Brien: Woonsocket needs leader with vision

Brien: Woonsocket needs leader with vision

WOONSOCKET – Though it will be several months before people have to formally declare their candidacy with the local Board of Canvassers, the race for mayor is shaping up after Jon Brien announced a challenge to Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt.

Brien, vice president of the City Council and a former state representative, made the announcement last Thursday, March 12, at his campaign headquarters at 285 Main St. Citing the city’s economic status and continued inclusion on a list of distressed communities, he said he was prompted to run for mayor in part by the view of Woonsocket by others in the state.

“Unless and until Woonsocket has a leader with vision who will work tirelessly to change not only the perception but also the reality of who we are as a community, then they will continue to laugh. This is simply not acceptable,” he said.

Brien is an attorney who served in the Rhode Island House of Representatives from 2007 to 2012. As a city councilor, he has frequently battled with the administration, most recently over solar initiatives and transparency as it relates to obtaining information about the cost of city events. His father, former City Council President Albert Brien, has also been critical of Baldelli-Hunt in recent years and launched an unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2018.

Speaking to supporters last Thursday, the younger Brien said residents had been “lulled into thinking that we are fortunate” after improvements such as renovated parks, newly paved roads and working streetlights.

“This is not a sign of economic health and wellbeing, but rather the minimum standards that any municipality should provide to its citizens,” he said.

According to campaign finance reports filed last week, Brien has taken in $9,450 in contributions since Jan. 1 and has more than $26,000 in his campaign accounts. His father-in-law, School Committee President Paul Bourget, is serving as treasurer of his campaign.

Baldelli-Hunt’s accounts still had more than $40,000 in cash on hand as of Dec. 31.

Like Brien, Baldelli-Hunt launched her career in the General Assembly before turning to local office and served in the Rhode Island House of Representatives from 2006 to 2013. She was elected mayor in 2013 and is currently serving her third term.

Asked for a response to his candidacy, she responded with the following:

“As mayor of the city of Woonsocket, my main focus is on the health and well-being of the residents of our city. The city’s public safety officials and I will continue to lead the city through this global epidemic and work to put additional measures in place as needed. My hope is that all elected officials would prioritize what is of most importance: coming together to save lives above politics.”

Brien said in his remarks he will unveil plans for making the city competitive again in the coming months.

Comments

I will be voting for Jon Brien and hoping he cleans up the whole city and not "JUST" Main Street like LBH ... We have too much crime , litter and graffiti everywhere , too many panhandlers ... .. We need a REALsupermarket and no more dollar stores or pizza joints ... I hope and optimistically believe Jon Brien will be a better mayor than LBH ...

I agree with "swo", I will also be voting for Brien for mayor. We need someone who is not short-sighted. Look around to other communities. There is construction and building of BUSINESSES all around. THAT is what broadens the tax base and helps the citizens of the town. I am hoping that Mr. Brien can look towards the future of our great city and help us move forward. We have so many parcels of land that can be utilized, as well as empty plazas on Diamond Hill Rd. Let's help him move us in the right direction! Good Luck, Mr. Brien! We are looking forward to working with you.