EAST PROVIDENCE — In a bombshell announcement Monday afternoon, Aug. 13, Ward 4 incumbent Michael DiGioia stated his intention to drop out of his race to return to the East Providence City Council. DiGioia’s decision leaves his opponent, current Ward 4 School Committee member Chrissy Rossi, to run unopposed in the November General Election.
In a phone conversation Monday as well as in a press release, Mr. DiGioia emphasized the difficulty of his decision, which he said was based purely on a personal family matter of some import.
“I don’t want to get into specifics. There’s going to be a lot of speculation out there, but this is a family matter and I want to protect our privacy,” Mr. DiGioia said by phone, referencing his wife and three young children. “There was a lot of soul-searching involved in this with my wife and family. I know the timing isn’t very good, but this something I have to do.”
Mr. DiGioia touched on similar topics in his press release. It stated, “It is with a heavy heart that I have decided not to seek re-election for the City Council Ward 4. I will be removing my name on the November 6th ballot. This was a very difficult and emotional decision. For personal, and family reasons I must be home with my wife and three kids at this time. I am requesting privacy for my family during this time. It has been an honor serving the people of Riverside. On behalf of my family I want to say thank you for allowing me to serve and represent you on the City Council.
“Representing Ward 4 is a full-time commitment and currently I cannot fulfill that obligation. Running for re-election at this time would be a disservice to Riverside and to my family. I know this decision will disappoint many people who believed in me. I am very concerned now that Ms. Rossi will be running unopposed. But, that is not a reason to run for elected office. I am sorry to anyone who may be hurt by this decision. It is so important in life to follow your heart. And that is what I am doing for my family. I am confident this city will continue to move forward. And I will continue to do what I can to help make East Providence a stronger community. Thank you.”
Mr. DiGioia, by phone, reiterated his displeasure in regards to Mrs. Rossi basically winning the election by default, but again said it was not a reason for him to stay in the race.
If it were an affiliated election, where each party nominates a candidate, the party affected could put up a new candidate. In an unaffiliated election, finding another opponent to vie against Mrs. Rossi in what was expected to be one of if not the most hotly contested city race isn’t a possibility. The deadline for filing in the unaffiliated city races was at the end of June.
“I did make the decision four or five weeks too late, and I do regret it,” Mr. DiGioia continued. “It was a very difficult decision to make. We wrestled with it for a very long time. I should have made the decision back in June, but I wasn’t ready. It’s hard to let go, but I have to follow my heart and do what I think is best for my family.”
Mr. DiGioia, 33, is a lawyer who practices in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts. His office is currently located in Fall River with plans on expanding into Rhode Island. However, he said that intended professional move had nothing to do with his political decision.
“It’s a family matter,” Mr. DiGioia added. “It has nothing to do with business.”
As for his future in politics, Mr. DiGioia said he “doesn’t know what the future holds.”
Away from the political arena, Mr. DiGioia said he understands the ramifications of his choice to remove himself from the Ward 4 Council race.
“I’m very apologetic. I’m so sorry if I hurt anyone or if I disappointed anybody. That’s one of the reasons why it made this decision so difficult,” Mr. DiGioia added. “I know I let a lot of people down and I disappointed a lot of people, but this was a very personal decision and I hope they can respect that.”