With the upcoming election in Ward 6 to fill the open City Council seat coming up on October 3, the four candidates for the position appeared at a public forum run by the Cranston Herald and hosted …
With the upcoming election in Ward 6 to fill the open City Council seat coming up on October 3, the four candidates for the position appeared at a public forum run by the Cranston Herald and hosted by Cranston Public Libraries at their Central Branch on Sockanosset Cross Road on Tuesday September 19.
Members of the public were given the chance to submit questions for the candidates ahead of the forum using an online submission form as early as a month before the forum, and members of the audience were free to submit questions during the event by writing their question out and giving it to volunteer, assistant and freelance contributor to the Herald Pam Schiff.
Candidates were each given three minutes at the beginning of the forum to introduce themselves and their platforms before the forum moved to a question and answer phase. All questions asked at the forum came from the public, though in many cases questions were reworded for clarity or to consolidate several questions that were similar in nature. During the majority of questions all four candidates were given a chance to respond to each question in two minutes, and during the final portion of the forum several questions directed to individual candidates were asked and the subjects of those queries had up to three minutes to answer.
Marc Bochner (Independent) was concise and clear in his short opening statement where he reviewed his history as a 40-year Cranston resident with a doctoral degree in physical therapy. Bochner said his position working with patients suffering from chronic pain has given him experience being adaptable and listening to each patient on an individual level. In addition to his time as a doctor of physical therapy, Bochner referred to his position as a small business owner, who owns a kick boxing and martial arts studio, in the city to help connect him to the people of Ward 6 and their needs as someone who has to deal with the same issues of government, funding and legal complexities that face many of the constituents of the area.
“I’m running because I love helping people,” Bochner said. “I love being the voice of people who can’t speak up for themselves or don’t want to speak up for themselves. I’m also running as an independent because I’m tired of party politics, and I want to vote on just what’s best for the people of Cranston and not on party lines.”
Reading from a prepared script Anthony Melillo (Republican) talked of traveling around the ward to speak to constituents and how important the seat was to the local residents and his commitment to public service. His current position on the School Committee backed up his commitment and helped to demonstrate his feelings about his dedication to serving his community. Melillo spent 17 years as the food service director for the department of senior services and currently works in the private sector for a local food distributor.
“My public and private sector experience is unmatched by any other candidate sitting here now,” he said. “I understand city operations and budget procedures as I did budgeting for 17 years when I worked for the city, and as a school committee member I have participated in the budget for our schools that accounts for 55% of our current budget dollars. As a long-time Garden City resident my wife Elena and I have raised our three daughters and put them through Cranston public schools. We belong to Immaculate Conception Church, and I understand that finances and protecting our tax dollars are the most important things that our community has stressed to me as I have walked around the city.”
Bob Lancia (Independent) was clearly prepared as he addressed the audience. Lancia is a lifelong resident of Cranston, growing up on Garden Street, in the Auburn section of the city. He attended Park View before graduating from Cranston High School East and moving on to Rhode Island College where he got his first degree in Elementary education. From there Lancia went into teaching before going into state service for some time before heading into the seminary at 32 and becoming a navy chaplain and volunteering for active duty. He spent almost 18 years in that role before having a freak accident on his way to Iraq and eventually running for office and spending two terms in the Rhode Island House of Representatives. He is now at Providence College working on his fifth degree, a master’s of secondary education urban teaching social studies curriculum.
“Why am I running,” he asked? “I think these last couple of weeks have been an amazing couple of weeks between the pool and the Park Theatre. I loved watching the dynamics, and I’ve got to say one thing I pride myself on is being able to work across the aisle and work regardless of the party and see some of the dynamics and how people interact with each other. It was enlightening. We have a couple of issues that I think were very strong, and I hope that every resident of Ward 6 will come out and weigh in on this election, because I think these two issues, Budlong Pool and Park Theatre, are so important and I want to be a part of that dialogue.”
Daniel Wall (Democrat) gave his opening statements to the audience mentioning his time as a lifelong Rhode Islander and his commitment to serving the people of Ward 6 should he be elected to the position on City Council. Wall and his family have lived in Cranston for the past 22 years. Both of Wall’s daughters attended school in Cranston and are currently both attending universities. Wall told the audience that he is a teacher by profession and that for the past 26 years he has taught for the Providence School Department. For the last 15 years he has served as the history department chair of the Juanita Sanchez Educational Complex.
“My family Found a home here in Cranston,” Wall said. “A home that we love. When my daughters went to school and as I got more and more involved with their education, that ultimately led me to running for school committee. I’m proud to say that I served the residents of Ward 6 for eight years on the school committee and four years as the committee’s chairman. These were not easy years for the school committee. I served through the COVID virus pandemic and all of the terrible problems that disease brought to us. My time on the school committee taught me a great deal about public service.”
Interested in the video?
The full video of the forum, and the questions and answers asked of each candidate, have been available exclusively on the Cranston Herald’s website for the past week. However, seeing as the election will be taking place on October 3 we at the Herald would like the video to be as available as possible to the constituents of the city as possible. While it will continue to be posted prominently to our website, Herald Editor Ed Kdonian will also be posting the video of the forum to his personal YouTube account for more accessible viewing. A link to the video will be posted to the Herald’s Facebook page Friday morning, September 29.