1999-07-17 / Columnists

On The Beach...With Beverly Baxter


When the news of Joann Ariola's resignation as Councilman Stabile's Chief of Staff began to circulate through out the district, it came as a surprise to many, as well as a definite inevitability to some. Either way, few could resist engaging in gossip and speculation. After-all, Joann Ariola has been Adam's, I mean, Al's "rib" during most of his administration. He has known her since she was a little girl, has been a personal friend of her family, and godfather to one of her children. In return, she has loyally stuck by him like a piece of gum to a shoe! So-- what happened? Was Joann's resignation a benign and friendly departure, or was the dust over Russo's the explosion of their long relationship?

When I first decided to call upon her for this interview, I offered to meet at some local restaurant. We'd be just a couple of "ladies who lunch" or chicks that chat and I'd get the "real" story. Her response? "Na.. just come over to the house." When I arrived it was immediately apparent to me that the source of her devotion to community service comes from her strong sense of family values. There are two entrances to the home. One that was built by the builder to be the "formal" entrance and one that was built by the Ariola's to be used all the time and by everybody!! There are friends and family sitting around the kitchen table and children playing and jumping in and out of the pool. Welcome to Ariola-ville!

With six years of community service as Stabile's Chief of Staff and a state assembly race, though unsuccessful, under her belt, Joann Ariola is refreshed and ready to "take on"! She states that "Everything, if put into proper perspective, is a positive learning experience. There are no negatives. With regard to the assembly race or as with anything, even if you lose, you win because the experience you gain you take with you. It can't be taken away."

BB: Let's discuss your departure from your position as Chief of Staff to Councilman Stabile. There have been many rumors that you left your position under somewhat strained circumstances.

JA: The decision to leave my position was an intellectual one and one that was made so that I could concentrate on my own independent goals. There comes a time when one reaches a certain point where they've learned all they can learn. It's like I went to school, I got my education, and now its time to move on and implement all I've learned. There comes a time when the bird can fly. However, because I no longer work for the Councilman, it does in no way

indicate that I will not continue working with him, as I have over the past six years, for the good of the community.

BB: What are your immediate plans?

JA: I have been hired by the Mayor's office and will be working in inter-governmental relations at the Department of Buildings. It's a position that will afford me a higher latitude of government experience and visibility in the 32nd Council District. The position is relevant to my goals as a community advocate. It will enable me to become even more effective in improving the community that I have served and will continue to serve.

BB: There is much speculation that your future political plans include a run for the Council seat that Councilman Stabile will vacate in 2001.

JA: I suppose this is a great opportunity to end any speculation about that question. Yes, I intend to definitely run for the seat. It is the most natural progression for me I have worked toward this goal for the past six years; and I am both comfortable and confident about the race.

BB: There will most likely be a myriad of candidates. What do you feel best qualifies you to replace Al Stabile as the next City Council Member of the 32nd district?

JA: In my tenure as the Councilman's Chief of Staff, I acquired a great deal of experience. I have established invaluable contacts throughout the city, and most importantly, I have developed a complete perception of the process of city government. I have a total understanding of the mechanisms that are required to bring the most in the way of services to my district. Undoubtedly, there is no singly more important quality that an elected official can bring to their constituency than the delivery of services. I will not need to take the time to learn the process because I have already experienced it for the past six years. This distinguishes me from other potential candidates.

BB: Although the race is nearly two and a half years away, do you feel confident that the Councilman will support your intended run for the Council?

JA: I have no doubt that I will have the Councilman's 100% support. He has made it emphatically clear that I am the candidate of his choice to succeed him. Additionally, I have been assured by Republican leadership throughout the county that I have their unconditional support in the race.

BB: The Councilman has announced his intention to pursue the office of the Borough Presidency. What are your feelings about that race and do you intend to support the Councilman in that race?

JA: I have seen Al Stabile continuously deliver for his district throughout his term as Councilman. I have every confidence that this trend will continue to the borough level. I would certainly support him, especially in my capacity as Republican Leader, in his bid for the Borough Presidency and will continue to support him exactly as he has supported me in the past.

Her boys, Robert, Christian, and Matthew, all devout republicans, come running in from the pool. It is the dinner hour and this politically savvy and poised single mother of three begins to serve dinner. Although I am warmly invited to stay, I have another appointment, and leave. Joann Ariola is a woman with much on her plate. But don't worry. She can handle it all--and with intelligence and grace...as she has shown us during these past six years.


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