Jorge Elorza: 14 Who Made a Difference in RI in 2014
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
The former Housing Court judge and Roger Williams University law professor entered the race as a relative unknown, facing off against City Council President Michael Solomon and well-connected lobbyist Brett Smiley and businessman Lorne Adrain in the Democratic primary, before the latter two bowed out to ensure his chances of success. A strong backing by the East Side and the "Anybody But Cianci" machine helped Elorza prevail in the high-profile race that garnered national -- and international -- attention, as all eyes were on whether voters would go with "Prince of Providence" Cianci, a two-time convicted felon who also turned the City around once before, or the untested newcomer.
"Television ad buys still matter, but they're beginning to matter less," Rhode Island College Professor of Communications Valerie Endress told GoLocal following the election. "Jorge Elorza won his primary in an unconventional matter, as it took two candidates to drop out of the race to position him for victory. Nevertheless, he was able to emerge as the top candidate by focusing on his ground game from the beginning, and to rely upon other outlets to get his campaign message to the voter. Even in the general election race, with outside money coming into play, he remained focused on the ground game. While the anti-Cianci TV ads were certainly a factor, I suspect that Elorza's online campaign and dispatching the door-to-door troops early and often made a difference in this election."
All eyes will continue to be on Elorza as he takes office, making him not just one who made a difference this past year, but one to watch in the coming year -- and years ahead.
Related Slideshow: 14 Who Made a Difference in RI in 2014
See who made a difference in RI this past year BELOW.
Providence's Mayor-elect prevailed in an epic battle of old Providence versus new, when he bested two-time former Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci (and Republican Dr. Daniel Harrop, who ended up voting for him), running on a platform of "One Providence."
With the success of the Steel Yard already an accomplishment for Rockefeller -- and boon for Providence -- the entrepreneur added the Dean Hotel to his list of impactful projects, and accolades soon followed suit.
The President of the NAACP Providence Branch, Vincent was a constant presence whenever there was call for action in the city during the past year, from seeing the opening of the Davey Lopes pool after the year long effort to reopen it, to calling for support when gang-fueled violence reached a head on multiple occasions.
In a year that saw the Rhode Island Democratic Party endorse three statewide candidates that ended up losing (Ralph Mollis, Frank Caprio, and Guillaume de Ramel) and no women, Secretary of State-elect Nellie Gorbea proved that a strong understanding of the office coupled with a populist likability could overcome deeper pockets.
The second-team All-American pick by NBC Sports was one of the main reasons Providence College snagged the Big East mens basketball title last season -- its first since 1994. After GoLocal dubbed Rhode Island basketball coaches as part of the "13 Who Made a Difference in 2013', Cotton stood out last season for his individual accolades that led the Friars on its successful run.
One of the lightning rods in Rhode Island in 2014, restaurateur Gianfranco Marrocco's decision to open $3 Bar on Atwells Avenue brought Federal Hill back into the spotlight as it hadn't been since the days of Raymond Patriarca.
The prolific (and controversial) film director brought big time Hollywood to Rhode Island when reports first had Allen coming to the Ocean State for his latest project early in June, bringing in high-profile stars Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone.
It was a speech heard around the world, on TV sets and replayed on social media, and part of the reason, among many, that Belisle was nominated for Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year
After coaching the Cumberland Americans into the Little League World Series for the second time in three years, Belisle addressed his team after it was eliminated in heartbreaking fashion, and made a speech that no one will ever forget.
In a town known for great restaurants -- and great chefs -- Sukle has raised the bar once again in Providence with Birch. Tapped as a "Trender" by GoLocal in 2013, Sukle and his wife have garnered the attention not just of local foodies -- Birch was nominated by Bon Appetit magazine for "Best New Restaurant in America" this past year.
The seemingly up-and-comer Cano has been on the radar screen for some time. Picked as one of 13 to Watch in 2013, Cano, a Shea High School graduate, had just been the first Latina elected to the Pawtucket School Board.
"Don’t be surprised if the school committee is just the first step in this up-and-comer’s political career," GoLocal wrote on January 1, 2013. "She has already been chosen to represent the United States at the United Nations Commission of Status of Women—a summit to advocate for women’s rights— has plenty of insiders calling her a rising star in local politics."
Citizens for John Hope
John Hope Settlement House is a community based organization that grew from a vision of public spirited African American leaders to serve their neighbors in the late 1920’s -- and is currently the subject of a movement of concerned citizens to shine the light on issues at the house -- and its future.
When former Rhode Island Speaker of the House Gordon Fox's office was raided by the FBI, State Police, and IRS in March, the future of the Rhode Island General Assembly was immediately uncertain. The Speaker of the House is arguably the most powerful position in the state, and Fox, who had been Speaker since 2010, resigned his top post the following day amidst the tumult.
The venerable Providence theater continues to make a huge difference in the lives of audiences with its award-winning productions -- and through its Project Discovery, has introduced the theater to 1.3 million people from ages 5 to 66 since it began in 1966.
This year, more than 7,500 school children will get to see a morning matinee of A Christmas Carol, thanks to Project Discovery.
Hockey players are known for their strength and tenacity on the ice -- and Rhode Island hockey player Bryan Berard proved they can be just as tough off of it.
The Woonsocket native, who played in the NHL for 11 years, helped investigators scrutinize bank transfers and payments from a string of investments that may have bilked up to $100 million from Berard and more than a dozen of his colleagues on the ice.