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Registrar Appointment Sparks Cronyism Debate

The appointment of the city's Democratic City Committee chairman's son to the position of registrar had a couple City Council members asking questions.

The City Council debates the registrar appointment.
The City Council debates the registrar appointment.
This story was updated at 9:43 a.m.

The City Council last week approved the appointment of Steven J. Sepe, son of Cranston Democratic City Committee Chairman Michael Sepe, to the position of registrar — but not without a debate that touched upon the often family-friendly nature of politics and government.

The younger Sepe, 35, will be paid in the mid $30,000 and replaces outgoing registrar Jackie Caroulo, who hadn't seen a raise in years. 

Councilman Michael Favicchio, who voted against the appointment, said Sepe seems like a "nice young man, who's probably qualified," but asked whether it was appropriate for him to be deciding who is a qualified voter or candidate as registrar when his dad calls the shots for city Democrats.

"I just have a  philosophical issue with the leader of the Democratic party's relative serving in the capacity for the Board of Canvassers as registrar, which has a lot to do with elections," Favicchio said.

In response, Councilman Mario Aceto said he can see where Favicchio was coming from, but noted a current member of the Board of Canvassers, Gary Vierra, is hosting fundraisers for "a potential gubernatorial candidate," hinting at Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung's potential run for the state chief executive job.

Councilman Paul Archetto agreed, saying the council has appointed relatives before, such as the appointment of former Director of Administration Robin Muksian Schutt's father, Dr. Robert Muksian, to the board of canvassers.

"This isn't the first," Archetto said. "It has been done in the past."

In an interview, the elder Sepe said "is the appointment political? Of course. They're all political jobs."

"I make appointments to the Board of Canvassers just like Bruce Saccoccio (Chairman of the Republican City Committee) does," Sepe said. "He's not going to appoint Democrats and I'm not going to appoint Republicans."

Sepe said he didn't pressure his son into the job. In fact, it was Aceto and Councilman Richard Santamaria who urged him to pursue the job.

"I told my son to do what he wanted to do. If he wanted it, go for it and I won't stand in his way because I'm committee chairman," Sepe said.

Although legendary in Cranston for his fiery press releases and bulldog-style campaigning, Sepe said he was the belle of the ball in 1974 when he worked for the state Board of Elections, at least in a nonpartisan sense.

"I had more accolades from Republcians than Democrats because I was fair," Sepe said. "[My son] will do the same thing no matter what."

Sepe's appointment was passed 5-2 with Councilmen Favicchio and Don Botts voting no. 

The council last week also appointed someone with the last name Sepe, Adam C. Sepe, to the Zoning Board of Review as a full member. That person is not the son of Michael Sepe, said City Council President John E. Lanni Jr. in an e-mail message. 

Adam Sepe is the son of the owner of Northeast Tree Company and was originally appointed to the Zoning Board by former Republican Mayor Steve Laffey as an alternate member.
Joe The Plumber August 03, 2013 at 01:42 AM
Everyone is making this more complicated than it really is. Mike Sepe wants his son (a loser like his dad) to follow in his footsteps. Mike told his servants on the council to do it. The cronies did it. End of story. It's so Rhode Island, isn't it?
Cranston4life August 05, 2013 at 07:16 PM
Haha " Joe the plumber" i bet you wouldn't call the son a loser to his face, it's easy to speak when you can hide your name.
Joe The Plumber August 06, 2013 at 12:40 AM
Haha "Cranston4life" little Sepe is a loser because every job he has had was given to him by is father who applied political pressure to get him the jobs. Little Sepe then proceeded to screw up at every job his daddy got him. I can just imagine what "favors" Sepe has done for you.
Cranston4life August 06, 2013 at 11:45 AM
Joey the plumber,I don't know much about them, you seem a little jelous..
Joe The Plumber August 08, 2013 at 12:37 AM
Cranston4life, I am not jelous. In fact I'm not even jealous. I'm just stating the obvious and regrettable truth.

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