POLITICAL WINDS

McAuley endorses Hopkins in mayoral race

By DANIEL A. KITTREDGE
Posted 8/5/20

Paul McAuley, a Democrat who resigned from the Ward 2 seat on the City Council in June, is endorsing Republican Citywide Councilman Ken Hopkins in the race for mayor and leading a "Democrats for Hopkins" push ahead of the Sept. 8

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POLITICAL WINDS

McAuley endorses Hopkins in mayoral race

Posted

Paul McAuley, a Democrat who resigned from the Ward 2 seat on the City Council in June, is endorsing Republican Citywide Councilman Ken Hopkins in the race for mayor and leading a “Democrats for Hopkins” push ahead of the Sept. 8 primary.

“As a lifelong Democrat it takes a great individual person and candidate like Ken for me to endorse a Republican in this year’s election,” McAuley said in an Aug. 2 announcement from the Hopkins campaign. “Ken and I came on the council together in 2017 and I have enjoyed working closely with him on many issues of concern to taxpayers and residents. I have seen firsthand his ability to work across party lines, his love for Cranston and his common sense approach to the issues that are next Mayor will face.”

“I know Paul is a proud Democrat and he did not take lightly his decision to disaffiliate to vote in the Republican primary,” Hopkins said in the announcement. “He is a great public servant and is tremendously admired by members of both parties on the City Council.”

McAuley, who had announced earlier this year that we would not seek reelection, resigned his seat abruptly following a dispute with the council’s legal advisers during debate over a proposed repeal of planning pay increases for the next mayor and council.

His endorsement of Hopkins, with whom he has a close relationship, comes days before the deadline by which voters must disaffiliate in order to voter in another political party’s primary.

There are primary contests on both sides of race to succeed Republican Allan Fung as mayor, with Hopkins and Council President Michael Farina vying for the GOP nod and Citywide Councilman Steve Stycos, Maria Bucci and Adam Carbone all seeking the Democratic nomination.

Hopkins previously received the endorsement of Fung in the GOP race.

The disaffiliation deadline for the primary arrives Tuesday, Aug. 11, and McAuley says in Hopkins’s statement that he will disaffiliate as a Democrat in order to cast a ballot for Hopkins – who he calls the “clear choice” from among the four major mayoral candidates – on Sept. 8.

The announcement indicates McAuley will “still support other Democratic candidates but his respect and friendship for Hopkins requires him to disaffiliate.”

“I have always backed up my words with action … I am urging Democratic voters throughout the city to join me and other Republicans and unaffiliated voters to support Ken Hopkins,” McAuley said in the announcement.

In an email statement, Farina responded to McAuley’s support of Hopkins and touted his own campaign’s endorsements.

“Put simply, I am happy for Ken that he has the endorsement of an elected Democrat,” he wrote. “We, on the other hand have the support of the Cranston Republican City Committee, the Police Union and the Cranston Firefighters. Is Mr. Hopkins’ plan to disaffiliate Democrats in order to steal this race from the endorsed Republican candidate? Our campaign is picking up so many supporters that perhaps Mr. Hopkins views this as his last chance to win the primary.”

The council’s Ward 2 seat will be one of the two contested ward seats in November’s election. Democrat Aniece Germain was recently appointed to fill the remainder of his term, and she and Republican Zac Sailer are seeking election to a full term in the fall. McAuley previously said he would not endorse a candidate for the seat.

Second-quarter filings in mayor’s race

While the pandemic has disrupted many traditional aspects of campaigning, the hopefuls to succeed Allan Fung as Cranston’s mayor were active fundraisers and spenders during the quarter that began April 1 and ended June 30.

Republican candidate and City Council President Michael Farina ended the second quarter with $72,468 on hand, according to campaign finance reports that were due July 31 – a figure that has him leading the field in terms of the money race.

