MEET THE 2022 DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES

Get to know the candidates by clicking their portrait

STATE REPRESENTATIVES

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SAMUEL AZZINARO

District 37

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BRIAN PATRICK KENNEDY

District 38

STATE SENATE

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VICTORIA GU

District 38

SCHOOL COMMITTEE

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LESLIE
DUNN

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MICHAEL
OBER

TOWN COUNCIL

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JOY
CORDIO

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KEVIN
LOWTHER

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ED
MORRONE

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MARY SCIALABBA

Representative Samuel A. Azzinaro, District 37, Incumbent

Samuel A. Azzinaro (D) has served the residents of District 37 in Westerly since first being elected in November 2008. He is the chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and also serves as a member of the House Health and Human Services Committee, the House Rules Committee and the House Special Legislation Committee.
 

During the 2021 legislative session, Chairman Azzinaro continued to focus on the health and well-being of Rhode Island’s veterans. He sponsored a new law allowing the director of Veterans' Services to appoint an administrator for the RI Veterans’ Home who is an honorably discharged veteran of the United States Armed Forces. He was also the sponsor of another new law which allows business vehicles which are owned by a veteran entity, and is registered and authorized to conduct business in the state of Rhode Island, to register such business vehicles with veteran plates.


He chaired a commission which led to the 2020 dedication and unveiling of a new memorial to the nine Rhode Island Marines who were killed in the 1983 Beirut bombing attack. The memorial is located along the Providence River.


In 2019, he was also honored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars with the group’s Legislative Award due to his consistent and tireless advocacy for veterans’ issues at the State House.


He was also instrumental in creating the Westerly Higher Education and Job Skills Center. He helped to develop the concept for the center, obtain the funding, and secured partnerships with colleges and businesses, which is training individuals in high skilled manufacturing jobs.


Representative Azzinaro previously served for 12 years on the Westerly Town Council, including four years as its President.


He served in the National Guard for four years, and was a member of the Army Reserve for four years,
including two years of active duty. He was a Staff Sergeant E6.


Representative Azzinaro was born in 1943. He is a retired textile worker, business owner and carpenter, and resides in Westerly with his wife, Carol. They have five children, 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.​

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Representative Brian Patrick Kennedy, District 38, Incumbent

Brian Patrick Kennedy is a Westerly resident who has been honored to serve the people in the 38th District for 34-years in the RI House of Representatives.

 

Brian is Speaker Pro Tempore of the House, the Dean of the House and the past Chairman of the House Committee on Corporations. He is a member of the House Rules Committee, the House Innovation, Internet and Technology Committee, and the House State Government and Elections Committee.

 

Brian received a Master's degree in Business Administration from Anna Maria College and a Bachelor of Arts degree with double major from Providence College

 

Brian is a sponsor of numerous healthcare proposals, an advocate for business and regulatory reforms, and the leading sponsor of consumer protection legislation in the General Assembly.

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Victoria Gu, State Senate, District 38

Victoria was raised in South Kingstown and grew up fishing with her family and volunteering at the Jonnycake Center and Senior Center. After graduating SK public schools, she earned her degree in Computer Science and Economics from Harvard University. Now living on Quonochontaug pond, she is the Democratic nominee running to bring fresh, evidence-based solutions to the 38th Senate District, including Westerly and parts of Charlestown and South Kingstown. 

 

Victoria currently serves as the Chair of Charlestown’s Climate Resiliency Commission, using her professional background in software engineering and data analysis to understand the impacts of climate change on our area and how we can help our community adapt.

 

Victoria understands how difficult it is for families and seniors dealing with the rising costs of housing, healthcare, childcare, and utility bills. She will work hard to protect our environment and make sure that everyone with roots here can afford to stay here.

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Leslie Dunn, School Committee

Leslie Dunn moved to Westerly at the age of 6 years old.  She attended Westerly Public Schools and is a 2010 WHS graduate.  From a young age Leslie has been active in the community, volunteering at events, participating in clubs/orgs, interning and working with local businesses and always returning to support local initiatives.
 
It is so important to do more than just talk about the issues affecting our communities; in the past few years it has become very important for Leslie to align herself with action-based initiatives and stay involved in discussions that will affect underrepresented communities and individuals.

 

A large part of why she does the work she does is her desire to see more diversity in the community and representation in schools, town offices, government positions and business ownership.  Leslie is motivated by the hope that if the small community of Westerly can make changes there's so much more that can be done on a larger scale to effect change.

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Michael Ober, School Committee, Incumbent

Michael has lived in Westerly since 1993 with his wife Tammy and his two sons Zachary and Nathaniel. He has worked for the State of Connecticut Department of Social Services for the last 32 years and earned a Master’s in Public Administration in 2012.


Michael has been a member of the Westerly School Committee since November 2020; he was also a member of the Westerly School Committee from 1998-2004. During this time a new superintendent was hired, the position of technology director was introduced, the budget was kept in balance and the school’s performance improved. Westerly High School was expanded to include Babcock Hall, and the new Westerly Middle School was constructed.

 

As Chairman of the Capital Overview Committee, Michael worked to focus on maintaining infrastructure; he was also a member of Westerly Public School’s Policy Subcommittee.


