Cranston Ward 2 Debate Last Night

It sounds like this was a lively debate. I’m sorry I had to miss it, but we already had an important commitment to honor — the publication party for The Book of Regrets, a poetry collection published by Little Pear Press, which I’ll say more about soon. The summary of the debate seems to focus more on the clashes between Navarro and Castellone, so if others can add comments fleshing out what was covered, that would be great. From Projo:

CRANSTON — Emilio L. Navarro stressed his “lifelong commitment” to the Democratic Party, drawing attention to his opponent’s past Republican affiliation. Joseph C. Castellone praised the city’s fiscal strength and suggested that Navarro was allied with politicians who had nearly bankrupted the city four years ago.

That was just in their opening remarks.

The candidates for the Democratic nomination for the Ward 2 City Council seat faced off last night in what will probably be the only debate before the Sept. 12 primary, and they seized on the opportunity to distinguish their platforms.

“I am the only choice for that seat,” said Navarro, 39, a truck salesman who heads the local Little League. “If you want what’s best for your family, you will give me your vote.”

Republican Mark J. Lucas, who has no primary opponent in his bid for the Ward 2 seat, also participated in the debate, held at the Central Library, on Sockanosset Cross Road. The debate, sponsored by the Cranston Herald newspaper, attracted more than 50 people.

The most pointed exchanges, however, were between Navarro and Castellone, 42, who appeared eager to stake out conflicting positions on most issues and, at times, ridiculed each other’s ideas.

At one point, Castellone mocked Navarro’s proposal to drain the Budlong Pool every fall to accommodate skateboarders, saying mischievous youths need structure and parental oversight. “Rather than send them off on a skateboard,” he said, “I’d like to send them off in the right direction.”

Later, when Castellone called for eliminating the fees residents pay to use the pool, Navarro dismissed the idea as counterproductive. He said the city needed to raise revenue to improve the aging facility. (Residents pay $50 for a season family pass, $25 for an individual.)

“The fee that’s charged is a bargain,” Navarro said, agreeing with Lucas. “Every little bit helps.”

Navarro, who has never before sought elective office, said the City Council should strip developer Piyush Patel of the liquor license it issued him for the restaurant Patel says would be part of his redevelopment of the long-closed Park Cinema.

That project, he said, is as good as dead. “The only thing that’s happened is weeds growing,” he said. “We need to tell Patel to just give it up.”

Castellone, the owner of Cranston Firearms, disagreed. Navarro’s plan, he countered, would doom the project. “The idea is not to continue to strangle this businessman,” he said, a position echoed by Lucas. “We need to work with him.”

The two switched their postures dramatically when asked about the council’s strained relationship with the School Committee, with Navarro counseling reconciliation, and Castellone taking a hard line.

Navarro, running with the endorsement of the Democratic Ward 2 City Committee, said the council members should “build relationships” with the school board members to find common ground. He said the department should continue to enjoy virtual autonomy over its spending. [full text]

I was wondering if the issue of the Cullion Corporation Concrete batching plant came up. The latest news on this issue seemed discouraging, as the lawyer for Cullion was quoted in the Projo earlier in the week saying he fully expected the DEM to approve their building permit, over the strong objections of residents and businesses in the area. Council President Garabedian said that there will be another hearing of the City Council to solicit testimony from the DEM about the project.

3 thoughts on “Cranston Ward 2 Debate Last Night

  1. The debate was well attended and Elizabeth Seal of the Cranston Herald did a great job with the questions. The audience provided a few good ones, too. There were some questions I expected, and some I did not. But that is what a debate is supposed to be – a test of your ability to think on your feet.

    The concrete plant was the subject of the very first question. As expected, all three candidates were against it but each offered a different approach. Castellone called the permit illegal. Navarro wanted to change the permitting process. I wanted to support the Council in its investigation and then change the building permit and zoning regulations.

    Last night the Council unanimously approved a resolution to direct the Zoning Board of Review to revoke the concrete batching permit. Should the Zoning Board honor this request, this situation is surely headed to court.

    I videotaped the event and intend to post it to as soon as I can digitize it. It’s nearly two hours long but well worth your time.

  2. Thanks, Mark. We will do a post about the debate being available at once you have it digitized and put up, so please let us know when this happens.

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