First in a series on mayoral candidate profiles

Gerald Carbone: Warwick has fallen behind

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“If you like the way the library is run, that’s the way we’ll run City Hall.”

The words are those of Gerald Carbone as he spoke to a gathering of about 20 neighbors and friends at his Warwick Neck home on June 30. Carbone chaired the Warwick Library Board of Trustees, a position he has stepped down from now that he is a Democratic candidate for mayor of Warwick.

Carbone says the library is “ahead of the curve” when it comes to technology and serving the public. He points to the library’s Idea Studio with its access to 3-D printers, the streaming of audio and video and goggles that provide users the ability to virtually visit places.

He can’t say the city has kept pace with change. While he feels the city has a good comprehensive plan, he believes it hasn’t updated its “post-war” zoning or land use or is it “smart” when it comes to the use of energy. If elected, he aims to promote village development and neighborhoods where children can play safely and elderly can age in their community.

“We’re behind; I think that’s obvious,” he said in an interview.

Similarly, he feels the Warwick Democratic Party is stuck in a good old boy way of operating. That’s one of the reasons he’s running.

This is not Carbone’s first consideration of running for public office. He took out declaration papers when the late District 30 Senator William Walaska talked of running for state treasurer, but then didn’t follow through with filing when Walaska chose to seek another term.

In 2016 Jeanine Calkin challenged Walaska and beat him in a primary. Carbone told his backyard gathering that city Democrats approached him as a candidate to run against Calkin. He was appalled. He saw the request as an effort to displace a woman.

“Jeanine Calkin is my inspiration and motivation for running,” Carbone said.

Calkin was one of those listening from the shade of Carbone’s backyard looking out on an extensive vegetable garden. Carbone and his wife Mary and their two dogs moved to the Neck from Pawtuxet because of the extensive yard and the space it provided them for gardening.

Asked if he is a Progressive Democrat Carbone says he shuns labels. He calls himself “a true Democrat” in his campaign literature and takes issue with the all-Democrat City Council, then led by currently acting Mayor Joseph Solomon, that failed to adopt resolutions opposing offshore drilling and lay people from carrying guns into schools.

“Responsible tax policy, no drilling off our coast, no guns in our schools and a sustainable energy policy are basic Democratic principles. Sometimes I really feel as if I am the only true Democrat in the primary race,” reads the card he will be handing out as he meets voters who have a history of voting in Democratic primaries.

Carbone said he inquired why the council postponed action on the resolutions that had been introduced at the request of former Mayor Scott Avedisian and was told council efforts were being focused on the budget.

Carbone also takes issue with the council over schools. He is disheartened by council efforts to control the school department and objects to the council action to cut into the school request for additional funding while adding another $4 million to road repaving.

“For me, if it was a choice between schools and asphalt, I would choose schools,” he said.

Should he be elected, Carbone said he would be happy to work with schools, but he doesn’t see himself telling them how to spend their budget.

“If I wanted to tell schools how to run schools I would have run for the School Committee,” he said.

Carbone, who worked for 25 years as a journalist and covered Warwick as a reporter for the Providence Journal, understands how local government works. Also, at the Journal he served as a member of the Newspaper Guild’s contract negotiating team and considers mutual respect between parties as critical to reaching a fair contract. He feels he can be effective in pulling the parties together on the municipal level.

The author of three books on American history, Carbone paraphrases George Washington to illustrate what he believes is an effective means of governing.

“Study merit and reward the deserving,” Carbone says.

As to how he would apply such advice, Carbone said, “Listen to your staff and they will let you know who the leaders are.”

Carbone holds a master’s degree from Brown and was a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. He’s mapped out his campaign, having hired a campaign manager and set aside July and August to meet in person as many Warwick Democrats who voted in the 2016 presidential primary as possible. He also plans to send what has become known as a “Mother Teresa” letter to Democrats telling them why he’s running and the good things he aims to do.

One thing he doesn’t plan on doing is spending the kind of money Solomon appears ready to commit to the campaign, with a personal loan of $100,000. Carbone expects to spend a tenth of that.

“It’s wasteful spending that kind of money tooting one’s own horn. I can’t understand why he [Solomon] would spend six figures on this race. It’s overkill and wasteful,” he said.

Comments

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richardcorrente

Dear Mr. Carbone,

Welcome.

