The race for mayor got underway Tuesday as City Council President Michael Farina formally announced his long-anticipated bid for the city’s top job.
“Cranston is my home, and when elected mayor I promise to protect and to serve every Cranston resident regardless of your political affiliation or which part of the city you may reside in,” Farina told supporters during a campaign kick-off address at Twin Oaks – an advance copy of which was provided to the Herald due to the event falling after this week’s deadline.
He added: “Cranston has now proudly grown and become the second largest City in the state. To ensure harmony in this ever growing and prospering city, I pledge to work with all constituencies throughout the city to ensure that no neighborhood is left behind.”
Farina, 41, is in his fourth term as a citywide member of the council. He was first elected in 2012, and won new terms in 2014, 2016 and 2018. He has served as council president since 2017.
Initially elected as a Democrat, Farina switched his political affiliation ahead of the 2016 election and joined the Republican Party. He has long spoken of his intention to at some point seek the mayor’s office.
He becomes the first announced candidate in the race to succeed Mayor Allan Fung, who is barred by term limits from seeking reelection.
Employed as an executive at CVS, Farina is a lifelong Cranston resident. He attended Cranston Public Schools and graduated from Cranston High School West in 1996 before attending Nichols College in Dudley, Massachusetts, where he earned a bachelor’s in business administration.
Farina has served on the Board of Directors for CODAC, a Cranston-based nonprofit focused on behavioral health and addiction, and earlier this year he graduated from the Leadership Rhode Island program. He and his wife, Ruthanne, have two children, Michael and Isabella.
Farina states that he and his wife – who he met at Cranston West – “consciously chose to live, raise and educate our children in Cranston.”
“We truly love our city and we are invested in its great potential to thrive for future generations. We believe in Cranston and its continued ability to provide all children with a first-class education,” he said. “Preparing them for the challenges of the 21st century. In fact, one of the hallmarks of my tenure on the City Council and as City Council president has been my unwavering support of public education in our city.”
Farina said he has received an “overwhelming positive and bipartisan response” to his mayoral aspirations. If elected, he says, his focus will be on “moving Cranston forward while limiting taxes.”
Among his priorities, he cited a pledge to “spend [taxpayer] money in the most effective way possible”; planned steps to “improve the city’s infrastructure by paving more roads and fixing more sidewalks”; upgrades to facilities such as the Veterans Memorial Ice Rink; and a desire to purse public/private partnerships, such as the recent athletic field upgrades at Cranston West, “that benefit Cranston so we can work to reduce the burden to the taxpayer.”
An accompanying press release lists a “stance against regressive and onerous property tax increases,” support for public education and public safety, and a “record of reducing red tape, [and] changing zoning codes to protect neighborhoods while allowing for responsible development” as among the highlights of Farina’s tenure on the council.
Farina also pointed to his time as council president, highlighting what he describes as a bipartisan approach that has led to action on a range of issues. He said he has “steadfastly supported our representatives and senators in their efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate the unfair state car tax,” and also highlighted the creation of a Diversity Commission as part of an effort to make the city’s workforce more reflective of the broader community.
“As a leader, it is imperative to be able to recognize a good idea. It simply does not matter if it originated as a Republican or Democrat idea,” he said. “Experience has taught me there is no partisan monopoly on good ideas and regardless of where an idea originated, if it is fiscally responsible and benefits the residents of Cranston, then it is deserving and will receive my full support.”
He continued: “As council president I have strived to work in a bipartisan and transparent manner for the benefit of the city and its residents. For me it is not about the press release, not about the headlines and not about the Facebook post; it does not and will not matter to me who gets the credit as long as Cranston benefits by my actions … As a long-serving member of the council, I have realized that a short temper and grudge holding do not move Cranston forward. I have learned that being flexible, open minded and willing to listen to everyone is what Cranston needs, and I promise to act in the most professional manner as your mayor.”