Perception of Cianci changes with geography

A woman wears a Buddy Cianci pin from the 1980s.

Providence and the rest of Rhode Island were still buzzing Thursday about Vincent "Buddy" Cianci Jr.'s decision to run for mayor, a job he held for 21 years.

Love him or hate him, it's hard to find people who don't know who he is.

At the Gregg's restaurant on North Main Street, Cianci has a lot of fans.

Jeannette Hall of Providence said he's excited to see him in the race, and she thinks he can win.

"I love him. My mother loves him. Out on her porch she had a big, big sign," Hall said. "He was a good mayor. He did a lot for the city."

Letitia Manieri echoed the sentiment.

"I think it's great, yeah. It's good. It's good for Providence," said Manieri of Providence. "He has a chance. I think he will win."

But it's a different story at the Gregg's restaurant in North Kingstown. Looking at the capital city from a distance puts a different filter on the view of the charming rascal former mayor.

"I think he's been a very popular man, and a lot of people feel he did a lot of good for Providence. However, I think having a felon as mayor would be a very sad thing for our state," said Bea Seavey of North Kingstown.

Cianci, 73, had to resign from office when he was convicted in 2002 of racketeering conspiracy in Operation Plunder Dome. He served 4-and-a-half years in federal prison.

Cianci is just one candidate in a crowded race for Providence mayor, and he's one of three independents. The others are Lorne Adrain and Jeffrey Lemire.

Six Democrats are seeking their party's nomination: Reinaldo Catone, Jorge Elorza, Dominique Gregoire, Brett Smiley, Michael Solomon and Christopher Young.

Daniel Harrop is the lone Republican in the race.