10 vying for 7 seats on Town Council

10 vying for 7 seats on Town Council

The Westerly Sun


WESTERLY — Ten candidates have declared their intent to run for one of seven seats on the Town Council.

Half of the candidates are unaffiliated with a political party. The rest of the field consists of three Democrats and two Republicans. Five of the candidates are incumbents seeking re-election.

Some of the candidates are new to elected public service in the town, while others are veterans. Edward P. Morrone, who formerly served as both a state representative and a state senator, is running as a Democrat. He retired from his position as clerk of the Washington County Superior Court in January.

A manageable tax rate and financial stability of the town are paramount, Morrone said. He also pointed to the need for a strong Westerly Substance Abuse Prevention Task Force as “a huge priority” to combat what he said is a significant problem in the community.

James Silvestri, who has served most of the current council term as council president, is seeking election as a means to continue serving “as the voice of the people who can’t speak up or are afraid to.” Many of the incumbents, including Silvestri, pointed to the council’s approach to hiring a new town manager and the selection of Derrik M. Kennedy as notable achievements.

Silvestri ran as a Democrat but did not seek the local town committee’s endorsement in 2014. This time he is running as an unaffiliated candidate.

“On the local level, the reality is there’s no need for political parties because we should be working for the good of the town as a whole. I don’t want any misconstrued or perceived alliances,” Silvestri said.

Jean Gagnier is seeking a second term as a Republican. The current council, he said, placed an emphasis on fairness and putting processes in place to ensure steady management of the town.

“I’m proud to be part of the reform council that established standards and took on issues that previous councils were afraid of,” Gagnier said.

Mario Celico, who is seeking re-election as an unaffiliated candidate, agreed with Gagnier.

“I think we’ve accomplished some hard things and I’d like to be there to make sure they gain momentum and stay in place,” Celico said.

Celico said the council was willing to take a look at “boards and commissions that people perceived problems with. There was a lot of hard stuff,” Celico said.

Philip Overton, who is seeking a second term on the council, pointed to his background as a financial planner as an important attribute he brings to service on the council.

“I think I have an extremely good financial mind and can be very helpful on fiscal matters, and I bring a lot of good common sense,” Overton said.

He pointed to the council’s search for both a new town manager and a new solicitor as challenges the current council handled well. “The selection of a professional manager and lawyer with municipal law experience was huge. That was probably our greatest accomplishment. They are highly trained professionals.”

Jack Carson, a Democrat, is seeking re-election to a third term. He could not be reached for comment. He served on the School Committee from 2010-14.

Michael Ober, who currently serves on the Board of Finance, is seeking election as a Democrat. He served on the School Committee from 1998-2004 and in 2008. He was chairman of the School Committee’s Capital Overview Committee from 1999-2004. He has also served on the Municipal Land Trust and is employed by the Connecticut Department of Social Services. He could not be reached for comment.

Susan Champouillian, owner of the Maze ‘n’ Manna juice bar, restaurant and whole food shop on High Street, is running as an unaffiliated candidate. She has been an active observer of local government, attending many council meetings during the last few years. She has advocated for downtown merchants and frequently spoken to the council about development issues and the need to preserve natural resources. She could not be reached for comment.

William Aiello, an Air Force veteran, is seeking election as an unaffiliated candidate. A resident of Bradford, he has previously mounted two unsuccessful runs for a seat on the School Committee. He is a frequently in the audience for Town Council meetings.

Lorren Kleinkauf, is also seeking election as an unaffiliated candidate. Program manager of radio station 96.7 FM and office manager of its counterpart on the AM dial, WBLQ, he occasionally appears on the air during the station’s morning show and is a close observer of the Town Council and local government. Kleinkauf, who attended Westerly High School, also lives in Bradford. He could not be reached for comment.

In other races, Dennis Algiere, a Republican, is seeking re-election to the state Senate, where he has served since 1992. He represents the 38th District. Sam Azzinaro, a Democrat, is seeking re-election to represent the 37th state House district, a position he has held since 2008. Brian Patrick Kennedy, a Democrat, would like to represent the 38th state House district, an office he has held since 2003.

dfaulkner@thewesterlysun.com


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