Candidate Biographies

Ackerman | KazarianNewberry | Shekarchi | Marcello | Ottiano

Mia Ackerman
(Class of September 2012)

Mia Ackerman, previously a member of the Cumberland Town Council, defeated an entrenched 24-year incumbent who voted against pension reform in 2012. A small businesswoman, she is focused on helping businesses create jobs for Rhode Islanders.

As a member of the Town Council, she helped to pave the way for the expansion of CVS/Caremark in Cumberland industrial park. Now serving as the chairwoman of that subcommittee, she regularly advocates on behalf of easing the burden upon businesses in dealing with zoning regulations and obtaining permits and licenses.

Ackerman successfully fought against her local fire district’s attempt to implement a two-tier tax system which would have significantly raised the fire taxes for all businesses this year. She spoke in opposition at a State House hearing against a bill, proposed by the Representative she is trying to unseat, which would have implemented such an unfair business tax.

At the State House she is an advocate for businesses, which she says must thrive in order to maintain a stable and healthy tax base. Ackerman also supports educational reform efforts and transparency in state government.

The proprietor of Ackerman Title Services for the past 22 years, she is a Real Estate Title Examiner for residential and commercial properties. A graduate of State University of New York at Binghamton, she and her husband Barry are the parents of two children in Cumberland public schools. She was the recipient of the 2010 Women of Achievement Award from the YWCA of Northern Rhode Island, which recognizes women for their charitable efforts and contributions to their community.


Katherine Kazarian
(Class of November 2012)

Katherine Kazarian, a lifelong East Providence resident, won a four-way Primary for State Representative from Rumford (District 63) in 2012. She recently graduated from Columbia University, where she majored in Urban Studies and Economics. While in college, Katherine was a member of Columbia University’s Peace by P.E.A.C.E. volunteer organization, traveling to homeless shelters and public schools in Harlem to teach conflict resolution skills and conduct community workshops.  She has also worked at Rhode Island Public Broadcasting and a private attorney’s office.  Until recently she paid her bills as a hard working waitress.

While growing up in East Providence, Katherine volunteered as an AYSO coach and as a Sunday School assistant teacher. She was also a dedicated athlete and student, serving as the Captain of her high school soccer team and the Vice President of Bay View’s National Honor Society.

Katherine is running for State Representative in Rumford (District 63).

Brian Newberry
(Class of November 2012)

First elected in 2008, Brian C. Newberry, representing House District 48 encompassing North Smithfield and Burrillville, is the Minority Leader of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. He has been a champion of lower taxes, reduced regulation and limited government. Newberry believes that the General Assembly’s number one priority should be to change the business climate in the state as a way to encourage growth in private sector employment. He has consistently maintained that Rhode Island’s myopic focus on all too often fighting over how to divide up the pie has been a major distraction from the much more desirable goal of growing the size of the pie which would benefit everyone.

Newberry is a 1989 graduate of Choate Rosemary Hall, a 1993 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a double major in American History and Urban Studies and a 1996 Magna Cum Laude Graduate of Temple University School of Law. He is a partner in the law firm of Donovan Hatem LLP where his practice concentrates in professional malpractice defense, primarily representing architects, engineers, accountants and lawyers as well as construction law generally and commercial litigation. He is admitted to the bar in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. He and his wife Beth live with their three children in North Smithfield.   

Joe Shekarchi
(Class of November 2012)

A life- long resident of Warwick who has actively worked to improve the business climate in the City, and throughout Rhode Island, for his entire professional life. In his first run for public office, Joe was elected to serve as a State Representative in Warwick's District 23.

Joe’s leadership and consensus building skills were most recently seen at work when he successfully broke the political impasse surrounding the long-delayed runway expansion at T.F. Green Airport. He personally worked to create a comprehensive community benefits plan that was instrumental in ultimately obtaining the unanimous support of the Warwick City Council for the crucial project.

Shekarchi attended Randall Holden Elementary School, as well as Hoxsie Elementary School, Mount St. Charles Academy and Suffolk University in Boston, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in government. He also graduated from Suffolk University Law School in 1990.

Joe currently practices law at his office at 33 College Hill Road. He has been instrumental in expanding Warwick’s tax base and creating jobs -- working to bring two Washington Trust Bank branches to Warwick, two Lowe’s stores, relocate Herb Chambers Cadillac to Warwick and expand Balise Auto and develop their second facility on Jefferson Boulevard. The Balise expansion project alone represents an $8 million private sector investment in the City.

Joe is also very attentive to the needs of Warwick’s senior citizens. “Seniors are both the conscience and lifeblood of our community, and we all need to help provide them with safe, affordable housing.”

Michael Marcello 
(Class of 2010)

Michael Marcello represents Scituate and western Cranston, District 41, in the R.I. House of Representatives. Recognized as a reformer and an advocate for open and ethical government, he recently authorized and won passage of landmark legislation that significantly amended the state’s Access to Public Record Act. He also succeeded in passing legislation which prohibits local elected municipal officials from earning pension credits for their service on local city and town councils. He has consistently been the prime sponsor of a bill that would restore Rhode Island Ethics Committee jurisdiction over members of the General Assembly.

Marcello has distinguished himself as a thoughtful proponent of Rhode Island small businesses and an advocate for leaner, more efficient government. He was an early supporter of equitable pension reform and continues to look for ways to streamline the cost and scope of Rhode Island’s government.

Mike practices law and specializes in civil litigation, municipal law, and insurance coverage issues. A product of the Scituate’s public schools, he is a 1990 graduate of Colby College and earned his law degree from the American University’s Washington College of Law in 1994. He was also a law clerk for Connecticut’s Superior Court system.

Marcello takes a keen interest in American history, and spends some of his free time reading it. A Scituate native, he is the youngest of four children, and currently owns the home in which he and his siblings were raised.

Chris Ottiano 
(Class of 2010)

Every special interest seems to have a lobbyist.
Shouldn’t the taxpayers have one?

Dr. Christopher Ottiano represents Portsmouth and Bristol in Senate District 11. He was the only challenger to defeat an incumbent state senator anywhere in Rhode Island in 2010.  Ottiano believes that real leadership at the State House begins with a balanced budget stripped of gimmicks and shortcuts. He understands that state revenue must come from private sector growth, and he pledges to reduce taxes and create a friendly environment for Rhode Island’s small businesses.

Chris Ottiano believes that when politicians give in to the special interests, taxes are increased to fund excessive benefits, and it’s the working people of Rhode Island who end up paying. But when we take an honest look at our common interest, it’s clear that we all benefit from lowering the barriers to economic growth.

Ottiano has offered real solutions to lower Rhode Island’s high unemployment rate. These include reducing the personal income tax rate to no higher than 5%, eliminating regulatory hurdles that make Rhode Island uncompetitive, and expanding state support of higher education to better educate a qualified work force.

Ottiano’s priorities also include plans for better health insurance, better results for the public education dollar, and better enforcement of immigration laws. He also stresses the need for increased government accountability through term limits, elimination of the straight “party lever” in voting, and strengthening the ethics commission to aggressively pursue conflicts of interest.

A life-long Rhode Islander, Ottiano has always taken an interest in his local community. Currently, Ottiano serves his town in the role of Supervisory Committee Chairman for the Peoples Credit Union, and also acts as a member of the Portsmouth Planning Board.

Since graduating from Tufts Medical School, Ottiano has served Rhode Island as a local physician for many years. He has also distinguished himself as a member of the Medical Executive Committee Newport Hospital and as a member of the American Board of Surgery. He and his wife of ten years, Bernadette, have a seven-year old son, Raymond.