GoLocal Endorsement for Mayor of Providence: A New Direction for the City
Providence has been in the condition of “almost being” a great city for a long time. Governance over the past few years has done little to advance the effort to join the top tier. Current Mayor Jorge Elorza’s political slogan “One Providence” never led to substantial change. Too often, it seemed to be just “One Elorza." Sadly, most of his reasonable initiatives were lost because of a lack of consensus building. Now, Providence voters must consider three mayoral candidates, each of whom could put the city on firmer ground and move it forward. Gonzalo Cuervo, Nirva LaFortune, and Brett Smiley have all distinguished themselves. While LaFortune has offered some interesting ideas about education, Smiley and Cuervo have stood out in running stronger, better-organized campaigns – suggesting management ability – and in answering all questions. LaFortune is a talented politician who has much to offer the city. But we regret that she didn’t accept our invitation to answer questions in order to be considered for endorsement. Smiley is a competent administrator, and he has promised to do such “urban mechanic’’ things as fixing potholes and, all in all, run the city more competently than the current mayor. He offers what appears to be a practical solution to the city’s pension problem – having the state take over Providence’s pension plan. He is a strong policy thinker. In addition, Smiley has a network of professional relationships that could be an asset to the city. But a blind spot continues to be ethics. He owned a political-consulting firm while serving as the city’s chief operating officer in the Elorza administration and during his tenure as chief of staff for former Gov. Gina Raimondo. In another ethical lapse, he was fined for that by the Rhode Island Ethics Commission and, even after that, Smiley accepted and did not return a donation from Ricky Dion — a former police officer, a convicted felon, and a man whom law enforcement identifies as being associated with organized crime. Cuervo, for his part, has demonstrated an ability to bring people together. He is supported by a wide range of leaders, from conservative Democrat Maryellen Goodwin, the majority whip in the State Senate, to progressive senators Sam Bell and Tiara Mack. Like Smiley, he has held key positions for top-level elected officials, including then-Mayor David Cicilline, Mayor Angel Tavares, and Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea. In each case, he demonstrated administrative talent and approachability. Cuervo’s policy positions are often left of Smiley’s — how left is an unknown. Elected office and its predictable -- and unpredictable -- problems usually make newly elected officials more pragmatic than they might sound in the heat of a campaign. A critical challenge for the new mayor will be developing a productive relationship with the next city council — a council that, due to term limits, will, in general, be younger, more progressive, and very inexperienced. This task appears to align with Cuervo’s strengths. He has the ability to relate to all of Providence and knows City Hall and the State House very well. All three candidates are talented, and all could serve the city well, but for the aforementioned reasons, GoLocal endorses Gonzalo Cuervo. While we may not agree with all of his policy positions -- for example, he once floated bulldozing the Triggs golf course for housing when there are hundreds of vacant lots available -- we believe that he is the right person to lead the city at this time. Our great hope is that whoever is elected takes Providence from the potential of being a great city to actually being one.
ABC 6 News: Gonzalo Cuervo says if elected as Providence mayor, he’ll work to fix public education
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Providence mayoral candidate Gonzalo Cuervo said in order to fix public education in the city, you need to start by working together. “It feels like the only real thing we’ve accomplished with the state takeover is adding an additional layer of bureaucracy,” Cuervo said. “Our school department has amazing talent. One of the challenges that we’ve had is that the conversation around public education in Providence and in other urban areas have become so costly that they’re just people yelling at each other.” If elected, Cuervo said he’s excited to work with the superintendent and other education leaders to fix things. “I think what we need is consistency in leadership, in curriculum and accountability,” added Cuervo. “We need for our youth to not feel like they’re just going into a building to be taught. They’re going into a community that welcome them with open arms.”
