Republican candidates square off in Warwick mayoral debate

Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian debates with primary challenger Stacia Petri at a debate on Aug. 22, 2014.

The Republican candidates in the Warwick mayoral race squared off in a debate at Pilgrim Senior Center on Friday.

Scott Avedisian has been the mayor of Warwick for 14 years.

He normally cruises to re-election, but this year he has a primary challenge from a newcomer, Stacia Petri.

The Republican candidates squared off in a debate Friday at the Pilgrim Senior Center. NBC 10's Bill Rappleye was a panelist.

"The hallmarks of my administration will be openness and transparency," Petri said.

Petri said she was motivated to run by watching regular critics of the mayor who go to most city council meetings. And she complained that property taxes have gone up every year under Avedisian.

However the mayor said he's kept costs under control. He compared the tax rate of an average priced house and an average priced car and said the city fares well.

"The tax in Warwick is less than East Providence, Providence and Cranston. So we're better than those three communities," Avedisian said.

And while Petri complains about tax hikes, she said the city needs to spend more on schools and roads.

The dynamics of a Republican primary in Warwick provide an opportunity for a newcomer with motivated supporters. The 2010 primary drew less than 2,700 voters.