In July Jackie Baginski gave up her job with the ambulance company she, her parents and her brother started in order to follow, at least for the immediate future, her passion for politics. She’s done that before, fundraising for candidates she likes and running the campaign of Representative K. Joseph Shekarchi.
Now she’s on to bigger things, her first citywide campaign.
Baginski is the campaign manager for Mayor Joseph Solomon, a job that has her putting in 10- and 12-hour days and getting to know a city where she is discovering hidden gems that has her thinking that someday she might move from Cranston.
Baginski believes in her candidate and she makes that clear from the spacious, rather empty looking Solomon headquarters in a shopping plaza at 155 Jefferson Boulevard, Suite 4. That promises to change on the night of the primary Sept. 12 when she expects it will be transformed into Democratic central as campaign volunteers, candidates from across the city and supporters turn out for the results.
It only seems natural that Warwick Democrats would want to be at Solomon headquarters.
“The mayor is the quarterback for all the Democrats,” she said in an interview Tuesday.
Baginski said Solomon is the best candidate for mayor as he has the experience. She said that Solomon is “committed to finding a sustainable school budget,” an issue, she said, that is frequently brought up by Warwick voters. Her favorite Solomon quote, which she shares, is, “It’s not how much money you have, but how you spend it.”
She came to know Solomon through her work with Shekarchi and Warwick Democrats. There’s also another connection, which always seems to be the case in Rhode Island. Jackie’s parents are graduates of Classical High School, attending the school when Solomon was also a student there. She said the job of campaign manager was one of those things that evolved and made sense to both of them.
Baginski has already coordinated two highly successful Solomon fundraisers and kept the candidate on a rigid schedule of walking the wards and meeting voters. Strategy goes into the walks. Solomon may be teamed up with the ward council member, such as Donna Travis in Ward 6 or Steve Merolla in Ward 8. On other walks he’s accompanied Mark McKenney, who is running in a primary for the Dist. 30 Senate seat now held by Jeanine Calkin.
Baginski joins Solomon with one or two other campaign volunteers. One works ahead of Solomon determining if anyone is home and whether they would like to talk with the mayor. They may also focus in on an issue so that by the time Solomon arrives he knows what to expect.
Those with Solomon take notes on the brief meeting and if there is reason for a follow-up – say a question about a missing stop sign – they make note of it on their phone or an iPad. Those issues are directed to the appropriate city department and Solomon is provided the information so he can make a call back to the resident.
That’s just a part of the campaign. Baginski is also coordinating phone calls, the placement of hundreds of blue, white and gold Solomon lawn signs and citywide mailers. A letter timed for the primary will be in the mail shortly.
A graduate of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., Baginski got an early taste of the political world as an intern for Senator Jack Reed. In 2009 she and her family started Professional Ambulance in Providence with one ambulance.
“We took a go at it,” she says of she and her brother, Martin. Both are trained EMTs. Today, the company boasts 22 ambulances.
Baginski suspects she’ll owe Martin a “long vacation” once the campaigning is over. In the meantime, she hasn’t slowed down.