JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The new year is bringing some big changes to Johnston, with Mayor Joseph Polisena passing the torch down to his son.
Mayor-elect Joseph Polisena Jr. will be sworn into office next Monday.
Polisena Jr. tells 12 News that his first two moves as mayor will be to appoint new police and fire chiefs.
Deputy Police Chief Mark Viera, according to Polisena Jr., will take over as the towns police chief. Polisena Jr. has been serving as acting police chief while Chief Joseph Razza has been out on medical leave.
The Johnston Fire Department will also have a new chief come next week. Polisena Jr. said David Iannuccilli will be the town’s next fire chief.
“He’s a tremendous pick,” Polisena Jr. said. “He has 30 years of experience, but most importantly, he has the respect of the rank-and-file firefighters.”
Polisena Jr. said both Viera and Iannuccilli are familiar with their departments which will help them succeed in their new roles.
“It gets a little bit easier to manage a department when you have that familiarity with it,” he explained. “Things work differently in Johnston, just like they work differently in Cranston and Providence.”
Polisena Jr. said his father made sure he was in great spot to take over the reins, crediting his hard work and dedication to the town.
“My father has done a great job with this town,” Polisena Jr. said, adding that his father turned Johnston’s $7 million deficit into a $45 million surplus.
Polisena Jr. said his three main goals when he takes office are taxes, schools and quality of life.
“I want to make Johnston schools one of the best public schools in the state of Rhode Island,” he said. “It’s very important to me and I believe we have the tools to do it.”
When asked whether he would be changing the name on the sign outside Johnston Town Hall, Polisena Jr. chuckled.
“I’m going to add the suffix,” he said. “It’s important to me, it was important during the campaign to differentiate myself and I think it’s important to the people.”