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GoLocalProv Exclusive Interview: Taveras Promises to End Budget Deficit

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

 

After all that door knocking, all the campaign events, all those hours spent with perpetual loud mouth Chris Young, Angel Taveras finally took office Monday, promising to meet Providence’s many challenges head on and lead the city out of the financial storm it is in.

His roughly 15 minute speech invoked John F. Kennedy, but he sounded a lot like a much more recent President: Jed Bartlet, the fictional commander-in-chief from The West Wing, one of Taveras’ favorite shows. Never one to set the bar low, the new Mayor said he envisions Providence schools becoming the envy of American urban education and pledged to immediately begin a national search for an economic-development director.

A sweeping vision
One of the fascinating parts of Taveras’ rise to power was his ability to engage a diverse group of supporters, particularly young people, to help secure his victory in an often-ugly four-way Democratic primary. In a year where apathy was the norm in Rhode Island, Taveras built one of the largest ground games the city has ever seen.

In an interview with GoLocalProv following his inauguration, Taveras said he hopes to make his supporters proud by always doing what he feels is right for the city. He also made it clear that he expects Providence to look much different after his first term in office.

“In four years, Providence will have a balanced budget,” he said. “There will be no structural deficit. Providence will be the best urban education system in the country, there will be more people working, less pot holes and the city will be safer.”

The challenges
Early in his speech, Taveras said history will reflect the city owes a great debt of gratitude to outgoing-Mayor David Cicilline for leading Providence out of a storm of corruption. But then he focused on the deep hole the city has fallen into under his predecessor. Calling the current fiscal situation unsustainable, Taveras said it will take shared sacrifices from everyone to help put the city back on solid financial footing.

Afterward, he addressed the issue that has constantly been brought up since he began his run for Mayor: the status of Police Chief Dean Esserman. He said the decision will be in the hands of his new Public Safety Commissioner.

“This is something I will discuss with Steven Pare,” Taveras said. “He will hopefully be confirmed by the City Council and then I expect a prompt review of every department, not just the police. That will be the first order of business.”

Moving forward
Taveras was never short on promises during his campaign, but after a day of celebration, he wakes up to a city in crisis. He spent yesterday offering lofty goals and it remains to be seen if he can live up to expectations.

But defying the odds is something Taveras is used to.

And that West Wing comparison?
 

 

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