Graduate Labor Organization Endorses Gonzalo Cuervo for Mayor of Providence
The Graduate Labor Organization (GLO), the 1000+ member union of graduate student employees at Brown University, has endorsed Gonzalo Cuervo for Mayor of Providence. They said Cuervo’s bold housing policies, leadership experience, and background set him apart from his competitors. “We have full confidence in Gonzalo's housing platform and commitment to making Providence an affordable place to live for working people. Moreover, we are excited to support a candidate who will prioritize addressing the city’s housing crisis through the public development of affordable housing and rent stabilization over the enrichment of private developers and real estate speculators,” said Michael Ziegler, Political Director of GLO. He went on to say, “ As a union we are working to ensure that our employer and other large non-profits pay their fair share so that Providence can provide the high-quality services residents expect from local government. We are particularly concerned with using the negotiation of new PILOT agreements to secure revenue that will give Providence Public School District teachers the resources they need. We believe that out of all the candidates in this race Gonzalo is in the best position to work with members of the city council and Providence's statehouse delegation, as well as community organizations, to hold Brown accountable in PILOT negotiations.” “I am proud to earn the support of the Graduate Labor Organization”, said Cuervo. “I got my start in community organizing nearly three decades ago and I am inspired by the membership’s dedication to social and economic justice for workers and for all the city’s residents. I look forward to working closely with them to ensure economic and social justice throughout Providence.” Graduate Labor Organization (in a previous iteration called “Stand Up for Graduate Students Employees”) was established in 2014 to advocate for graduate student-workers at Brown University. Their mission is to advocate for graduate worker needs and protections through organizing, collective action, and collective bargaining; and strive to build an interconnected and caring community that supports feminist and anti-racist values. Members come from departments and schools within the university, and are affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals (RIFTHP). To learn more about GLO, visit their website at www.glounion.org. GLO joins a growing list of Cuervo’s endorsors, including four Providence State Senators, four Providence State Representatives and three Providence City Councilors. Gonzalo has also been endorsed by Reclaim RI, Climate Action RI, the Providence Fire Fighters (IAFF Local 799), the Rhode Island Latino Political Action Committee, and dozens of community and neighborhood leaders representing the city’s 25 neighborhoods.
The Bartholomewtown Podcast: DEBATE: The Mayor of Providence
Bill Bartholomew moderates a debate in the Democratic primary for mayor of Providence featuring candidates Gonzalo Cuervo, Nirva LaFortune and Brett Smiley.
Uprise RI: Gonzalo Cuervo’s housing plan earns him progressive endorsements, sets high bar for other mayoral candidates
Candidate for Mayor of Providence Gonzalo Cuervo unveiled his plan to tackle the housing affordability crisis in Providence at a press conference in South Providence Monday morning. His plan includes rent stabilization, a cutting-edge city program to develop mixed income housing, an eviction prevention program, and zoning reform.
Representative David Morales Endorses Gonzalo Cuervo for Mayor of Providence
Champion for Providence’s working families, State Representative David Morales, has endorsed Gonzalo Cuervo for Mayor of Providence. Rep. Morales said Cuervo is the best candidate to lead Providence to economic prosperity for all and that Cuervo’s commitment to working with Providence’s General Assembly delegation won his support. “I'm proud to support Gonzalo Cuervo for Mayor of Providence as he is truly committed to the working people and families in our communities. Through his constant engagement with our neighbors, he has prepared a concrete plan of policies to urgently address the issues most important to our working families and underserved communities. From the expansion of public and affordable housing to improving basic city services to holding private universities financially accountable to fully implementing the Providence Climate Justice Plan -- I know Gonzalo will continue to work with the people in our community to introduce a City budget and a series of ordinances that improves the quality of life in Providence. As a State Representative, I look forward to working closely with Gonzalo to support policies and investments centered around equity and real systemic change across Providence.” Rep. Morales was elected to serve House District Seven, which represents the neighborhoods of Mount Pleasant and Elmhurst in Providence. “I’m so excited to have Rep. Morales’ endorsement. In his first term, he’s been an incredible advocate for Providence, from stopping the theft of workers’ tipped wages to ensuring that whistleblowers’ immigration status can’t be used as a weapon against them. But I’m also excited because he represents