Warwick Republican Mayor Scott Avedisian, the longest-serving mayor in the city's history, will leave his post to become director of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, according to a source close to Gov. Gina Raimondo.
The longtime Republican mayor of Warwick, Avedisian has been chairman of the RIPTA board and has expertise in public transit matters. The RIPTA board is scheduled to vote on the appointment Wednesday.
Reached by telephone, Avedisian said he doesn't feel comfortable speaking publicly about the post until the board votes, which could come as soon as tomorrow.
"I don't want to jinx it," said Avedisian.
Avedisian has long been influential in moderate Republican circles. He was first elected in a five-way contest in 2000, taking over from Lincoln Chafee, who left the mayoralty after he was appointed to succeed his father, John H. Chafee in the U.S. Senate.
Avedisian and Chafee have long been allies. Beginning in his high school days, Avedisian was a page to Sen. John Chafee, a legislative aide in the R.I. Senate and deputy campaign manager for Gov. Lincoln Almond. Avedisian worked in the Almond administration and was appointed to chair the RIPTA board by Chafee. He served five years on the RIPTA board.
Avedisian has long been rumored to leaving the city he has governed since 2000. He was recruited for other state jobs, including the directorship of the state Bridge and Turnpike Authority last year, but turned it down. The RIPTA board is scheduled to meet tomorrow.
A graduated of Providence College, Avedisian also holds a masters degree in public administration from Roger Williams University. As a popular Warwick mayor, Avedisian has focused on economic development and leveraging the improvements to Green State Airport to attract business to the community. He also was a strong advocate for environmental protection and human services reform. Before winning election as mayor, Avedisian served five terms on the Warwick City Council. The Warwick mayor jobs pays about $100,000 and the RIPTA directorship about $140,000.
Speculation will obviously now turn to the campaign to succeed Avedisian. Former Gov. Lincoln Chafee tole my colleague Ian Donnis via a spokeswoman (Debbie Rich) that he won't run for his old job as Warwick mayor. RI House Majority Leader Joe Shekarchi, D-Warwick has expressed interest in being his home city's mayor in the past but he was not immediately available for comment this afternoon.