Your candidacy will only bring a better awareness to the issues facing our City. You said "Sometimes I really feel that that I am the only true Democrat in the primary race." I assure you, that is not the case. I consider myself a John Kennedy type of candidate for Mayor of Warwick. As you know he introduced the "Income Tax Reduction Act" in 1961 (or so) and the 60's were a great time of economic growth as a direct result. Although I don't have his fame or fortune, I learned a lot from him and others like him. That's why I am so committed to "Cut Taxes - Cut Spending" in Warwick. Cranston did it. Their population grew and as a direct result, so did Cranstons total tax revenue (TTR). Warwick did the opposite and their population shrank by 5,800 taxpayers in the last ten years (according to the U.S. Census)

I campaigned for 700 days in a row and spent over $40,000 of my own money to rally the 80,000 taxpayers that are paying the tab and together, we stopped Mayor Avedisian from passing 29 new tax increases!

JFK would have been proud.

Please call me at 401-338-9900. I'm sure we have a lot in common, and I would like to speak with you about the Warwick Schools as well. You said "If it was a choice between schools and asphalt, I would choose schools." I couldn't agree more but Mr. Carbone, those are not the 2 choices. It's a choice between giving $4 million dollars to the School Committee (SC) with absolutely NO accountability or spending it to improve our streets. They have received one and a half BILLION DOLLARS of taxpayers money since 2009 and they weren't accountable for that money. Now they want $40 million MORE and they have told me that they won't be accountable to the taxpayers for that money either. Their reputation has become so untrustworthy they hired a public relations firm to help them with their image. Even that measure didn't help their image. I have said that we should have an INDEPENDANT AUDIT before we give them another dime! I would like the opportunity to hear your thoughts on the matter. Please give me a call.

Thank you.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Thursday, July 5
CrickeeRaven

Mr. Carbone:

As a longtime journalist, I am sure you can easily see the make-believe mayor's claims for the lies that they are once you review the factual and easily verifiable information about him published here: https://warwickpost.com/gop-chair-files-election-board-complaint-against-corrente-for-failing-to-report-ad-hq-spending/

As this story explains, the make-believe mayor did not "campaign for 700 days" -- the actual number was 698 and he never defined what he means by "campaign"; his $40,000 was double what an earlier candidate spent resulting in barely 2,000 more votes; Mayor Avedisian did not propose "29 amendments" to the FY18 budget; and JFK would not be "proud" of someone who so repeatedly attempts to mislead voters.

"I have said that we should have an INDEPENDANT AUDIT before we give them another dime..."

An independent audit is already conducted every year by the same firm that reviews the city's books, and withholding funding from the school department only guarantees further legal actions against the city that will cost even more money to defend.

I would suggest that you do not contact the make-believe mayor before reading the many, many comments he has made on this site over the last four years. You will get a clear picture of him as a failed, tax delinquent candidate who does little more than use the Beacon website for free political advertising and does not deserve to waste your valuable time with his delusional statements.

Thursday, July 5
Scal1024

I take a few issues with Mr Carbone in this article. First of all he speaks of the "good ol boy" way the Democratic party operates, yet he then tells a story of drafting papers to run for office when he didn't think Bill Walaska was running, only to change his mind when he found out the late State Sen Walaska was running again.? That is the very definition of a "good ol boy" politician, someone who gets out of the way for another candidate based on relationship.

Second, I don't understand why you'd look at the party asking you to run against Mrs Calkin as the party "replacing a woman". Are women somehow unable to be replaced as politicians once elected? I didn't realize women were given a lifetime seat because replacing them (in your eyes) is so unacceptable. That is very odd language for a candidate for mayor to use.

I wish you the best of luck but I would suggest using your language a little more carefully. I'm sure Mrs Calkin is a fine candidate, but the way you phrased it, suggests as a woman she should not be challenged for office. I disagree. I believe the best candidates should be running, which is why I'm so hard on the failing, tax delinquent candidate Rick Corrente. I look forward to hearing your platform over the next couple of months.

PS Mr Carbone : Congratulations, you have as much to do with last years budget as the fake, lying, tax delinquent Rick Corrente and his failing, desperate, flailing, almost 4 year, $40,000+ embarassment of a campaign.

Thursday, July 5
allent

Great..a useless dumboc rat. Pandering to the unions and raising taxes is all they're good for.

Thursday, July 5
WarwickObserver

Hey "True Democrats" - you realize that Mayor is not an entry level municipal job. Neither of you have any experience that would lend itself being a successful executive.

The idea that you sat on a board that voted to approve the 3D printers at the behest of Executive Director of the library qualifies you for the mayor's seat is laughable. An oversight board is not day to day operations.