He was followed by Democratic Citywide Councilman Steve Stycos, who reported $66,188 on hand at the quarter’s end, and Democratic candidate Maria Bucci, who had $51,395 on hand at the end of the quarter. Republican candidate and Citywide Councilman Ken Hopkins reported having $36,899 on hand as of June 30.

Those numbers, however, do not tell the full story.

The reports show Bucci, a former Ward 4 member of the Cranston City Council, topped the field in both fundraising and spending during the second quarter, bringing in a reported $35,550 through individual contributions while spending $40,612. She began the quarter with approximately $56,457 on hand.

Bucci’s overall balance for the end of the second quarter also includes $29,000 she previously lent her campaign. That puts her “total fund balance,” as defined in the campaign finance report, at $22,395.

Hopkins was the next most active fundraiser during the second quarter, raising $27,130 – a figure that includes $26,630 through individual contributions and a $500 donation from the Cranston Teachers’ Alliance.

Hopkins’s campaign started the quarter with $20,581 on hand and spent $10,818 from April 1 through June 30. His overall balance at quarter’s end includes $26,500 in existing loans, and his total fund balance, as a result, stood at $10,399.

Stycos raised $10,758 in the second quarter, including nearly $10,260 in individual contributions and $500 from the Cranston Teachers’ Alliance. He began the quarter with a $60,024 balance and spent $4,594.

Stycos’s end-of-quarter balance includes $50,000 in existing loans, the most of any of the candidates. His “total fund balance,” as a result, stood at $16,197.

Farina, meanwhile, began the second quarter with a $90,310 balance and raised just more than $7,000 from April 1 to June 30, all through individual donations. His campaign spent roughly $24,872 during the quarter. His end-of-quarter balance includes roughly $41,873 in existing loans, leaving his “total fund balance” at $30,594.

Meanwhile, the third Democratic hopeful, Adam Carbone, marked his first quarter as a candidate from April 1 to June 30. He raised no money through donations but lent his campaign $1,855. He spent $1,779, ending with an overall balance of roughly $75.

Council’s Democrats call on Assembly to fund schools

The City Council’s Democratic caucus is calling on the General Assembly to full fund a projected increase in state aid to Cranston Public Schools for the current fiscal year.

In a joint statement last week, mayoral candidate and Citywide Councilman Steve Stycos, Ward 1 Councilwoman Lammis Vargas and Ward 3 Councilman John Donegan said they will introduce a resolution to the council urging legislators to fully fund the projected $4.1 million state aid increase for the city’s schools.

“As the husband of a teacher, and the son of Cranston teacher, I recognize how difficult the past few months have been for our educators, school professionals, and Cranston Public School families,” Donegan said in the statement. “In order to ensure the health and safety for everyone, our schools must be fully funded.”

“Not only as a council member, but as a mother of two, of whom both are Cranston public school students, I recognize the need for school funding. Public education is the pathway to the American Dream and, now, in this COVID pandemic, more than ever, we must adequately and fully fund our Cranston schools for all students, teachers, and school professionals,” Vargas said in the statement.

“We need state financial support to properly educate our children in this difficult time of COVID-19,” Stycos said in the statement.

As officials at the State House anxiously wait to see whether additional federal pandemic relief is in the offing, the state has yet to adopt a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.

The City Council, as part of its local budget approval process, effectively removed the $4.1 million in new school aid from the district’s fiscal plan due to uncertainty over whether it will materialize and worries about the funding becoming the city’s ongoing responsibility. Whatever additional aid does come to pass will go to the city’s schools.

The School Committee previously approved a resolution of its own calling on the City Council to provide an additional $3.2 million in funding to the district in order to ensure contractual obligations can be met.

New endorsements

Ward 3 Councilman John Donegan, a Democrat, has received the endorsement of the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats of America.

The Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus has endorse a number of local candidates, including Democratic mayoral hopeful Maria Bucci, Ward 1 Councilwoman Lammis Vargas and Ward 2 Councilwoman Aniece Germain and Senate District 31 candidate Kendra Anderson.

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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