5 men consider run for mayor of Cumberland

5 men consider run for mayor of Cumberland

CUMBERLAND - There's pent-up political ambition aplenty in Cumberland these days.

As Mayor Daniel McKee gets closer to making the announcement for lieutenant governor official, a half-dozen or so candidates - who so far would continue the town's tradition of male leadership - are indicating interest in running for the rare open seat.

The election of 1996 was the last time an incumbent mayor wasn't seeking re-election as Rick Alger tried instead for a seat in the state senate.

And the last town ballot without McKee's name in the top spot was in 1998.

So who's on the list of would-be mayors?

The Breeze found five who said they could be declaring in June of 2014:

* Brian Kelly, finance professional and former school board member

* Bill Murray, retired businessman and Town Council member

* Jeff Mutter, small business owner and School Committee vice chairman and former Town Council president

* Anthony Silva, state Department of Motor Vehicles administrator and former police chief

* Joseph Silva, recording artist and marketing manager.

Kelly, who says he's between jobs currently, served a term on the School Committee in 2008 after trying two years earlier for a spot on the Town Council. As a Pawtucket resident, he had served four years on the School Committee there, including two years as chairman. He left public service, he says, to allow more time for a daughter and mother-in-law who were both ill.

Kelly, 52, of Hayfield Lane, has kept politically active since then as a campaign adviser to state Rep. Karen MacBeth.

He said this week of the mayoral seat, "I'm leaning toward it."

He's not sure if he'd carry a Democratic banner. "I don't know if I want to be part of the Democratic machine," he said. "I'm way past that in my life."

Recalling his Town Council race against Jason Kilpatrick, he said, "I ruffled some feathers in town. But I don't lose sleep over it."

Cumberland Hill's Town Council freshman member, Murray, 74, of Staples Road, is a long-time friend of McKee who, as a retired man, has dived into a series of projects for the town, including the artificial turf purchase at Tucker Field.

"I am thinking about it," he said this week. He won't be ready to announce, however, until a couple of personal issues are resolved by fall, he said.

Scoring an easy win as state Rep. Mia Ackerman's successor in Cumberland Hill last fall, Murray confesses he never expected to seek this post when first elected to the council, but has been approached by several people.

He finds he enjoys the municipal government process and as a retired businessman has the time to get involved.

Murray was the only one who specifically praised McKee's leadership and expressed an interest in continuing many of the McKee policies.

McKee himself said he's not commenting on who he'll support. While a friendship with Murray is apparent, Tony Silva has been McKee's campaign manager in past years and emceed his mayoral inauguration in January.

Mutter, 53, would come to the position with years of experience on both the Town Council, where he was president, and the School Committee, where he was chairman and is now vice chairman.

The owner of Mutter Motors on Broad Street indicated this is a decision he'll make next spring, commenting by phone from his office, "I'm so straight out, it's the last thing on my mind. I haven't ruled it out but God knows what could happen between now and then.

Mutter, a Democrat who has often run unopposed, lives on Kent Street. He served 10 years on the Town Council and has been on the school board since March of 2010, helping to guide it through a period of transition that has seen major leadership changes within the administrative staff as well as the School Department's first uptick in test scores in years.

Democrat Anthony "Tony" Silva, 57, was Cumberland's police chief for 10 years, before moving on in 2006 to head up the Rhode Island Municipal Police Academy for 7 years.

The David Street resident just marked his first anniversary with the much-maligned DMV where he says he's launched a series of initiatives.

It's those efforts, still getting started, that make him pause before grabbing the chance to run for next year's vacant seat.

Still, he said, "I'd be lying if I didn't say I've considered it," he told The Breeze. "I love that town. I was born and raised there and I know every inch of it."

Joseph Silva, 47, who is not related to Tony Silva, grew up in Cumberland and currently lives on Little Pond County Road.

The youngest of the current field of candidates, Joe Silva said he's been thinking about introducing new "quality of life" issues to the town. He helped organize the July 5 Red, White & Blue Music Festival for the town, drawing, he said, on marketing and business experience as well as his music.

Silva said he'd likely run without party affiliation, noting that he subscribes to views from both major parties. "I know it's difficult being independent in this town, but I just think, gosh, take the best ideas from both sides and get beyond personal agendas."

Silva is on the road this summer with his "Blue Acoustic Tour USA," including an Aug. 4 stop at New York City's famed The Bitter End on Bleeker Street.

It was 1998, when McKee, who had been serving on the Town Council, made his first appearance as a mayoral candidate. He came in second to incumbent Frank Gaschen in the Democratic primary that also included R. David Cruise and Julian "Ukey" Pytka.

Two years later, in 2000, McKee prevailed with 62 percent of votes against Gaschen after a series of mini-scandals for Gaschen that included political missteps by his friend and aide Kevin Lewis and Gaschen's selling of used law books and office furniture to the town.

McKee has returned ever since, losing only in 2004 to a former police sergeant, David Iwuc.