Friday, July 6
Scal1024

Thank you, Warwick Observer! Yet another commenter who sees the absolute insanity of the Corrente campaign. You make a valid point about Mayor not being an entry level position. Think of the ego involved from both candidates to assume they're better qualified than a 9 term City councilman. Like Joe Solomon or not, nobody can argue his qualifications for the job. I think there is only 1 steady hand in the entire race and that is Joe Solomon. Rick Corrente isn't qualified to serve on the City Council nevermind as Mayor. I'm not yet prepared to make that claim about Mr Carbone.

Friday, July 6
WwkVoter

I read this with an open mind, and quickly made my decision. Carbone is completely "out there". We need an *operational mayor* who actually does care about the roads not tearing our cars apart while we commute to bring in money to pay taxes. Offshore drilling, Gun control as the priority of municipal politicians? WOW

Thank GOD we have Solomon to vote for. (And I never met him, nor knew much about him when he was council president, I looked into Solomon when he was named Mayor. And like what I see and hear.)

As to Scal, Raven, and Observer, I agree with your insightful observations as well.

Friday, July 6
VoWarwick2017

As politically easy and pithy it is to say "Schools over Asphalt" it shows a lack of real understanding of what Warwick needs. Right now the roads and infrastructure in Warwick (and Rhode Island as a whole) are crumbling to a point where business and families (where tax revenue comes from) are leaving at record numbers. Without having a solid and reliable infrastructure (i.e. roads and bridges) then the children cannot even get to school and let's face it the city council should be looking at the School Board and how the money is being spent, because the public schools in Warwick have gotten so bad that the majority of our high schools cannot even do basic math (like balancing their bank account) or read at anything remotely close to grade level and no amount of money is going to fix that problem because it is a systematic problem with how/what the children are being taught.

As for his inexperience in a city job... While I will most likely not be voting for him, I consider that a giant plus! Professional Politicians is proving to be a bigger problem for Rhode Island than the spring potholes. More normal people should run for office and bring some common sense back to the problems in Warwick and Rhode Island.

Monday, July 9
Scal1024

VoWarwick2017 I agree with most of your comment. I feel like there needs to be a better balance with asphalt and schools in the budget, because the truth is both have been neglected for years now.

I will take one small issue (with all respect) to one thing you stated. You said not having political experience isn't always needed, and in some cases I agree. However, when speaking about a Mayoral election, I believe some level of experience should be required. I'd cite your comment where you said "schools over asphalt shows a real lack of understanding of what we need" I believe a more experienced politician (in more cases than not) would have that first hand knowledge. Aside from that minor disagreement I agree asphalt needs to be a bigger priority, and I also agree that the city should be looking toward the schools to curb costs. In fairness, that should have been done more meaningfully during the last teachers contact dispute.

Monday, July 9
VoWarwick2017

Scal1024 - not to hijack the comments and take them into the weeds (but that is what I am doing)

When it comes to the school budget I think this a prime example of misuse of funds in Warwick, when people push back and ask the school department to "do an audit" or "make an accounting of your spending" it turns into a giant "attack on teachers" or "don't you want the best for the children" campaign. I remember driving by all the picking "families" that were supporting teachers and wondering if they understood that it all has so little to do with paying the teachers -- or that our teachers are the highest paid in pretty much the whole country and we still have kids that are dumb as rocks - sure the Beacon will dig up an exception to highlight how there are good and smart kids in the public schools. Honestly, those exceptions are good and smart kids despite being in the public schools.

Personally, I think Warwick needs to start handing out vouchers to parents so they can take that 20+K per student per year that is being spent and let them find better options and let the public schools compete for those dollars then you will see things turn around because the administration will be forced to offer a targeted and appealing educational product to the parents of Warwick. --- Aside, I mentioned this idea to a family friend that teaches at Pilgrim (who does not send their children to public schools) and they launched into an explanation of all the 5 year plans that are in place to fix the problems in the Warwick Public Educational system... My response was - in five years you have already lost a generation of children to a broken system, why punish (or their tax paying parents) when the private schools in and around Warwick already have those plans in place. Let the parents choose and maybe the school admins will get their heads out of their rear-ends and admit that real change can be made and made nearly instantly when you get the bureaucracy out of the way.

Another way to look at it... When the government ran the telegraph service, there was zero innovation because it did just want the government wanted it to do. When it was privatized it was instantly improved upon, telegraph became telephone which (became a monopoly that the government broken up) which became those silly cellphones we all carry around.

Imagine what our schools could be like if government just got out of the way...

Monday, July 9
Cat2222

Ask me how I knew as soon as I read this article that RC would be the first to comment! Nearly spit my tea out when I read, "JFK would have been proud." If you read between the lines, it is clear Carbone doesn't see you as a viable threat nor a true democrat. Carbone certainly isn't alone in that thinking either!

Wednesday, July 11