Picozzi announces candidacy for town administrator role

Picozzi announces candidacy for town administrator role

LINCOLN – At-large School Committee member John Picozzi is among the first to formally announce their candidacy in Lincoln’s upcoming special election for the town administrator position.

Picozzi, who will run as an independent, joins Republican John Cullen as the only Lincoln residents to publicly declare their intent to run so far, though Phil Gould has received permission from the Rhode Island Ethics Commission to also run a campaign for the town's top government seat.

In a news release, Picozzi said his primary goal is protecting Lincoln’s status as one of the state’s most desirable towns to live and work.

"All the wonderful qualities that make Lincoln the cherished home of families: our open spaces, our wonderful school system and our low tax rate, will be protected,” Picozzi said. "While we develop new opportunities for businesses to relocate here, we will also explore programs that fully support current businesses, and help them grow."

Picozzi said he’s dedicated to maintaining the town’s affordable tax structure while exploring new revenue streams, and that his work as chairman of the School Committee’s capital subcommittee is a testament to his commitment to “meeting the needs of the future while remaining fiscally accountable.”

Questions over whether Picozzi intended to run began to come up soon after Town Administrator Joseph Almond left Town Hall for a job in the governor’s office.

Picozzi was vague about his intentions for a story last week, saying he was keeping his options open. Asked about his decision to run on Monday, Picozzi said he’s been thinking about it for a few years, and that Almond’s sudden departure “kind of left a void.”

“I was a little surprised, and after he left I think it showed some instability, some openings, and we need some solid leadership,” he said. “I also want to address the instability and infighting going on, and work toward effective collaboration.”

“If everyone could put personal feelings aside and egos aside and look ahead at what’s important, we’d be better off," he added. "Everyone has different experiences they bring to the table."

Picozzi was asked about his involvement in several recent rifts between himself and others, including former School Committee member Bill McManus, who resigned from the committee alleging bullying by Picozzi.

“We can talk about McManus until my grave. I came out with my opinion and provided the facts. I don’t want to go after anyone,” he said. “I think that matter is over.”

Picozzi had also been directing comments on Breeze stories toward Gould, a Lincoln Police Department captain who has not formally declared his intention to run for the administrator position.

Picozzi said he spoke to Gould recently, and that he has nothing personal against him. He has nothing against the Memorial Day Parade that Gould helps organize, he said, but “believes in a bigger spectrum of resources" to run it.

Reached for comment, Gould said he believes any public official, elected or otherwise, “should hold themselves to a higher ethical standard,” and that any candidate for administrator “should focus on their plan to lead Lincoln for the next 16 months rather than make unsubstantiated claims or waging character attacks on other leaders in the town.”

“When I announce, I assure you that my platform will be focused on proven leadership and experience, and bringing accountability, accessibility and a sense of community,” he said .

Picozzi said his comments about infighting were more geared toward the Budget Board, and that overall he wants everyone to work together to better the town.

“I have a passion for helping people,” he said, adding that he’s looking forward to running. “I’m up for the job, and I have the experience to back it up.”

Picozzi, who is employed as a programs counselor at the Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls, said as a member of the School Committee he was involved with the reorganization of Lincoln Middle School, the expansion of special education programs, and "took the lead in vastly improving Lincoln's athletic programs by prioritizing fields and grounds enhancements, a total revision of the Athletics Hall of Fame criteria for prospective inductees, and the hiring of a full-time athletic director."

He is pledging to fully support a student athletic center that meets the needs of everyone.

Picozzi is a graduate of the Lincoln schools who grew up in Lime Rock and currently lives in Albion with his son, Andrew. He says he has a deep appreciation for Lincoln’s history and is ready to lead the town into the future. He's planning a kickoff fundraiser at Lincoln Country Club on June 7.

The period for candidates to formally declare their candidacy is June 24-25, with signatures due on June 28.

The deadline to withdraw is July 7 for the Aug. 3 primary, preceding the election on Sept. 7.

Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Picozzi works as a correctional officer. Picozzi has been promoted to a programs counselor.