When candidates declared for office this past month, it looked like incumbent Ward 2 Democratic Councilman Paul McAuley would have to win a primary if he wanted to get reelected for a second term.
Roughly a month later, it looks like he won’t have anyone standing in his way, as Democrat Timothy Rioux Jr. won’t have enough signatures to be on the ballot, according to Registrar Nicholas Lima, and there is no Republican challenger for the Ward.
Lima said that Rioux Jr. did turn in one form of signatures as of this Tuesday, but the amount of signatures was “far short” of the 50 he would need to be an official candidate. Rioux Jr. could not be reached for comment as of Tuesday, and Democratic City Committee chairman Michael Sepe said he never had any contact with him during the process, which is why they endorsed McAuley for Ward 2.
McAuley, who said that being the Councilman for Ward 2 was his “dream job,” also said he had never had any contact with Rioux Jr., but if he could he’d ask him why he felt the need to challenge him as a Democratic candidate. That won’t be necessary, however, and McAuley is now focusing on continuing to make improvements in his Ward, which covers Rolfe Square, the Cranston East area, and parts of Roger Williams Park.
“I like the improvements I’m seeing in Ward 2, but there’s more to do,” McAuley said. “I’ve enjoyed my first terms. I’ve tried to respond to people within 24 hours. I’ve addressed every issue. I haven’t always been successful in solving problems, but I’ve at least attempted to.”
McAuley also said he thinks he’s been able to toe the line between Democrats and Republicans and work with both parties.
“I try to get along with both parties,” he said. “If it’s a good idea, it’s a good idea.”
The accomplishments he touts in Ward 2 include keeping the open space at Doric Avenue and promoting economic development on Rolfe Street and down Pontiac, such as the Dave’s Marketplace and reopening of Tony’s Pizza. However, he added that despite new businesses popping up, there are still vacant storefronts that need to be filled in the area, most notably where Benny’s used to be on Park Ave.
McAuley also said that the construction of a playground at Eden Park Elementary school, which should be ready for the start of the school year, is something that he takes pride in.
In terms of some issues both in Ward 2 and around the rest of the city that he thinks the Council needs to address, McAuley said that abandoned properties is among his chief concerns.
“We have to come up with something for these abandoned properties,” he said. “These poor residents in Cranston maintain their homes meticulously and then houses next to them are either abandoned, foreclosed on, or inherited, and nobody does anything about them. Waking up to an eyesore every day is not fair to the people that live near those properties.”
He said that he wants to form a bipartisan committee with other members of the council to come up with something different than the people who own those properties just having to pay taxes and cut their lawns every once in a while.
As for the rest of the city, he said that the capital improvements project is chugging along and there is “light at the end of the tunnel.”
“We got a good start on the infrastructure with roads being paved, sidewalks being improved upon, but there’s a lot more work to be done,” he said. “But we’ve got another year of bond money left. The public works department is doing a great job, working in conjunction with utilities as opposed to one not having the ear of the other. It’s paying off dividends.”
McAuley said that he loves doing this sort of work and wants to continue making improvements in the Ward – and city – he’s lived in his whole life.
“This is my dream job,” McAuley said. “I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 63 years, I raised my family in the same house I was raised in. It’s pretty cool when you can help out a neighbor when they call, and I’m very happy doing what I’m doing.”