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Buddy Cianci’s Cousin Running for Providence City Council

Monday, May 21, 2018


Steven Cianci,  a self-proclaimed small business owner and cousin of the former Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, will be officially announcing his candidacy for Providence City Council, Ward 5 on Tuesday.  He will challenge Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan who was elected to represent Ward 5 in 2014 and began her term in January 2015. The ward covers the Elmhurst, Mount Pleasant, and Manton neighborhoods. 

According to Providence political sources, Cianci already has upwards of 50 signs posted in the ward.

Cianci says he has lived in the 5th Ward for over 23 years. He has been married for 39 years, father of two daughters, and grandfather of two children.

“In my candidacy, I will be accessible, transparent, and vocal for my entire ward.  We need to focus on public safety, education, our elderly, our entire community, and developing ways to help reduce exuberant taxes.  I will work to insure we eliminate wasteful spending, duplication of services, and ways that we can partner with local colleges to give back to our community,” said Cianci

Cianci running for Ward 5

He also said, “I have worked with neighbors and people in the 5th Ward to enforce the ordinance against illegal dirt bikes and ATV use on city streets.  During snow storms, I help plow my neighborhood and make sure to answer my phone in case an elderly person needs help with snow removal.  I attend monthly meeting to hear the concerns of residents in my ward.  At times, I was able to resolve some of their apprehensions simply by directing a call to the correct department.  These are just some examples of my contributions to the 5th Ward.”

While announcing he is the late Mayors cousin he is also trying to keep his distance.

“Lastly, I would like to clarify that I am Steven A. Cianci.  I’m not Buddy Cianci.  Buddy, God rest his soul, was my cousin.  I have never been an elected official.  I am my own person who only wants to help improve the ward in which I live.  The focus is all about the residents of my ward and not about past administrations.  It is my hope to give back to my community as I approach retirement.  I would be honored to be your councilman and, most importantly, your voice in Ward 5,” said Cianci.

The formal announcement event will be held on Tuesday, May 22nd, at 5:30 P.M. at Federal Hill Pizza, 1039 Chalkstone Ave., Providence. 


Related Slideshow: Buddy Cianci: Timeline of Major Events

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Born in Cranston

Cianci was born in Cranston on April 30, 1941.

He grew up in the Laurel Hill neighborhood near the Cranston/Providence border.  He had one sibling, his older sister, Carol.

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Family Background

Cianci's father Vincent was a doctor, and his grandfather Pietro was a carpenter.

Pietro Cianci and his wife Carmella immigrated to the United States from Italy, and had 13 children together.

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High School: Moses Brown

Bachelor's Degree: Fairfield University

Master's Degree: Villanova University

Law Degree: Marquette University

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Military Service

Cianci enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1966.

He served on active duty in the Military Police Corps from 1967-1969.  He then served as a Civil Affairs Officer in the Army Reserves until 1972.

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State Prosecutor

Cianci was admitted to the Rhode Island bar in 1967 and was a Special Assistant Attorney General from 1969-1973.

In 1973, Cianci became the prosecutor of the Attorney General Department's Anti-Corruption strike force. He held that position until he decided to run for public office the following year.

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Elected Mayor in 1974

Cianci ran for mayor of Providence  in 1974, and his anti-corruption campaign led him to defeat incumbent Democrat Joseph Doorley.

Cianci was the first Republican mayor of Providence since the Great Depression and made history as the first Italian mayor in the city's history.

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1980 Run for Governor

Cianci ran for Governor of Rhode Island in 1980, losing to incumbent Democrat J. Joseph Garrahy.

Cianci then decided to distance himself from the Republican Party, winning re-election as mayor in 1982 as an Independent candidate.

According to an article in politico, a dispute with then-Senator John Chafee led Cianci to leave the party.  "And just to show how angry I was, I resigned from the Republican Party."

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City Nearly Bankrupt

Shortly after his unsuccessful gubernatorial bid, Cianci was faced with demands for his resignation due to the hard financial times Providence was experiencing.

The city was nearly bankrupt in 1981. Cinanci raised taxes, focing budget cuts and layoffs throughout the city and igniting a battle between the mayor and labor unions across Providence.

Cianci earned a reputation as a "strike-breaker" for his ability to defeat unions in labor negotiations. 

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Buddy v. Trash Collectors

Cianci engaged in a heated labor fight with the city's trash collectors in 1981, downsizing the number of workers on each truck from 4 to 3.

Cianci famously quipped "You can put two men in a spaceship and send them to the moon. You don’t need four on a garbage truck."

When the city's sanitation workers protested the cuts, Cianci hired a private company to come in and collect the trash.  The mayor placed armed guards on the truck with the private company to ensure their safety.

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Divorce and Assault

Cianci and his wife Sheila divorced in 1983, 18 moths after agreeing to a separation.

5 days after the divorce papers were signed, Cianci assaulted contractor Raymond DeLeo with a lit cigarette and a fireplace log.  Cianci suspected that DeLeo had been having an affair with his former wife.

DeLeo told police Cianci appeared to be drunk when he invited him to his home and attacked him in front of city officials and employees, who did little to discourage Cianci's behavior.

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Cianci was forced to resign as mayor in 1984 after being indicted on assault charges.

