MEET YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS
Click on the officials below to learn more about how they are delivering results for our community.
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.
Representative Samuel A. Azzinaro, District 37
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.
Representative Brian Patrick Kennedy, District 38
In these challenging times, it’s more important than ever to have steady, experienced leadership at the State House. Brian Patrick Kennedy is a Westerly resident who has been honored to serve the people in the 38th District for 32 years in the Rhode Island House of Representatives. He is Speaker Pro Tempore of the House, the Dean of the House and the past Chairman of the House Committee on Corporations. Brian is a member of the House Rules Committee, the House Committee on Oversight and the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.
Brian is the owner of Kennedy Realty & Appraisal in Ashaway. He was educated in the Chariho Regional School district and received a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Anna Maria College in Paxton, MA and a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major from Providence College. Brian is an active member of many state and local community organizations including the RI Academic Decathlon and the Cox Charitable Foundation.
Brian has been a champion in the phase-out of the motor vehicle excise tax which has helped save Westerly residents over $1.8 million in local property taxes thus far. In addition, Brian sponsored legislation that was enacted into law that allowed Westerly to increase the property tax exemptions for veterans and widows of veterans, while increasing the holdings of the Westerly Public Library.
Brian is the sponsor of numerous consumer protection laws including consumer privacy of personal information, tighter regulation of credit reporting agencies and placing consumer protections on non-regulated power suppliers to protect RI residents who choose an alternative electricity supplier. He authored the law that mandates that gift cards and gift certificates cannot have an expiration date in RI and also prevents businesses from charging monthly fees to deplete the value of the gift card.
Brian sponsored the law to allow telemedicine in the State to provide RI citizens with greater access to healthcare providers, which has been utilized during the Covid-19 pandemic. Brian also authored the Pharmacy Freedom of Choice law that allows you to choose who you want to fill your prescriptions. During his time of service, he has authored numerous insurance laws that benefit our military, homeowners and the business community, including providing consumers with plain and simple disclosure of homeowner insurance deductibles for storm-related damage. Brian also worked to pass legislation for oversight of the COPAR quarry in Bradford and is a strong advocate for the people in his legislative district. Real Action, Real Results and Always Fighting on YOUR Behalf.
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.
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.
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.
Rob Cillino, School Committee
Rob Cillino is pleased to announce his candidacy for The Westerly School Committee. A life-long resident of Westerly, he is the son of Barbara (Carlesi) Cillno and the late Romeo (Junie) Cillino. Rob attended Westerly Public Schools and graduated from Westerly High School. He went on to obtain a BA from the University of Rhode Island, an MS in Elementary Education from the University of New Haven, and a 6th Year in Administration from Sacred Heart University.
Rob is well-versed in curriculum, understanding data, teaching and learning, and union issues. He began his teaching career in the Waterford Public School System in Waterford, CT where he still works today. He worked as a classroom teacher for thirteen years before moving to his current position as an Instructional Specialist in mathematics which he has held for the past six years. He has worked at both the elementary and the middle school level. This past year, his middle school was recognized by the Connecticut State Department of Education for the excellence growth demonstrated in mathematics. This involved a visit from the state talent office and Rob was invited to present on his school’s math program at the CSDE Performance Matters Workshop. In his tenure in Waterford, he has been very active in leadership roles including: writing curriculum, mentoring new teachers, training student teachers, being a member of the district’s data analysis team, a member of the district’s professional development team, and has been on various hiring teams. He also serves as the Teaching Assistant Principal for his building. Rob has also served as a union steward for several years and has twice served on the negotiations team for his union.
Rob lives in Westerly with his wife Kerri (Felicelli), and children Rocco (URI freshman), Nina (WHS junior), and Sofia (WMS 8th grade). He served as a volunteer firefighter in the Westerly Fire Department for 16 years and is a member of the Mount Carmel Feast Committee and the Calabrese Club. He looks forward to using his knowledge to help the Westerly School System continue to move forward in order to provide the best education possible for the children of Westerly.
