Senator Thomas Paolino, a lifelong resident of Lincoln, is only 25 and will be the youngest member serving in the Rhode Island General Assembly, representing Senate District 17. One of only five Republican Senators, Paolino defeated Democrat Jina Petrarca-Karampetsos by 286 votes with 51% of the total tally. After no Republicans declared their candidacy to fill retiring Independent Senator Edward O’Neill, the Republican state party chair nominated Paolino to be the party’s candidate in the general election. Paolino is a fitness instructor at the MacColl YMCA, as well as a marketing director and liaison for his parent’s medical business. He campaigned as a family man, speaking on the campaign trail about moving in with his grandparents to take care of them in their last years, pausing his college studies.
Paolino has declared ending corruption and scandals in the General Assembly one of his primary goals. He believes that he can act as a watchdog in the Senate, and will be able to help eliminate wasteful spending. Paolino also wants to impose more fiscal discipline in the state and eliminate legislative grants which divert funds from local communities. He has also shown an interest in repealing what he sees as burdensome regulations on small businesses. The newly elected senator has also called for exempting Social Security benefits from state taxes and eliminating car taxes, arguing that both of these drive away business from the state.
Paolino is an avid proponent of gun rights, stating that he is a “strong supporter in owning guns and the right to use them.” However, he has shown a passion for environmental protection, claiming that government action is required to prevent corporations from profiting from the environment.