According to "The Prince of Providence" DeLeo had feared for his life and had kept quiet about the incident, but news leaked out in the weeks after the attack and it didn't take long for the prosecution to build a case.

Cianci pleaded no contest to assault charges stemming from the DeLeo incident.

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Cianci was sentenced to a 5-year suspended sentence for his role in the DeLeo incident.

The former mayor of Providence was officially a convicted felon.  His fall from grace did not last long, however, as Cianci would remain in the public eye shortly after receiving his sentence.

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Special Election Attempt

A special election was held to fill the vacant mayor's office in 1984.

Cianci attempted to enter the special election, but the Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled that he could not run and attempt to succeed himself.

The RI General Assembly would pass a "Buddy Amendment" in 1986 that barred convicted felons from running for public office for 3 years after their sentence was up. 

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After resigning the mayor's office and being barred from running for public office, Cianci became a talk radio host on Providence's 920 AM station WHJJ.

The move kept Cianci relevant in the area while he remained out of public service, and it wasn't long before Cianci was back in politics.

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1990 Comeback

Cianci mounted a political comeback in 1990 and ran for mayor again.

Cianci used the campagn slogan "He never stopped caring about Providence" and successfully regained the mayoral office.

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Renaissance City

The city began its "Renaissance" phase in Cianci's second stint as mayor.

The city became cleaner and attracted more tourism, and several key expansion projects were overseen by Cianci, including the acquisition of the Providence Bruins, the building of the Providence Place Mall, and the construction of a new train station downtown.

The Renaissance era was the height of Cianci's tenure as mayor.  A glowing review from the Providence Phoenix in 1998 titled "Renaissance Man" opined "Buddy Cianci has done more than move rivers."

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Last Election

Cianci ran unopposed in 1998 for what would be his final election victory.

The FBI began investigating city hall in 1999 and uncovered the second major political scandal of Cianci's career.

Despite being a polarizing figure in local politics, Cianci has never lost a mayoral election.

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April 2001 Indictment

In April 2001, Cianci was indicted on federal charges of racketeering, conspiracy, extortion, witness tampering, and mail fraud.

Numerous other city officials were indicted in "Operation Plunder Dome."  The prosecution's smoking gun was video footage of a bribe being accepted by Frank Corrente, Cianci's Director of Administration. 

The Brown Daily Herald summed up the FBI investigation into city hall. "Patronage, bribes and city employees being required to buy tickets to Cianci fundraisers were all investigated, leading to the indictment of 24 city officials and the jailing of 19, including several top Cianci aides."

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Convicted Again

Cianci was convicted in 2002 and sentenced to 5 years in federal prison.

Cianci Aide Frank Corrente, Tax Board Chairman Joseph Pannone, Tax Board Vice Chairman David C. Ead, Deputy tax assessor Rosemary Glancy were among the nine individuals convicted in the scandal. 

The mayor was forced to resign his office by law following the conviction. Cianci made a plea for an early release from prison in 2005, but that request was denied.

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Return to Radio

Cianci returned to the radio airwaves between his sentencing and the start of his prison term, hosting a midday talk show on Providence 630 AM WPRO.

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The Prince of Providence

Providence Journal political reporter Mike Stanton published a biography of Cianci's political career in 2004.

"The Prince of Providence" was critically acclaimed and shined a light on the political scene in Providence, as well as Cianci and his administrations' tenures in office.

Cianci penned his own book, "Politics and Pasta," and attemped to correct some of accounts from "The Prince of Providence" that he felt were inaccurate.

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Ditching the Squirrel

Cianci was released in 2007, and had a noticeable change in appearance.

Cianci stopped wearing his toupee that had been dubbed "the squirrel."  While Cianci lost the toupee, he didn't lose his sense of humor, calling his prison term an enjoyable stay at a "federally gated community."

“It’s kind of typical of him," former WPRI reporter Jim Taricani (who played a key role in the trial to convict Corrente and Cianci in 2002) told GoLocalProv.  "He’s got this uncanny ability to, no matter what the adversity is, he bounces back from it.”. 

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Another Radio Return

Cianci returned to WPRO in 2007 and has hosted an afternoon talk show on the station through the present day.

Cianci also hosts a weekend television show on ABC.  Even without holding public office, Cianci's thoughts on Providence and Rhode Island are seen and heard by thousands of people across the state.

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Hard Times/Cancer

Cianci's daughter Nicole was found dead in 2012 of an apparent drug overdose. She was Cianci's only child.

Cianci himself was diagnosed with cancer early in 2014.

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Running Again

On June 25th, Cianci filed the paperwork to run for Mayor in the 2014 election.  

Cianci was cleared by his doctors to run and he declared himself as an Independent candidate.

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Cianci Engaged to Haywood

On January 4th, Buddy Cianci got engaged to Tara Marie Haywood. 

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Cianci Passes Away

On January 28, 2016, Cianci died at age 74. The death was tied to complications relating to Cianci's battle with Cancer.

His former Chief of Staff Artin Coloian tells GoLocal, "He will be sadly missed.  My heart breaks for his family.  They've gone through quite a bit," said Coloian. "His accomplishments will live on."


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