JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — For the first time in nearly 16 years, Johnston officially has a new mayor.
Former Mayor Joseph Polisena passed the torch down to his son, Joseph Polisena Jr., Monday night.
Both men said it was a moment the two of them will cherish forever.
“It’s not a testament to just a last name,” Polisena Jr. said. “It’s a testament to a message about stable taxes, good public education, efficient public safety and efficient town services. It’s a message that resonates with everybody.”
Polisena Jr. said Johnston should be eternally grateful for his father, who he believes left Johnston a better place than when he was first elected.
“I may be young, but I’m old enough to remember when Johnston was the punchline of every political joke,” Polisena Jr. said. “But here we are 16 years later, completely transformed.”
“It took a lot of hard work … many nights away from his family, but he did it and he did it successfully, and not for himself, but for us.” he continued. “For that, we are forever grateful.”
Polisena Jr. called upon the “exhausted majority” to stand firm against the “loud minority,” which he described as those looking “to spread chaos, lies and distress between the general public and those who represent them.”
“We have reached an inflection point in our society,” Polisena Jr. explained. “Politics has now bled into the workplace, the classroom, sporting events and just about every facet of our life.”
“We seem to pay attention to the loudest, and not the wisest, among us,” he continued. “It’s dangerous to mistake speaking without thought for speaking the truth.”
It’s the exhausted majority that “craves normalcy,” according to Polisena Jr. said.
“What unites us is a collected belief that, when we use our commonalities to define us and not our differences, there is no obstacle too big, no task too difficult and no dream out of reach,” Polisena Jr. said. “We seek to ease the pain of others rather than weaponize it. We search for compromise instead of conflict … we are forever bound by our pursuit of freedom, opportunity and prosperity.”
“It is these principles that will propel us into a brighter future,” he continued. “A future where each tomorrow looks better than today. It is for this future I will work to achieve. I will do it with respect, empathy and understanding rather than prey on your grievance and anger.”
Polisena Jr. said his “sole effort” will be to improve everyone’s quality of life in Johnston.
Johnston’s new police and fire chiefs, as well as members of the town council and school committees, were also sworn in during the ceremony.