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Providence Mayoral Candidates’ Top Priorities

Saturday, April 19, 2014


What are the Providence Mayoral candidates top priorities if elected? 

As the 2014 campaign season is well underway with less than seven months until election day, candidates are pushing out policy platforms, engaging in community forums, and hitting the trail, in an effort to garner support -- and turnout -- come November.

With numerous policy positions put out by the candidates on such issues as education, crime, and economic development, GoLocal asked the candidates what takes top importance to them.

See Candidates' Top Issues BELOW

So what are the candidates top priorities, what differentiates then from the field, and what is tops on their list if elected to office? According to one seasoned political observer, the traditional ground game still trumps all.

"Providence is a relatively small city (both in terms of population and geographic area) so, while it may be difficult to get the media to pay much attention to them (unless they are one of their favorites) most voters will probably not pay an awful lot of attention to broad, sophisticated policy statements--so it doesn't matter much so long as the media pay some attention to them as candidates," said veteran political pollster Victor Profughi. "Far more important, will be how effectively candidates work the field game and identify voters."

Parsing the Field

GoLocal asked the candidates how their vision -- and experience -- sets them apart from their competition. 

"My depth of experience in supporting and creating an entrepreneurial economy will help accelerate our City's economic recovery," said Democrat Lorne Adrain. "My vision is directly influenced by my experience in bringing people together to realize goals in the private, non-profit and public sectors."

Fellow Democrat Jorge Elorza explained what he saw as his unique perspective.

"My vision sets me apart because it's one based on having seen firsthand both how providing an opportunity can be a blessing and how denying an opportunity can be fatal," said Jorge Elorza. "The issues that I'm talking about in this campaign aren't just talking points to me; I have lived them."

Lone Republican candidate Dr. Daniel Harrop spoke to what he believes distinguishes his campaign. "I am proposing specific remedies to help the finances: no new taxes, no new tax stabilizations, and rolling back the unjust pension that were given out (fire chief retires at $65K, now has $195K pension, etc). I am not afraid to talk about receivership (polite municipal term for bankruptcy) to SAVE most of the pension system -- but it cannot given as promised," said Harrop. "I warned about this 8 years ago in my campaign, that we could not pay the pensions we were promising, I was told by the unions and the Mayor Cicilline this was nonsense, and, low and behold, Taveras cut the pensions. Unfortunately, it has to be done again. I am the only candidate with a plan talking about how to SAVE the pensions and provide the money for the schools we need to re-build."

Democrats Brett Smiley and Michael Solomon offered their views on what set them apart.

"What we need is a progressive mayor who clearly articulates the problems Providence faces and offers specific, comprehensive strategies to address them," said Brett Smiley. "I have already published a detailed plan to make our streets safer, proposed a bill that funds anti-violence efforts by taxing gun and ammunition purchases, suggested reforming the Providence Economic Development Partnership (PEDP) to remove the politics from the loan-making process, released a 17-page plan to create jobs and grow the economy, and unveiled 14 innovative environmental commitments (all of which can be read at SmileyForMayor.com). My campaign has been about setting clear goals and getting things done, and my administration will be no different."

City Council President Michael Solomon volunteered the following. "I have a bold vision for Providence that will create 2,000 jobs and rebuild our schools, which are in dire need of repairs. Many of our schools are more than 50 years old and some are more than 100 years old. Strategically investing in education and jobs are the two keys to expanding opportunity and rebuilding our city's middle class," said Solomon. "Rebuilding our schools will create first-rate learning environments for our children, transform our facilities to encourage increased technology use by our teachers, and create 2,000 good jobs for people in the community by utilizing First Source, apprenticeship programs, as well as local, minority and women contractors."

Students to Weigh In 

On April 24, Young Voices, along with the Providence Student Union, will hold a mayoral forum with all of the candidates confirmed to attend.

Chris Gomez with Young Voices, who is a senior at Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School in Providence, told GoLocal what he viewed as the top issue facing the candidates -- and what he'd like to see once the new Mayor is elected.

"In my opinion, as a student in Providence, a problem facing the city is our education system - and not having a student centered education system," said Gomez. "We need more hands-on learning, and better personalized learning around a student's needs and interests. We need a better tech proficiency -- we're relying too much on standardized testing."

