Who Will the Democrats Run for Mayor in Cranston?

This projo article on how Mayor Fung is going to hold a community forum discusses the issue of who will run against him next year. From the article:

[...] That means there might be some potential mayoral challengers among the attendees, said Michael J. Sepe, chairman of the Democratic City Committee.

“We’ll probably have someone there to respond, or to ask questions,” he said. “This will give the Democrats a good chance to get out there.”

Sepe said there are not yet any Democratic candidates for mayor, but that possible candidates include City Council President John E. Lanni Jr., and School Committee member and long-time council member Paula B. McFarland.

Lanni, who has been recovering from heart surgery, said he is keeping his options open. He is serving his fifth council term and therefore cannot run again, so running for mayor would be an option if he wants to stay in politics.

“Right now I’m in recovery mode,” he said. “I feel pretty good right now and I’m sure I’ll feel better in the future.”

McFarland, who served five council terms and is now on the School Committee, could not be reached for comment Friday.

While both John Lanni and Paula McFarland are capable and experienced leaders, neither (to my knowledge) has the deep pockets required to run a mayoral campaign in Cranston. Low estimates for the cost of a successful campaign run about $100,000. I believe both Allan Fung and former Mayor Michael Napolitano spent more than that. Just another reason why campaign finance reform — ensuring candidates can get on an equal playing field whether they are independently wealthy or not — is key to successful competitive elections.

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8 thoughts on “Who Will the Democrats Run for Mayor in Cranston?

  1. One glaring omission in the article: Is Mayor Fung running again? Randal Edgar seems to take this as a given; I’m not so sure.

    Speculation alert: Fung may be considering a run for state AG. There are already several candidates for the post, but with 14 months to go, there is still lots of time for Fung to make his decision.

    On Kiersten’s point about campaign funding: $100,000 is a very low estimate. As we’ve discussed here previously, it’s closer to $300,000.

    Lanni and McFarland do not have the wherewithal to pay for a campaign of that size with their own money. On the other hand, they have the potential of raising significant amounts if they put together the right kind of organization.

    While I don’t have any specific insight as to who may actually be a Dem candidate next year, I will offer this: If these two names made it into the ProJo, there are likely four more that are yet to be identified.

  2. When Mayor Napolitano ran in 2006, he loaned his campaign $ 136,000. That’s on top of what he raised.

    That same year, now Mayor Fung had loans of over $ 90,000. Again, not including what he raised and spent.

    Thus, when we’re talking about how much would be needed, the real number is a lot closer to $ 200,000 than it is to $ 100,000.

    Looking at 2010, the Mayor certainly has a lot of resources at his disposal. It should be a lot easier for him to raise money in the next election than it was in the last.

    Paula and John could put together a campaign treasury to make them competitive, especially Paula. Over the years, she’s been the beneficiary of labor support. However, it remains to be seen how much she’d get and whether the amount come close to what she’d need.

    While John is CC President, I don’t know of any instance where he’s raised the kind of dollars necessary to run a competitive race for Mayor.

    Jesse’s probably right – there are probably at least four other democrats who are currently thinking about running. I can think of two off the top of my head. I’ll wager that in another life, Jesse and I would be thinking about running.

    But, I do enthusiastically agree with Kiersten. If you want competitive elections, campaign finance reform is an absolute must. Under the current construct, the system is closing – if we’re to open it to more ideas and more choice, running for office has to be more affordable. And what’s truly frightening on this score is that the Supremes are ready to deal campaign finance schemes a possible fatal blow in the coming weeks when it announces its judgment in Citizens United.

  3. I hope, if all the DEMS show up that it doesnt take away from the real topic at hand.
    and for the record, it wont be me running for Mayor.

  4. klaus:

    The issues are going to be the same next year as they have been, well, forever — getting the schools to stay within a budget (and not sue when they willfully exceed it); providing city services (without spending the surplus or imposing outrageous tax increases); and improving business development (while avoiding damage to needed open space efforts).

    So, to me, it’s very important to know who’s running, because — for better or worse — it’s the personality (and pocketbook) of the mayoral candidate that determines the relative success or failure of these efforts.

    Recent history is a good guide for this: Napolitano tried to both work with the Council and stand apart; Fung seems not to care whether the Council agrees with him, unless he can make TV news complaining about it. In both cases, they had clashes with the Council on several issues ($1.9 million cement plant settlement, anyone?), and while they could claim some sort of “success,” it was tainted by the political wrangling.

    And in both cases, neither of them made any headway in dealing with the School Committee, although Nap should be given credit for succeeding in court in the Caruolo case — until the appeal is heard, that is.

    So while I’d be open to discussing these issues, I think the key to the election will be who says what about how to address them. Fung won (essentially, and I’m being diplomatic here) because he pledged to protect the surplus and had the budget to consistently present his message to the voters.

    Again, the glaring omission in the article was whether or not Fung will run again next year. That’s going to be a major consideration for any Dem candidates, and it’s why we’re not likely to learn any more names of potential candidates until Fung answers the key question of whether he’s seeking reelection.

    P.S. I, for one, could not stand to watch another Republican mayor playing coy about his election plan.

  5. Jesse – Mayor Fung has said publicly that he plans on being here for a few terms. He realizes it will take a while to work on the city’s problems.

  6. Oskar:

    I found Fung’s quote in a Herald story from Jan. 1 that reflects your statement.

    Still, I find it curious that the ProJo article would not have addressed it. Without a more recent statement, I think there’s still room for doubt — and fuel for the speculation I mentioned previously. In the end, it will be his filing of candidacy that will settle the issue.

    Here’s the Herald story link:

    http://www.cranstononline.com/pages/full_story/push?article-Days+away+from+office-+Fung+plans+for+the+future%20&id=1046290-Days+away+from+office-+Fung+plans+for+the+future

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