Hopkins to pass on mayoral bid, seek reelection

Citywide rep turns focus to candidate recruitment, eyes council presidency

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Ken Hopkins has opted against a bid for the mayor’s office in 2020, planning instead to seek reelection to his City Council seat – and, if the Republican majority holds, to take on the council’s top leadership post.

“I’ve had a lot of people ask me to run for mayor … But I think I’d like to pursue the council presidency first,” said Hopkins, who unveiled his plans during a recent fundraising event at Marchetti’s restaurant in Knightsville.

On Monday, Hopkins said he has turned his focus to working with Chris Buonanno, chairman of the Cranston Republican City Committee, to recruit candidates for the GOP’s council slate in the 2020 election. He also said he is backing current Council President Michael Farina’s expected bid to succeed Mayor Allan Fung.

“Things can change … Right now, it’s Mike Farina’s race, and I’m going to support him,” he said. “Hopefully, he’s the guy who wins the race.”

A retired Cranston High School East educator, former Cranston athletic director and longtime coach, Hopkins won his citywide council seat in 2016 in his first bid for public office. He was reelected in 2018.

Republicans currently hold a 5-4 advantage on the council. Along with Farina and Hopkins, the majority includes Edward Brady of Ward 4, Chris Paplauskas of Ward 5 and Michael Favicchio of Ward 6.

The Democratic caucus includes Citywide Councilman Steven Stycos, Lammis Vargas of Ward 1, Paul McAuley of Ward 2 and John Donegan of Ward 3.

Hopkins’ decision would appear to give the GOP a head start as the parties ready their respective slates for the council’s citywide seats.

Farina, who is serving his fourth term in a citywide seat, is widely expected to run for mayor rather than for a new council term. Stycos, who represented Ward 1 for four terms before winning a citywide seat in 2018, is prevented from seeking reelection due to terms limits.

The announcement also narrows a 2020 mayoral field that has the potential to become crowded on both the Democratic and Republican sides. With Fung prevented by term limits from seeking reelection, the mayor’s office will be open for the first time in more than a decade.

In addition to Farina, potential GOP candidates include Paplauskas, former councilman Jim Donahue and Barbara Ann Fenton. On the Democratic side, Stycos has said he is exploring a run, as are state Rep. Charlene Lima and former mayor Michael Napolitano.

On Monday, Hopkins said he “absolutely” remains interested in a future mayoral campaign.

In terms of council recruitment, Hopkins said one additional candidate has already been identified for the GOP’s citywide ticket. He said another candidate has signed on to seek the Ward 6 seat held by Favicchio, who currently serves as council vice president and will – like Stycos – be barred by term limits from seeking reelection.

Hopkins declined to identify either of the recruits but said he expects an announcement from will be made shortly.

“Putting the team together, that’s what I’m working on right now … I think those are really two key spots for us,” he said of the citywide and Ward 6 seats.

In a press release regarding the announcement at his fundraising event, Hopkins indicated several current and former elected officials from both major parties were in attendance. According to the release, those included Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza; Carlos Lopez Estrada, the former chief of staff for Mayor Allan Fung, who currently holds the same position for Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien; Democratic state Rep. Chris Millea; and McAuley and Farina.

On Monday, Hopkins said he has focused on “building bridges on both sides of the aisle” during his two terms on the council. He cited public safety and education as top priorities and pointed to Chapel View and the planned Topgolf facility on Sockanosset Cross Road as examples of positive economic development.

“My record speaks for itself in terms of voting across the aisle,” he said. “I think the decisions we’ve made in the last two years have made the city better.

Comments

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Donna

Mr. Hopkins should run for Mayor. Mike Farina has got so much baggage and is such an arrogant council president. I want someone like our beloved Mayor Fung. Mr. Hopkins cares about the kids like that as well.

Wednesday, April 17
Sarah H

I agree with Donna. It's going to be next to impossible to replace Mayor Fung, who has turned this city around and given us all so much pride in our city again. If his wife runs then I would assume the city would run similar to him so I'd likely vote for her. She seems very very nice. I would've considered Mr. Hopkins too who I had as a teacher years ago. He's a very nice and dedicated Cranstonite. But Mr Farina? No way. I don't get a good feeling. And I remember when he called his wife fat on Facebook.

Thursday, April 18
John M

Ken is a great Councilman and will be a great Council President. It sounds like he respects what a good leader Michael Farina can be. Farina will be a great Mayor and has been a true leader as the Council President. I’ve been to meetings and seen him in action and I am impressed.

