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Special election today; voters to choose form 5 mayoral candidates

By ERNESTO C. ANGUILLAStaff ReporterIt all started nearly a year ago in March, 1999, when Lincoln D. Chafee, who had just begun his fourth term as mayor of Warwick, announced he would be seeking to succeed his father as a U.S. Senator.Chafee's announcement gave Warwick Democrats the ray of hope they had been waiting for — an opportunity in 2000 to recapture City Hall's corner office for the first time since Charles Donovan left in 1993.However, the electoral timetable was upset by the untimely death of Sen. John Chafee, who had been looking forward to the time when he could finally “come home.”From there, Gov. Lincoln Almond made the widely-anticipated decision of appointing the young mayor to fill his father's seat, giving him some of the advantages of incumbency.Chafee's departure from the chief executive's office led to the ascension of City Council President Gerald Gibbons to the top post, as mandated by the City Charter. It also initiated the 90-day countdown to the special election to determine who would serve out Chafee's term.To be sure, the winner of today's contest will have a relatively short period in the mayor's office before the next election. But, in the light of upcoming contract negotiations, that time is bound to prove eventful. A victory may be a mixed blessing, especially if that person chooses to seek reelection in November.In any event, the unexpected series of events of the past several months has provided several “what if” questions:What if Chafee had chosen to maintain his mayoral office while doubling as a U.S. senator? (Which he could have done — there is no law binding him to hold only one office.) What if Carlo Pisaturo had backed George Zainyeh in the last mayoral election and been able to maintain his ties with his fellow Democrats well enough to hold on to the council presidency? Would he be acting mayor right now and the Democratic Party's “favorite child?” What if Al Gemma had never renounced his Democratic affiliation? Would he even be running right now?So the story will not be complete until Election Day in November.Who knows? Perhaps the field of candidates will look very Similar. Several sources have indicated Neil Corkery is planning to make a second charge for the Democratic endorsement. Gemma has already stated he will run again if he is not successful today. And Cool Moose Timothy Rossano will certainly be hoping five time's a charm.To assist readers in today's vote, the Beacon has compiled the following profiles of the five candidates, listed in alphabetical order.Scott Avedisian• Party affiliation: Republican.• Date of birth: Jan. 16, 1965 (35 years old).• Place of birth: Providence, RI.• Current occupation: Warwick City Councilman (Ward 1).• Past occupations: Administrator, Rhode Island Department of Human Services; Deputy Director, Governor's Office of Community Relations, Constituent Affairs, and Municipal Relations.• Educational background: Completed graduate-level courses at the University of Rhode Island; 1987 graduate of Providence College; 1983 graduate of Pilgrim Iligh School.• Military background: None.• Amount of money raised during this campaign: $57,371.• Amount of money spent during this campaign: $55,803.• Elected offices held: Warwick City Council, Ward 1 (elected in 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, and 1998).• What is the single, most important issue in this campaign?: “Preserving our quality of life through stable taxes, environmental quality, and good education. I seek to expand on my work and that of Lincoln Chafee.”• Assuming you could not vote for yourself in this election, which one of your opponents would you vote for and why?: (Did not respond.)• If you are not successful in your bid for mayor, will you run for elected office in November?If yes, please specify which office you will seek: “That would be another decision for another day.”Jeffrey Butler• Party affiliation: None. (Butler has filed forms that will affiliate him with the Reform Party; however, they will not clear before the election.)•Date of birth: June 25, 1964 (35 years old).• Place of birth: Warwick, RI.• Current occupation: President/Chief Executive Officer, New England Audio Visual, Inc.; president, DR, Inc.; owner, Dear Hearts Ice Cream.• Past occupations: Behavioral specialist and recreation director, The Groden Center (1987-1992); counselor, St. Aloysius Home (1985-1987).• Educational background: Attended Providence College (1988-1989); attended the Community College of Rhode Island (1984-1985); 1982 graduate of Veterans Memorial High School.• Military background: None.• Amount of money raised for this campaign: $6,000.• Amount of money spent on this campaign: $18,200.• What is the single, most important issue of this campaign?: “To show the taxpayers of Warwick that I managed my campaign like I will manage their tax money and City Hall. I surrounded myself with qualified professionals.”