Former Providence Mayor Joseph Paolino has been a stalwart booster of Buddy Cianci’s redemption tour. But now that Cianci has filed for election for Providence mayor and Charles Mansolillo has been appointed Cianci’s campaign manager, Paolino is turning his political attention to Newport, where he is part of a group that wants to buy and improve the Newport Grand gambling emporium.
(Rhode Island being Rhode Island, Paolino and Mansolillo are well-acquainted; the two ran against each other for mayor in 1986 in a campaign won comfortably by Paolino).
Paolino says he is taking the campaign to win table games at Newport Grand seriously. To convert the slot-machine parlor to a full-fledged casino, a la Twin River in Newport, Paolino and his investment group need Newport voters to reverse themselves and approve the move to a full-fledged casino at a November referendum.
Paolino and his family are moving to Newport, where they have a summer home. The former Providence mayor says he plans to campaign vigorously on the referendum campaign, getting his message out and knocking on doors in the City by the Sea.
Major campaign themes will include preserving the jobs the slot parlor currently provides and expanding hiring with the introduction of table games, which has shown to increase jobs at Twin River. Paolino also said that Newport city government would get about $6 million in new revenue over six years if the table games are approved. He also said that ushering in table games would be a good strategy for the state, as Rhode Island readies for possible competition with Massachusetts, where voters will face a statewide referendum on the future of casinos in the Bay State at the November 4, general election.
Will Farrell, a former Providence City Hall aide to Mayor Angel Taveras, has been hired to run the referendum campaign, said Paolino. The deputy campaign manager will be Jacqueline Paolino, Paolino’s daughter. (Farrell is the son of Bill Farrell, a veteran and respected Statehouse lobbyist).
Paolino said he hopes to explain to Newport voters some of his priorities for Newport Grand, including bringing more entertainment to the venue and establishing a Canyon Ranch-style health spa on the site. He also hopes to forge partnerships with Newport’s thriving hotel and restaurant industry.