Thursday, April 18
Sarah H

John, did Mr Farina pay you to write that? Or has he promised you a job? This is a guy who lied to all of us about TopGolf before the election before voting for it afterwards. No thanks. Plus he gives me the creeps.

Thursday, April 18
John M

Not sure what you mean Sarah, based on what I read in the Herald the Top Golf passed 9-0 and was supported by a lot of Cranston Residents but your welcome to your own truth and experiences and I respect them. Based on your comments you don’t like Mr. Farina and that is your right and it’s not my place to defend him only to state what I believe. I believe he would make a good Mayor and respectfully we can disagree.

Thursday, April 18
Donna

John, I'll agree with Sarah here. Mike Farina is a disaster. Pompous to the hilt. I've seen him up at Alpine Country Club & it's just the complete opposite of the kind and humble Mayor Fung whom we've enjoyed for years. The next Mayor really needs to be cut from the same mold. A Hannah Gallo or Ken Hopkins or Frank Lombardi would be ideal. Or Mayor Fung's wife Barbara Anne. It will be interesting.

Thursday, April 18
John M

Well all I can say is that the Michael Farina I see exhibits none of the qualities your referencing Donna, I follow him on Facebook and see him occasionally at youth sporting events and he always acts humble and approachable. I’ve emailed him with issues in the past and he always replies promptly. My son plays Soccer at West and there was an issue last week I emailed him and he replied with a resolution quickly and professionally. I don’t have the cash for the Alpine so I will let your comments rest as your view.

Friday, April 19
Jenn F

Got to go with John on this, my kids go to school with the Farina’s and he is a great advocate for all Cranston’s residents especially our youth. He only speaks highly of his wife and he is a great family man. He would make a great Mayor and is one of the few people mentioned in the article who actually have tha ability to run the city. Barbara Ann is a questionable candidate with no experience in my view.

Friday, April 19
Sarah H

https://www.providencejournal.com/news/20161014/cranston-city-councilmans-facebook-post-draws-charge-of-sexism

The idea that Farina is a family man is a joke.

I don’t know Mayor Fung’s wife. But listen to Tara Granahan and she’s always singing her praises. Who knows? The election is two years away. I bet there’s many others whom have yet to throw their hat in the ring.

Friday, April 19
John M

Went and read the link from the ProJo story thanks for that. Seems like it is from three year old story and it’ll is about an old Social Media post that was a joke a couple of years prior. So your referencing a five+ year old boneheaded post by him, admittedly stupid of him, to condemn him as not being a family man (if I read the Projo article right). Seems like a non issue to me but if that’s what you want to hang your hat on your welcome to it. Maybe you should ask him about it next time you see him at the Alpine.

Friday, April 19
Sarah H

John,

I don’t go to Alpine. I live in Garden City and can’t afford that. I’ve watched Farina at a few council meetings related to TopGolf and the solar farms and I was turned off. A lot of people are. I think a lot of people around here definitely wanted to see Mr Hopkins run. I’m an independent and if Mr Farina is the Republican person, then I’ll probably vote for the democrat. I want a genuinely kind and nice and caring person to lead our city like Mayor Fung has for as long as I can remember. Mr Farina acts like a mini-Trump. This city has no room for that and I certainly won’t vote for that.

Saturday, April 20
John M

Sarah,

I was at those same meetings and was impressed with his leadership and management of the council. This man is nothing like Trump, with your unabashed views, uncompromising attitude and insults levied in your comments it seems your more Trumpian than anyone else posting here. By the way the Top Golf will be awesome and I am sorry he voted against your interests and did what was right for the city and our taxes.

Saturday, April 20
Michael Farina

While I appreciate those of you taking time out of your days to criticize me, I would also appreciate you reaching out to me directly so we can discuss your issues and concerns. I am accessible and also looking to improve myself. Thank you to John and Jenn for the kind words.

Saturday, April 20
Sarah H

Mr Farina

You’ve given residents the brush off for years. Now you want to run for Mayor and think we won’t remember? Good luck with that. Enjoy your fancy parties at Alpine. Hopefully Mr Hopkins reconsiders and runs for Mayor.

Saturday, April 20
John M

Thanks Council President for all that you’ve done for our city and the leadership and humble attitude you showed by addressing the comments made against you here directly. This is the mark of a true leader and you have my support and vote. You’ve been a transparent and truthful leader and I can tell the people posting against you here have no substance or truth as they would have emailed you or called you directly as you suggested, they just want to use fake names and hide behind their keyboards.

Saturday, April 20