• Assuming you could not vote for yourself in this election, which one of your opponents would you vote for and why?: “Out of all the people that were vying for the office since November, to answer your question, Neil Corkery would have been my choice. We shared many of the same views on education and health care.”• If you are not successful in your bid for mayor, will you run for elected office in November? If yes, please specify which office you will seek: “If the taxpayers are frustrated with the system of political patronage and mismanagement of your tax money, you should make a change now. I will only run again in November if I receive tremendous support from the voters showing me you really want change.”Al Gemma• Party affiliation: None.• Date of birth: Jan. 27, 1939 (61 years old).• Place of birth: Providence, RI.• Current occupation: Owner, Gemma's Auto Body.• Educational background: Attended Brown University (1957-1959); attended Providence College (1956-1957); 1956 graduate of Mt. Pleasant High School, Providence.• Military background: Enlisted, U.S. Army (1959); placed on active duty (1959-1960); Private, First Class, U.S. Army Reserve (1962-1967).• Amount of money raised for this campaign: $6,200.• Amount of money spent on this campaign: $15,000.• Elected offices held: Warwick City Councilman, Ward 7 (elected in 1992, 1994, and 1996); State Constitutional Convention (1985).• What is the single, most important issue in this campaign?: “It's the economy and whom can you trust to side with the people based on past performance in office. I was the first candidate to point out the deficit.”• Assuming you could not vote for yourself in this election, which one of your opponents would you vote for and why?: “Stupid question. Does not compute.”• If you are not successful in your bid for mayor, will you run for elected office again in November? If yes, please specify which office you will seek: “Yes. Mayor. 20 percent or less of the electorate will turn out in this special election. 70 percent will come out in November for (an) open presidential election. Higher turnout definitely (will play) in my favor.”Gerald Gibbons• Party affiliation: Democrat.• Date of birth: July 30, 1934 (65 years old).• Place of birth: Providence, RI.• Current occupation: Acting Mayor, City of Warwick.• Past occupations: Purchasing agent, City of Warwick; Production manager, ITT Hamel-Dahl.• Educational background: Attended Northeastern University (no date provided); attended Bryant College (no date provided); attended the University of Rhode Island (no date provided); 1952 graduate of Aldrich High School.• Military background: Enlisted, U.S. Navy (1952-1955); served on U.S.S. Putnam DD757.• Amount of money raised for this campaign: Approximately $100,000.• Amount of money spent on this campaign: Approximately $100,000.• Elected offices held: Warwick City Council, Ward 2 (elected in 1974, 1976, 1978, 1997, and 1998). Served as City Council President for three of those terms. • What is the single, most important issue of this campaign?: “Fiscal accountability.”• Assuming you could not vote for yourself in this election, which one of your opponents would you vote for and why?: (Did not respond.)• If you are not successful in your bid for mayor, will you run again for elected office in November? If yes, please specify which office you will seek: “Undecided.”Timothy Rossano• Party affiliation: Cool Moose.• Date of birth: September 22, 1964 (35 years old).• Place of birth: Warwick, RI.• Current occupation: Business manager, Techni-Cal, Inc.• Past occupations: Owner, Rossano Production; shipping and customer service, Federal Products; employee, Electric Boat; proprietor, Casey's Bait and Tackle; employee, Cedar Crest Nursing Center; laborer, Driftwood Nursery; carrier, Warwick Beacon.• Educational background: 1986 graduate of Shipfitter School; 1983 graduate of Military Police School; 1982 graduate of Pilgrim High School.• Military background: Enlisted, 545th Military Police Company of First Cavalry Division in Ft. Hood, Texas (1982-1984).• Amount of money raised for this campaign: None.• Amount of money spent on this campaign: $119.17.• Elected offices held: None.• What is the single, most important issue of this campaign?: “I think we can all agree that our children are the most important part of all our lives. So I will make the stand that our children and their lives are of the utmost importance.”• Assuming you could not vote for yourself in this election, which one of your opponents would you vote for and why?: “If I weren't running for mayor I would most likely not vote at all. I don't see any candidates offering solutions to our problems but only smoke and shadows.”• If you are not successful in your bid for mayor, will you run again for elected office in November? If yes, please specify which office you will seek: “If I am not successful in this election, I will be back in November.”


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