Michael J. Sepe, Cranton's longtime Democratic City Chairman, is running to be mayor in Cranston's November 2016 election. The move comes as Mayor Allan Fung faces the fallout of a State Police report criticizing management of the city's Police Department and the city administration.
"Right now, I think the city needs new leadership and we have to go in a new direction, especially with all the things that are happening now with this police report," Sepe tells RIPR, "and how the mayor interfered with the Police Department. I don't think the mayor's been truthful with the taxpayers of the City of Cranston."
Sepe said he has put $25,000 into his campaign account and plans to formally announce his run on October 4
Sepe has been Cranston's Democratic chairman since 1997. The son of a longtime former Cranston state rep and Democratic city chairman, Sepe lost the Cranston's mayoral race to Michael Traficante in 1994. Sepe is a former Cranston City Council president and he once ran an unsuccessful race for state rep.
Fung has not responded to interview requests on the state police report due to be released at a City Council meeting Monday night. A letter by state police Colonel Steven O'Donnell outlining the report said it "identified numerous managerial issues, both within the police department and the City's administration."
A top Fung aide, Carlos Lopez, said the mayor got a copy of the report from O'Donnell Friday evening.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, Fung said he plans to seek an advisory opinion from Attorney General Peter Kilmartin about the public release of the state report:
“A preliminary review of this report by City Solicitor Christopher Rawson revealed the confidential nature of much of its contents, including personally identifiable health information, confidential personnel matters, pending litigation, and investigations," Fung said. "In response to these concerns, Solicitor Rawson and I delivered a copy of the assessment report to the Office of Attorney General Peter Kilmartin. I have formally requested an advisory opinion from the Attorney General as to which contents may be appropriate for public disclosure."
Fung said his intention "has always been transparency about this report and I await the opinion from the Attorney General’s office about what portions may be public. In addition, I have called for a meeting with the City Council on Wednesday to update them and allow access to the report.”
Fung, who lost the governor's race to Democratic Gina Raimondo last year, has been a popular figure in Cranston since taking office in 2009.
Sepe said he expects Fung to seek re-election, "but that could all change within the next month or so." The Democrat said he is not aware of any other potential candidates.
"I think I would have a good shot of getting the [Democratic] party's support and the party's backing," Sepe said. He believes he would also gain backing from some former Traficante supporters who are now unaffiliated voters.
Sepe, who has an accounting practice in Cranston, said he plans to call for improving Cranston schools and the city's infrastructure and expanding tax breaks for the elderly.
This post has been updated.