Two Johnston men declare run for D-25 state Senate seat

Warwick Beacon ·

A pair of Johnston Democrats have announced their candidacy to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Frank Lombardo III, the Democrat who represented District 25 since 2010.

So far, only a Democratic Primary race has emerged in the town’s main Senatorial district, waged by a pair of Johnston men, Richard J. DelFino III and Andrew Dimitri.

For now, the Johnston state Senate seat will remain empty until after the November General Election. Lombardo died Feb. 21, following a battle with cancer.

Both DelFino and Dimitri are lifelong Johnston residents, and both touted their hometown credentials in their candidacy announcements. They’ll compete for the Democratic nomination and could face a Republican challenge in the General Election (however, the local heads of the Republican party say they’ve yet to find suitable candidates; at press-time, so far, no Republican challengers have entered the District 25 race).

The Background

“As you may be aware, I continue to be a lifelong resident of Johnston (Simmonsville) in the general area where five generations of DelFino’s have lived, worked, and contributed to our Johnston community,” DelFino wrote to announce his candidacy.

The Providence College graduate went to work for his High School alma mater Bishop Hendricken High School after earning his degree.

“I then took a position in Governor Lincoln Chafee’s office, as the Legislative Coordinator, and continued in that role in Governor Gina Raimondo‘s office,” DelFino said. “I then served as the Director of Municipal Affairs in Governor Daniel McKee’s administration.”

Last year, DelFino went to work as the Director of Community and Legislative Affairs at the Johnston-based Tri-County Community Action Agency.

He served a term on Johnston Town Council, from January 2015 until January 2019.

Delfino provided a long list of current board appointments: Chair of the Johnston/ Smithfield Juvenile Hearing Board, member of the Roger Williams University Paralegal Advisory Board, a member of the Johnston Democratic Committee, the Executive Board of Johnston Little League, and Vice-President of the Rhode Island Soccer Officials Association.

Dimitri works as an attorney. He attended St. Rocco School in Johnston, LaSalle Academy, the University of Rhode Island, and Roger Williams University School of Law.

According to his campaign announcement, Dimitri is “an enthusiastic sponsor of Johnston youth sports and supporter of local businesses around town.”

Dimitri traces his roots back to St. Rocco School and Church, and said his “journey to becoming an attorney and community volunteer was deeply rooted in him by his family.”

Dimitri listed his father, fellow attorney William (Bill) Dimitri, as a major influence. The father and son work alongside wife and mother, Lisa Dimitri. According to Dimitri’s campaign announcement, “Bill and Lisa raised Andrew and his sister Angelica to work hard, treat everyone with kindness and respect, and never shy away from a challenge.”

“My upbringing instilled in me a profound sense of duty towards my neighbors and my community,” Dimitri said. “Now, as a practicing attorney, I have worked to help people navigate the judicial process and I am eager to leverage my knowledge and skills for the betterment of our beloved town and state.”

Good Sports

DelFino’s father also has a deep background in Johnston and local politics. Richard J. DelFino Jr. served as the former head of the Johnston Democratic Town Committee and served several terms on the Johnston School Committee. The elder DelFino now works as the Executive Director of the Johnston Senior Center.

“My family’s community and public service are long-standing in the town of Johnston, and my experience in government affairs gives me the advantage of promoting an effective legislative agenda on behalf of the people of Johnston,” DelFino wrote.

DelFino, a volunteer youth coach for the Town of Johnston Recreation Department, coaches his three sons in several sports.

His primary opponent, Dimitri, has also been active in the town’s youth sports leagues.

“Johnston is not just where I call home, it’s who I am and where I dream about starting a family of my own,” Dimitri said in candidacy announcement. “Our town has a spirit of unity and resilience that I've cherished since childhood. From my earliest memories playing Johnston tee-ball, baseball and football, to attending school, to earning the rank of Eagle Scout in Troop 22, every formative step of my upbringing was taken in this town. The long-valued principles of hard work, teamwork, and overcoming obstacles together are not just taught but lived out every day here in Johnston. These are qualities I strive to embody daily.”

Legislative Pitch

Sen. Lombardo held several committee seats and a chairmanship. He served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Housing & Municipal Government, and as a member of the Commerce, Labor and Rules, Government Ethics & Oversight Senate Committees.

DelFino provided a glimpse of his potential future “legislative agenda,” which includes bills “to create a calendar in the Rhode Island District Court to hear all matters of non-compliance within 30 days of disposition in the Municipal Zoning, and Housing Courts, resulting in expedited corrections on behalf of neighbors and residents.”

DelFino said he also hopes to introduce legislation establishing “a ratio of mental health workers in schools, to the total population, that will meet and address student’s mental health needs.”

DelFino’s a proponent of guaranteed “cost of living increases for state and municipal retirees that will be equal to negotiated contracts of current state and municipal employees.” He proposed creation of “a task force of the Rhode Island State Police and municipal police departments to study, recommend, and enforce speeding in our neighborhoods.”

DelFino proposes lobbying the town’s “federal delegation for funding the creation of highway barriers, similar to those seen in neighboring states, that will line our interstates that pass through residential neighborhoods.” He supports a “police task force” to investigate and prosecute “all matters of property destruction by graffiti, on state, municipal and private property with mandatory restitution and community service in all matters.”

He also plans to “introduce and support legislation that would prohibit solicitation on any municipal road, state road, or state highway that were identified by law enforcement as putting the public in harms way.”

“This would include any on and off ramp, median, and heavy volume traffic intersections around the state,” according to DelFino. He said each city or town’s “Chief Law Enforcement Officer” should be the decision-maker on areas of each municipality where solicitors (often referred to as pan-handlers) would be prohibited.

He ended his legislative pitch by promising to “to always support our teachers and first responders.”


Dimitri said his “vision for Johnston and the state is grounded in the practical challenges facing everyday Rhode Islanders.”

“Over the last several weeks, I’ve spoken with dozens of friends and family members about the possibility of running for the Senate, and each conversation I had reinforces my priorities for our community: strong and safe schools, support for all our first-responders, and economic development policies that put small businesses first,” according to Dimitri. “Family-owned businesses are the backbone of Johnston and every community, and I am steadfast in my commitment to fostering an environment where they can flourish.”

He touted his love of the “outdoors as a sportsman, golfing, the beach, and much more.”

“Rhode Island is a beautiful state, from our coastline to the Connecticut border, so I want to support policies that conserve our natural resources and protect our enjoyment of the great outdoors,” Dimitri said. “Johnston is more than just a place; it's a way of life. I am deeply invested in our past, present, and future.”

Both candidates are reaching out to voters, looking for support and engagement.

Dimitri extended an invitation to his possible future constituents.

“I am here to listen, learn, and lead,” he said. “Whether you're a lifelong friend or a new acquaintance, I welcome you to reach out anytime with questions, concerns, ideas, or just to say hello and get to know me. Together, let's shape a brighter future for Johnston and Rhode Island.”

Dimitri announced his candidacy on Friday, May 3.

DelFino announced his run late Tuesday night, May 7, challenging his opponent to a test of bravery: “Today more than ever, we need a candidate and public official who possesses the commitment and the courage to lead.”

This story was originally posted by Warwick Beacon. Click here to view the original story in its entirety.