By DANIEL KITTREDGE Chris Paplauskas, a Republican entering his fourth term representing Ward 5, is poised to serve as the next president of the City Council. Paplauskas on Monday confirmed that the council's Republican caucus has unanimously backed him
Chris Paplauskas, a Republican entering his fourth term representing Ward 5, is poised to serve as the next president of the City Council.
Paplauskas on Monday confirmed that the council’s Republican caucus has unanimously backed him for the president’s role. Ed Brady, who represents Ward 4, will serve as the council’s vice president.
“I’m also humbled by it, that my colleagues would put their faith in me,” said Paplauskas, who won reelection without opposition this fall. “I certainly appreciate the nod to do it. I look forward to the extra work and the extra responsibility it will be. I’m going into my seventh year, and I think I’m up to the challenge. I know there’s going to be a lot of curveballs thrown at me along the way and things, but I’m dedicated every day to Cranston. That doesn’t change.”
He added: “My main focus is going to be navigating the back-end of the pandemic and really pushing the fiscal responsibility that Mayor Fung has done the last 10, 12 years.”
Republicans will continue to hold a 5-4 edge on the council in the next term, although there will be several new faces. All three current citywide members – Council President Michael Farina, Steve Stycos and Mayor-elect Ken Hopkins – are departing, as is five-term Ward 6 Councilman Michael Favicchio.
The council’s Democratic caucus has selected Ward 3 Councilman John Donegan as minority leader.
Paplauskas said in his role leading the council, he aims to focus on bringing new “responsible economic development into the city” while finding ways to support existing businesses as the pandemic wears on.
“Every single industry’s taken a hit with COVID … I’m really going to focus a lot on helping small businesses any way we can, trying to be creative, thinking outside of the box, really being there for them, so that when this pandemic’s over they’re still here and partners in the city,” he said.
In terms of specifics, he said: “Stay tuned. There’s a couple of things I’m working on that I’m not ready to announce yet.”
Inaugural festivities will have a decidedly different look this year, with the proceedings to be conducted almost entirely virtually. Paplauskas said he is disappointed for the new council members and the mayor-elect, but that like Hopkins, he hopes some form of alternative celebration can be held in the spring.
“That’s a big night for your family and your friends … I really feel bad for them, but we’ve got to be safe and do it on Zoom,” he said.
There will be business to address as the new council convenes virtually for the first time on Jan. 4. Paplauskas said the current plan calls for the body to adopt the current council’s rules temporarily, with the Rules Committee to meet at some point in the weeks ahead to consider any changes.
David DiMaio will remain as the council’s auditor and budget analyst, Paplauskas said, while attorney Stephen Angell has been chosen to serve as the body’s legal counsel.
Paplauskas said he has made selections regarding which council members will chair the body’s various committees but would hold off on making an announcement until the inauguration. The same was the case for Municipal Court judge appointments.
The incoming council president spoke highly of his colleagues, saying he hopes to foster a “bipartisan effort” that draws on the strengths of each of the other eight members.
“I look forward to having a great working relationship with everybody, regardless of party,” he said, adding: “I think that everybody brings something to the table – different backgrounds, different life experiences, different jobs. That’s huge. A lot of us have school-age children. It’s definitely a diverse group, and I’m really looking forward to it.”
He also addressed his relationship with Hopkins, whom he endorsed during the GOP mayoral primary.
“I’ve had a great relationship with the Fung administration, and I hope to have a great relationship with the Hopkins administration,” he said. “I think at the end of the day, regardless of political party or your position, we all want to move Cranston forward.”