. House Deputy Speaker Charlene Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston) has also said she is mulling a mayoral run.

Cortellessa plans District 27 Senate bid

Republican Pat Cortellessa, a former candidate for Providence mayor and Rhode Island secretary of state, plans to challenge state Sen. Hanna Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick) this November.

“This opportunity came up … I’m going to give it the best shot I can,” he said.

Cortellessa said based on District 27 results from the 2016 and 2018 elections, he believes defeating Gallo – who was first elected in 2002 – is within reach. He also said he believes having President Donald Trump at the top of the ticket this year will help drive turnout in his favor.

“We need to get that message out that if you’re a Trump supporter and a Republican with a conservative agenda – pro-business, pro-Second Amendment, pro-life … if we stick together, I can win this seat,” he said.

Cortellessa, 63, was born in Providence and has lived in Cranston for roughly two decades. He and his wife have three children. He is employed as a security specialist for Procaccianti Companies.

He was a candidate for Providence mayor in both 1998 and 2002, although he did not qualify for the ballot on either occasion.

“It was a protest against corruption,” he said of his mayoral campaigns, which came during the tenure of Buddy Cianci.

He added: “I believe in people who work hard, based on merit.”

In his campaign for secretary of state, Cortellessa earned more than 32 percent of the vote statewide. Democrat Nellie Gorbea won reelection to the seat with more than 67 percent of the vote. Despite the margin, he said the experience was rewarding and will benefit his campaign this year.

He outlined a set of key priorities, starting with addressing what he sees as mismanagement at the Rhode Island Veterans Home and Gov. Gina Raimondo’s proposal that would ask residents of the facility to pay 100 percent of their monthly income rather than the current 80 percent figure. He called for the creation of a special task force to address the issue and investments in physical upgrades to the facility.

“It’s horrendous what’s transpired up there,” he said. “If I am elected, I want to sit on the veterans committee. I’ll get down to the facts of how that whole thing transpired.”

Citing the controversy surrounding the Rhode Island Convention Center and the looming budget gaps the state is facing, Cortellessa said he hopes to position himself as an advocate for taxpayers against a state government he sees as corrupt and wasteful. He said he supports an audit of the Convention Center.

He said he also intends to advocate for small businesses and push to end state taxes on Social Security benefits.

“Ultimately, with all this hanky panky going on, the residents and citizens of [District] 27 ultimately pay the bill. Simple as that,” he said. “Pretty soon, they’ll be coming after more of your taxes … It has to end. The bleeding has to stop.”

He added: “We don’t need this corruption anymore. The taxpayers can’t afford it. You’ve got to run a clean ship and give people a chance to enhance their lives.”

Cortellessa also criticized elements of the “liberal, progressive agenda” – specifically gun control and abortion rights – and said that as a legislator he would be a vocal advocate for Second Amendment rights and expanded adoption.

He also favors the expansion of charter schools and opposes the state’s move to toll large trucks.

Cortellessa said he is supporting Council President Michael Farina’s campaign for Cranston mayor and is pleased that Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung plans to challenge House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello in November. He lives next door to Robert Lancia, a former state representative who plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin this fall.

“I just think Cranston’s going to be the hotbed of politics this year,” he said.

Political Winds is a semi-regular feature focused on the 2020 election campaign. Candidates or those with political news may contact Daniel Kittredge, editor, at 732-3100, ext. 234, or dan@rhodybeat.com.

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