By DANIEL KITTREDGE Ken Mancuso, a former chief of the Cranston Police Department, has been appointed to the Ward 4 seat on the School Committee. "I'm thrilled. I know I'll do a good job . I'll enjoy doing this," he said after being sworn in by Ron
Ken Mancuso, a former chief of the Cranston Police Department, has been appointed to the Ward 4 seat on the School Committee.
“I’m thrilled. I know I’ll do a good job … I’ll enjoy doing this,” he said after being sworn in by Ron Cascione, the school district’s legal counsel, and taking his seat on the committee.
He added: “I thought it would be a great opportunity, because my whole career has been kids, basically. And this gives me an opportunity to work with the School Committee and work with the [City] Council about giving them the best we can give them.”
Mancuso, who served as Cranston’s police chief from 1986 to 1992, was one of three candidates to take part in a public interview process during the committee’s Monday meeting at Cranston High School West. He will fill the remainder of Vincent Turchetta’s unexpired term, which runs through January 2023.
Mancuso received the support of four committee members – Chairman Dan Wall of Ward 6, citywide representative Michael Traficante, Kristen Haroian of Ward 2 and David Alden-Sears of Ward 5. Traficante made the nomination in support of Mancuso’s appointment.
Ward 3 representative Domenic Fusco and Sara Tindall-Woodman of Ward 1 backed the candidacy of Stacie Nunes, a parent who moved to Cranston last year. Fusco nominated her for the seat.
Another candidate, parent Kristina Milan, did not garner a nomination.
The Ward 4 seat on the committee was vacated in August with the resignation of Turchetta, who has since received the backing of the Cranston Republican City Committee and Mayor Ken Hopkins for the Ward 4 seat on the City Council.
Under the terms of the city’s charter, any vacancy occurring more than six months after the start of a two-year term on the committee or council is filled through appointment.
As was the case when the committee filled vacant seats in wards 2 and 5 in recent years, Wall conducted a process through with interested applicants were invited to send resumes to the committee. The three respondents then took part in Monday’s public interview process, providing a roughly five-minute introduction before fielding a set of prepared questions from committee members.
Manscuso, who was first to address the committee, touted his experience in law enforcement and as a coach for various youth sports programs.
Among his youth-focused efforts as chief, he spoke of bringing the D.A.R.E. program to Cranston, placing resource officers in schools, and establishing a safe post-prom gathering for high school students at the YMCA.
Mancuso – whose experience also includes eight years as an adjunct professor at Roger Williams University and more than 20 years working at the Rhode Island Convention Center – additionally spoke of his experience managing large departments and budgets.
“Those things are not new to me … Have I had that experience? Absolutely,” he said.
Asked if he would consider running for a full term in the Ward 4 seat next year if appointed, Mancuso said: “Absolutely. I’m in for the long haul, there’s no doubt about it.”
Milan, who represented the state as Miss Rhode Island Teen USA 2003 and Miss Rhode Island USA 2010, said that experience – as well as her work as the owner of a small jewelry company – has well prepared her to participate in the school budget process and “work with the community to find out what the true issues are, to really lend a listening ear.”
Milan pointed to a “staffing shortage” and technology needs as the most pressing issues facing the city’s schools. A mother of three school-age children, she added: “Who better to help form the policies that directly impact students than a parent of students?”
Milan noted she had addressed the committee last month during a meeting regarding the district’s masking policy for the current year.
“I spoke in favor of parent choice, and I hope you’re able to look past my beliefs on that day here,” she said, asking the committee for the “opportunity to show you that I am a team player.”
Milan also said she would consider running for a full term in the seat.
Nunes, a mother of two, said her family moved to Cranston last year. She said she has degrees in elementary education, special education and occupational therapy, and that she works for a financial planner in addition to her part-time work as a tutor for an occupational therapy program at a college in Massachusetts.
“I take education very seriously … I would love the opportunity to be here, to help advocate for the students, help fight for what they need,” she said.
Nunes said in the past year, she has taken part in community meetings hosted by Ward 3 City Councilman John Donegan. She also indicated she would likely run for a full term in the seat if selected.
The committee’s discussion following the interviews was brief.
“I get the sense that all of them have a strong interest in community, a strong commitment to public service,” Wall said, applauding the three candidates for their willingness to serve.
Wall then called for nominations. Traficante spoke first, putting forward Mancuso’s name.
“I’m going to put my money on Mr. Mancuso,” Traficante said, citing the former chief’s “vast experience in a variety of areas.”
“He knows the budget process … He has experience banging heads at all levels of government,” Traficante added.
Fusco then nominated Nunes, who he said he had been speaking with about the vacancy “for a while.”
“All three [candidates] did exceptionally well,” he added. “They all should be proud of what they did here tonight. It’s not easy.”
Tindall-Woodman also supported Nunes, although she added that she felt Mancuso “did a great job” during his interview.
After the vote on the appointment, the committee unanimously elected Traficante as its new vice chairman, succeeding Turchetta in that role. Alden-Sears nominated Traficante for the post, calling him “a friend, a mentor.”
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