Gomez offered what he thought the next Mayor should address in the schools

"One really big policy that can be beneficial is "restorative practices," said Gomez. "It's the policy that instead of punitive punishment -- taking students out of the classroom, and earning time -- it keeps them in the school instead."

Gomez, who has been accepted at Rhode Island College and will begin summer classes, said he was looking forward to the candidate forum.

"What I want to get out of the forum is to see the candidates taking the students' point of view on the education system, and help them communicate with our city's youth," said Gomez.


Related Slideshow: Providence 2014 Mayoral Candidates’ Top Priorities

See the issues of top concern to Providence Mayoral candidates Lorne Adrain, Jorge Elorza, Dan Harrop, Brett Smiley, and Michael Solomon -- and if elected, what their highest priority would be. 

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Adrain - Top Issue

"Everything starts with the economy.  Real progress will happen when Providence becomes more economically competitive and jobs are being created so that everyone benefits. Schools, neighborhoods and opportunities for all will be improved when our economy takes off."

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Adrain - Administration

"The top priority in an Adrain Administration would be to create meaningful and long lasting economic change.  This is the biggest challenge facing Providence and my experience allows me to help lead Providence's economic recovery." 

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Elorza - Top Issue

"Providence must be a city of opportunity where businesses choose to locate, where graduates choose to stay, and where families choose to raise their children."

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Elorza - Administration

"My top priority is to make Providence that city and to create opportunities-- strong schools, good jobs, and safe communities-- that will allow families in every one of our neighborhoods to thrive."

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Harrop - Top Issue

"City finances: $600 million deficit in pension plan, $1billion deficit in benefits plan, reductions -- because of finances -- in police causing public safety concerns (down 75 from several years ago, when the academy graduates at the end of the year, given further retirements, we will really only be back up about 20-25 new officers), reduced ambulance runs, potholes, crumbling schools, etc., etc."

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Harrop - Administration

"Getting the unions into the office and reminding them, again, the city cannot pay the pensions it has promised.  Again, the GOP said this 8 years ago, and we were right, the Democrats wrong.  We are saying this again (this time, the Dems are silent -- interpret that as you will -- I interpret it that they know we are right, but they have problems admitting their complicity in this problem). We can further negotiate reductions, or move to receivership.  Until we acknowledge we cannot pay the pensions, we will be unable to come up with the money for any and all of the spending programs the Democrats are proposing.  Further increasing the highest commercial tax rates in the nation is not the answer, and only further depresses the city's economic fortunes."

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Smiley - Top Issue

"The most pressing issue facing Providence is our economic well-being, and that's why I've made job creation and economic development a centerpiece of my campaign. We've certainly made progress over the past few years and I'm grateful for the work Mayor Taveras has done to bring us back from the verge of bankruptcy, but we're not out of the woods yet."

Prev Next

Smiley - Administration

"With little left to cut and nothing left to tax, my top priority will be to grow the economy and make City Hall a place where anybody, regardless of whether they "know a guy," can easily start or grow a business."

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Solomon - Top Issue

"The most pressing issue is economic development, and there are several components to this: creating jobs, growing our middle class and ensuring that every child has access to a good school. As a small business owner, I understand the challenges of running a business. I want to make it easier to do business in Providence. As City Council President, I've taken on those challenges by supporting a freeze on the commercial tax rate and moving the permitting process online, making it easier for developers to do business. I also want to rebuild our middle class and improve education, goals that can be achieved through my plan - "Rebuilding Providence" - which will invest $250 million to create 2,000 jobs and rebuild our schools."

Prev Next

Solomon - Administration

"As Mayor, my top priority will be creating a city with opportunity for all. I will work together with everyone in the community to rebuild Providence's middle class, create jobs and strengthen our schools. I believe the people who know best how to improve our neighborhoods are the people in living in them. As Mayor, I won't be stuck behind a desk at City Hall. I'll be a Mayor in the neighborhoods, working hand in hand with the community to rebuild Providence."


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ONE candidate mentioned taxes, and it wasn't a democrat.