Giuseppe Gencarelli, School Committee
Giuseppe Gencarelli is a lifelong Westerly resident and graduate of Westerly High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of RI, a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of New Haven, and a 6th year degree in administration from Sacred Heart University. Giuseppe is married to Paula Gencarelli and has two children, Joseph and Julia, who both attend Westerly High School.
Giuseppe has been in education for a total of 21 years. He started his career as a classroom teacher in Waterford, CT; after 11 years he became principal at Hope Valley Elementary School in the Chariho Regional School District and has held that position for the past 10 years. During his tenure in Waterford and Chariho, Giuseppe grew as a teacher and school leader, and with his recent administration experience, he is fully prepared and ready to assume the responsibilities of becoming a Westerly School Committee member. As a life-long educator, Giuseppe will bring a wealth of knowledge and first-hand experience to the Westerly School Committee. He will advocate for high quality education with a focus on delivering expert instruction. He understands the complexities and nuances that teachers face, especially in today’s world, and he will always make decisions with the students’ best interest in mind.
Giuseppe’s four-part educational vision is:
To inspire and motivate teachers, students, families, and community members to maximize their full potential as educators, scholars, parents, and be valuable members of our society.
To provide a safe, orderly, and secure learning environment while keeping our children’s social-emotional health a top priority.
To develop positive global citizens.
To be a supportive member of the Westerly School Committee who will help make decisions that will benefit ALL students.
Michael Ober, School Committee
Michael Ober lives on Sherwood Drive in Westerly with his wife, Tammy, and his two sons, Zachary and Nathaniel. Michael has worked for the State of Connecticut Department of Social Services for the last 30 years. He currently serves as a representative to the Department of Social Services Statewide Reopening Workgroup. Michael earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration in 2012. He was a member of the Westerly School Committee from 1998-2004 and served as Chairman of the Capital Overview Committee from 1999-2004. During Michael’s tenure on the School Committee a new Superintendent was hired, the position of Technology Director was created to improve technological platforms and applications and academic performance improved across the board. Westerly High School was renovated to a campus setting with expansion to Babcock Hall, and the Westerly Middle School was constructed. As Chair of the Capital Overview Committee, Michael worked diligently to focus on infrastructure maintenance. Michael was a volunteer for Westerly Youth Soccer. He has served as a member of the Westerly Public Schools Policy Subcommittee and as Vice Chair of The Town of Westerly’s Board of Finance. Michael is currently Vice Chair of the Westerly Municipal Land Trust and is experienced in natural resource management. He has a comprehensive understanding of Westerly Public Schools and budgeting processes. Michael’s recent experience in creating reopening policy documents for public organizations will also prove a valuable resource for the Westerly School Committee.
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.
Diane Chiaradio Bowdy, School Committee
Diane Chiaradio Bowdy is a lifelong resident of Westerly and hold a Master's Degree in Management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She has two children, a son and a daughter, who both graduated from Westerly High School. For over 25 years, Diane has been very active in serving our community's youth athletic programs as a member of Westerly National Little League, Westerly Pee Wee Football, and Westerly Youth Basketball League. She has been employed at Electric Boat in Groton for 20 years, currently as a Specialist Program Representative. Prior to EB, Diane spent 14 years in various positions at the former Analysis & Technology, Inc. in North Stonington, CT.
The combination of Diane's education, career experience and dedication to the development of our youth has ensured a positive contribution to the Westerly School Committee over the past 8 years. During this time, she served as the Chairperson of the School Committee for 3.5 years, and continues to serve as the Chairperson of the Health and Wellness Subcommittee of the School Committee. This subcommittee addresses, in general, student physical, emotional and mental health issues and makes recommendations to the School Committee and Administration on ways to ensure student success.
Diane's most pressing objective is improvement of Westerly Public Schools facilities. This will encompass buildings, grounds and fields, and will require strategic investment of operating, capital and bond funds. In order to ensure success we have to bring together not only the Town Council and School Committee, but also all other community stakeholders with one objective—providing facilities that will foster student achievement for years to come while also being responsible custodians of our community’s budgetary resources.
Diane has served the community well and supported all stakeholders of Westerly Public Schools. She looks forward to working with her teammates in continuing to serve our district and our community.