Michael has also served as Vice Chair of Board of Finance and Vice Chair of the Westerly Municipal Land Trust. In addition, he was a volunteer for Westerly Youth Soccer.

 

Joy Cordio, Town Council

Joy Cordio was born in Westerly and moved out of the state before her second birthday, living in 8
states and Europe, before returning to Westerly 26 years ago to become a permanent resident. Joy
chose the community of Westerly as the place to raise her three daughters, and together they have
been engaged members of the town.


Cordio has over 20 years’ experience in all aspects of the tourism and hospitality field and knows the
economic benefits it brings to the state and local towns. Joy started in food and beverage, moved on to
airlines, cruise ships, and the hotel industry. Her past experience in the art of hospitality and travel led
to her current position at the South County Tourism Council where she markets Westerly and
surrounding towns to potential visitors from out of state.


As an advocate for community members in need, Cordio led a coalition for the creation of the first
shelter for homeless families in Westerly and the first program to deliver lunches to children in the
summer months. Harvest Homes and the Children’s Summer lunch program have been benefiting
residents for 15 years. Joy’s leadership in bringing people together and her work with the WARM Center
led to her employment there for nine years. Cordio worked closely with volunteers, churches, and
businesses to raise awareness and garner support for needed social services in Westerly, as well as
planning annual events and fundraisers.


Cordio’s diverse volunteering and community service including teaching people to read through
Laubauch Literacy International, driving cancer patients to treatment through the American Cancer
Society, food pantry prep for the Johnnycake Center, volunteering weekly in each of her daughters’
elementary classrooms, the Town of Westerly Neighbor Day Committee, the Town of Westerly Plastics
Reduction Committee, and mission trips to Louisiana and Mississippi for Katrina clean-up. Joy’s service
has been recognized with a New England Patriot MVP Award, an Athena nomination, and the South
County General Federation of Women’s Clubs Excellence in Service Award.


Joy spends her time in her flower gardens, with family and friends, and watching football. She is grateful
every day for the beaches and beauty in Westerly.

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Kevin J. Lowther II, Town Council

Kevin J. Lowther II grew up in Westerly and graduated from Westerly High School in 2000. After graduating from West Point in 2004, he had a distinguished 13-year career as Army Engineer Officer including deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as well as service in Korea, Egypt, Kuwait and Germany.

 

In 2006 he was awarded the Bronze Star medal for actions in combat in Baghdad. After his army career, he worked as a construction project manager in Miami. He returned to Westerly in 2019 to begin a career in music and has been nationally recognized for his modern take on the violin, performing as Big Lux.

 

He is a co-founder of the Westerly Anti-Racism Coalition and a member of the Westerly Planning Board. He earned a B.S. from West Point and MBA from the University of Miami.

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Edward Morrone, Town Council

A lifelong Westerly resident, Ed Morrone is no stranger to local and state politics. He has a
lifetime of service to the Westerly community and the State of Rhode Island. He served as our State Representative from 1980-1984 and State Senator from 1988-1992. He is a former member and past president of the Westerly Town Council 2016-2018.


A successful local businessman, he founded an independent insurance agency in our town. The
business grew and prospered for over 25 years. He changed careers in 2001, sold his
insurance business and began a second successful career in State service. He was the first
Superior Court Administrator of the RI Adult Drug Court, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs
of the RI Senate, Chief of Staff of the Senate and finally Court/Administrator of the RI
Superior Court, retiring in 2016.


His volunteer service includes Board Member and President of the Ocean Community Chamber of
Commerce, Board Member of the URI Alumni Association, President of the URI Theta Chi Alumni
Association, Board Member/Director of the Westerly Lions Club, member of the Westerly
Cancer Fund, member of the Westerly Fraternal Order of Police and Board Member of the
Alzheimer’s Association of RI. He has been honored with many awards in recognition of his
volunteerism, including the prestigious Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the
Year Award.


Ed Morrone is a proud son of Westerly with deep family roots. He is committed to helping
preserve our special community and the enviable quality of life we all so appreciate in Westerly.
He is a candidate for the Westerly Town Council determined to build on the great success of
our community and ensure prosperity for all Westerly citizens.

 

Mary Scialabba, Town Council

Mary Scialabba has been a resident of Westerly for 17 years. She earned several undergraduate degrees from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI and a Master’s Degree in Finance from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT.


Mary has worked in the energy trading sector for over 20 years. She has been President of Crossroads Condominium Association here in Westerly since 2012, and she started a neighborhood watch along with the Presidents of two other local condominium complexes. Mary served on The Joint Committee on Plastics Utilization and Commerce in Westerly that was responsible for the plastic bag ban, and she served two years with The Westerly Public Schools’ Health and Wellness Subcommittee.


Mary is currently an active member of Christ Church, The Westerly Armory, The Westerly Historical Society and The Greater North End Community Development, Inc. She is a voting member of both The Economic Development Committee of the Town of Westerly and the Rhode Island Parity Initiative for the State of RI which works in conjunction with the State Insurance Commission for Mental Health.
Fighting for and finding the proper health (mental), wellness (physical) and insurance information is something Mary wants to help all Westerly residents with.

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