LINCOLN – State GOP Chair Brandon Bell wasn’t about to sit back and watch a race for Senate District 17 in which only Democrats were running.
That was the case come 4 p.m. on June 29, Rhode Island’s candidate filing deadline. Lincoln residents Keven McKenna, Jina Petrarca-Karampetsos, Dennis Lavallee, Louis E. Azar and Hagop Setrak Jawharjian had filed declaration of candidacy forms with the Lincoln Board of Canvassers.
And they’re all registered Democrats.
Fortunately for Bell, Thomas Paolino, 24, accepted the chair’s nomination to run for the seat. The state Republican Party is allowed to nominate candidates for seats in which no Republicans are running.
Paolino had initially declared his candidacy for House District 46 but said it has always been his desire to run for Senate District 17.
For the candidates for House District 46, that leaves Democratic incumbent Jeremiah O’Grady; Independents John Cullen, Paul DiDomenico and Bradley Collins; and Moderate James Spooner.
“I’ve been a Lincoln resident my whole life, so I’ve lived in this district. This district has raised me,” Paolino said of Senate District 17. “I followed politics for most of my life.”
He added that he has become friends with Sen. Ed O’Neill through different events. O’Neill, who switched his affiliation from independent to Republican in February, announced in early May that he would not seek re-election.
O’Neill advocated for term limits in his eight years in the Senate, and he is considering a run for statewide office in 2018.
Paolino said of his platform, “Any issues that are brought to my attention, I would want to put my best effort forward to represent the people of my district.”
Other than stating he is a “strong believer in owning guns and being able to use them,” Paolino declined to offer specific issue positions, saying he will do so when “I get further in and I talk to more people and I understand more of the issues that are at stake.”
Paolino, who holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Dean College, is a recruitment and marketing director at Lifetime Medical Support Services. On the side, he has been working as a personal trainer at the MacColl YMCA for the past two and a half years.
Paolino said he has been involved with sports throughout his life and feels his biggest contribution to Lincoln has been at the YMCA, helping people get back into shape.
- By ERICA MOSERfirstname.lastname@example.org
Grow Our Economy: Attract new business by reducing regulations and taxes.
Reform Government: Eliminate legislative grants.
Repeal Truck Tolls: Stop the added cost of truck tolls that all Rhode Islanders will pay for in the form of increased prices for products and services.
Make Car Transportation Fair and Safe: Fix the car tax inequities and strengthen the penalties for those that hit and run.