Comment #1 by David Beagle on 2014 04 19

Unless your receiving entitlements..living,working,owning property,parking,or running a small business in Providence is a daily gut wrenching siege. Just the tax burden alone is a nightmare! Thank you Democrats for killing the hopes and dreams of the middle class...thank you for taking our money to pay for your votes as you roll out the red carpet for moochers and looters and pull the rug out from under the rest of us! If Providence elects another Democrat Mayor (especially a progressive one) you may as well start packing because Providence will become an absolutely unsustainable place to live. Can you say Detroit anyone?

Comment #2 by LENNY BRUCE on 2014 04 19

GoLocal - wouldn't it be great to do a story on 10 Providence residents' top priorities in selecting a new Mayor? Cross section, young and old, business, home owners, renters, students, meds & eds, etc...you could even choose by neighborhoods - East Side, West Side, downtown, etc.

Comment #3 by Nancy Thomas on 2014 04 19

Providence isn’t going to solve any of its problems until it cuts taxes and cuts spending. There is plenty of waste and corruption so don’t tell me there’s nothing to cut. That’s ridiculous.

Providence has got to shed its high-tax, business-unfriendly reputation.

Cut taxes 10% and cut spending 15% department by department—every department—Public Works, Schools, Police, Fire—everyone. We have all tightened our belts in recent years and most us by a lot more than 15%. Keep the essential stuff, cut the wasteful, stupid, and dishonest spending.

If a leader came along and showed the courage to do what needs to be done there are many of us who would stand with him or her and fight the good fight and things would get better.

Businesses would start to move back. There would be more jobs for more people. Eventually that would generate more revenue.

Cut taxes and cut spending. That is clearly what needs to be done and the sooner the better.

Comment #4 by James Berling on 2014 04 19

Just some of the loony Dan Harrop's answers at www.VoteSmart.com the crazies from Tea-Party might agree with him, but this guy won't get any votes from those in the "middle" that are 100% necessary for a Republican to win in liberal.. R.I.

1 Should abortion be legal when the life of the woman is endangered? ..NO (Sammy ask ..Let the woman die??)

2 Should a minor who sends sexually-explicit or nude photos by cell phone face criminal charges?..NO (Sammy says Attn Parents)

3 Do you support requiring background checks on gun sales between private citizens at gun shows? ..NO (let convicted felons own guns??)

5 Do you support restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns? NO ....(None LOL) Not even for mentally ill folks ???
6 Should Rhode Island allow same-sex couples to form civil unions? ..NO (what a dope)

Never forget in 1983 Reagan disarmed the Marines while ordering them into Beirut, 241 Marines died needlessly.

Comment #5 by Sammy Arizona on 2014 04 20

You are right Sammy Arizona, those were some really loopy ideas. Best idea, let Providence declare bankruptcy before it pulls the entire state down.

Comment #6 by Roy D on 2014 04 20

Solomon the business owner who raised your taxes over and over!

Comment #7 by anthony sionni on 2014 04 21

Sammy if you are such a dire hard democrat, why do live in a state with a republican governor? If you love how the state is being run, why leave?

Also, Ms. Nagle ca you disclose that you are a shill for the Democratic party before you write an article that is only investigative with the one person running who does not have an (D) in front of their name?

Comment #8 by Silence Dogood on 2014 04 21

P.S.... Stop asking high school kids what the "issue of the day is" all they will repeat is the dribble that comes from their progressive teachers. Also what life experience do they have to base it on?

Comment #9 by Silence Dogood on 2014 04 21

I'll note that progressive cities that embrace diversity and emphasize quality of life such as walkability, education, good transit, arts, parks, low crime and such are relatively booming: see Portland, Austin, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Burlington and more. I'd like to see more of such a vision from our candidates.

Comment #10 by barry schiller on 2014 04 21

@ barry. From all appearances, Providence has more than enough progressive, needs a lot more economic common sense. Look at the tax structure and economic base of New York (way out of our league), Austin (further out of our league), Seattle (still further out of our league because of Boeing), and San Fran (way, way out because of its tech).

Comment #11 by Roy D on 2014 04 21

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