PAWTUCKET — As Mayor Grebien is dealing with a pension funding crisis, contract negotiations, potholes, the budget and the numerous other pressing issues involved in operating a city, another well-known politician is watching, waiting, and all but confirming his desire to take on the top job.
As first reported by WPRI’s Ted Nesi, former City Council President Henry Kinch Jr. said earlier this week he’s “strongly considering” a run for mayor of Pawtucket in the 2014 election. When contacted by the Times, Kinch backed off a bit — but only a smidgeon — saying that as of right now, he hasn’t decided anything definitively. In fact, he said it was “closer to 60/40 that it isn’t going to happen” but added that he also “hasn’t ruled it out.”
“I’m very far away from even having that discussion with my wife and kids,” Kinch stated. “But I’ve been getting a lot of calls about it, and I’m flattered,” he said, of the news getting out on Nesi’s blog. “It’s definitely on my mind. And would I consider it? Absolutely.”
Kinch, a Pawtucket native long involved in city politics, ran in the 2010 Democratic primary to replace retiring Mayor James Doyle. In a hard-fought campaign, he lost to Grebien by a margin of 64 percent to 37 percent. Grebien, also a longtime City Council member, was unopposed in his re-election bid last year and is almost four months in to his second term.
Kinch concedes that the city’s financial problems have been daunting, and particularly the latest debacle over the under funding of the police and fire pension plan. He said, “I think the mayor is working hard and deserves a little more time to see if he can do the things he promised.”
However, Kinch adds that he “has been paying attention” and there are things that he would be doing differently if he was in the mayor’s seat. For example, he said he thinks Grebien and his team should have acted sooner to have a meeting with the public safety retirees about the pension fund and to come up with a corrective plan eralier. He noted that the Governor had set aside money for distressed communities like Pawtucket last July and that Ernest Almonte had been recruited to head up a pension study committee that suggested a funding plan some seven months ago. “What’s been going on for the last seven months? I don’t know that that’s efficient government,” stated Kinch.
Despite his disappointing loss to Grebien in 2010, Kinch said, “My passion for the city has not decreased. And there’s no surprise that I have a difference of opinion with this administration and some of its decisions. I have a right to speak up when I think I have something to say,” he said. He added that he has begun to use FaceBook and Twitter to share some of his opinions.
He added, “It would be disingenuous to say I don’t think about it or think I can do better on some of these issues, as any citizen would,” said Kinch. “I look at the city and I don’t see a lot of progress. You can say what you want about me…maybe I’m a little bit of an abrasive guy, but I get things done,” he stated.
Kinch, who lives on Wilton Avenue in District 3 and works as clerk of the Providence County Superior Court, served two terms on the city council and was council president from 2008 to 2010. His father, Henry Kinch, Sr., was mayor of Pawtucket 1981 to 1987.
Kinch noted it is still early in the game for candidates to declare their intentions, and said he knows he is “not the only one thinking about it.” He joked that while he had supplied a long-winded explanation about not arriving at a decison yet, he added that he is “definitely considering” a 2014 mayoral bid.
For his part, the city’s incumbent mayor, Donald Grebien, recently issued an e-mail confirming that he will definitively be seeking a third term. In a statement to the news media, he said, “I will be running for re-election as mayor of Pawtucket in 2014. The city’s problems are bigger and more extensive than anyone could have anticipated and I am committed to staying and getting the job done.”
Grebien added, “We have already made significant financial progress but much remains to be done. As a parent of two young children, I am committed to a better future for them and for our city.”