so much about the fresh energy that Providence has. As a representative for Providence, he’s fought to improve both our city and our state. As mayor, I’m going to need people like David to help me make a more equal Providence for all.” Cuervo said. Representative Morales is the eleventh serving elected official in Providence to endorse Cuervo for Mayor; he is the fourth of the city’s representatives and the eighth member of Providence’s General Assembly delegation to endorse. Other General Assembly endorsers include senators Maryellen Goodwin (District 1 - Smith Hill), Ana Quezada (District 2 - Elmwood), Sam Bell (District 5 - Mount Pleasant, Elmhurst, Federal Hill, Valley, and the northern part of the West End) and Tiara Mack (District 6 - Mount Hope and South Providence) and state representatives Grace Diaz (District 11 - Elmwood and West End), Jose Batista (District 12 - Washington Park and South Providence), and Ramon Perez (District 13 - Silver Lake). Three Providence city councilors have endorsed Cuervo as well; councilors Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11 - South Providence, West End, and Elmwood), Kat Kerwin (Ward 12 - Smith Hill, Valley, and Elmhurst), and Rachel Miller (Ward 13 - Federal Hill and West End). In addition, Cuervo is also endorsed in the primary by former Mayor of Providence Angel Taveras, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, Mayor of Central Falls Maria Rivera, Sen. Sandra Cano and Rep. Karen Alzate of Pawtucket, and city councilors Lammis Vargas (Cranston) and Franklin Solano (Central Falls). Finally, Cuervo has been endorsed by the Providence Fire Fighters, (IAFF Local 799), Climate Action of Rhode Island, and dozens of diverse community and neighborhood leaders across the city who want to move Providence’s families, neighborhoods, and the city forward (a full list of endorsers is available at https://www.gonzaloforprovidence.com/endorsements).
Uprise RI: Providence mayoral candidates tackle questions from addiction recovery community
The Rhode Island Communities for Addiction Recovery Efforts (RICARES) held a Mayoral forum on Tuesday evening at the Jim Gillen Teen Center on North Main Street to discuss recovery and addiction issues. Impacted community members and advocates shared their experiences and asked candidates for mayor of Providence how they will address the topics of harm reduction, policing, and housing. The event was cohosted by Anchor Recovery, Amos House, Project Weber/Renew, PONI (Preventing Overdose & Naloxone Intervention), Recovery Friendly Workplaces RI, and The Recovery Advocacy Project and moderated by Channel 10 reporter Alison Bologna.
LPR News: Climate Action RI Endorses Gonzalo Cuervo for Mayor of Providence
PROVIDENCE, RI — Climate Action RI (CARI), the Rhode Island climate action group and affiliate of 350.org (the national climate action organization co-founded by legendary climate activist Bill McKibben) has endorsed Gonzalo Cuervo for Mayor of Providence. “Gonzalo has the skills, relationships, community ties, and vision to get the job done”, said Caitlin Sanford, CARI’s Providence Politics Team lead.
Providence Fire Fighters Endorse Gonzalo Cuervo for Mayor of Providence
Today, Providence Fire Fighters, IAFF Local 799, have announced their endorsement of Gonzalo Cuervo for Mayor of Providence. Citing Cuervo’s long-standing working relationship with the city’s Fire Fighters and his commitment to improving communication and cooperation between the city’s unions and the administration, Local 799 President Michael Foley said the choice was clear compared to Cuervo’s competitors. “Gonzalo has always treated Providence’s firefighters with the same respect he gives anyone else,” said Foley. “We know he will be honest with us about what he expects and needs from us, and that he’ll expect the same from Local 799. His commitment to improving lines of communication between the Fire Department and the Mayor’s Office is a welcome change of direction from previous mayors, and we’re looking forward to having a mayor who treats our city’s public servants with care and respect. We’re looking forward to getting out there and telling the whole city it’s time to elect a mayor who believes in Providence.” “This endorsement is an honor,” said Cuervo. “It’s no secret that the City of Providence’s relationship with its public employee unions has, at times, been contentious. I have been at the table across from Local 799 during some difficult contract negotiations. It’s that experience that makes me so proud to earn this endorsement. It shows that just because we sometimes sit on opposite sides of a table, we’re not opponents, and that we all want the best for Providence. That's the kind of mayorship I plan to have, one that brings people together rather than seeking to make scapegoats out of our most dedicated public servants.” “Too many of our past mayors have gotten bogged down in needless, vitriolic battles with our public employee unions,” continued Cuervo. “As Mayor, I’m going to put those fights in the past. This campaign is about bringing the people of Providence together to ensure that everyone in our city is able to achieve their dreams. I’m proud that Local 799 is going to be a partner in this campaign to win us that future, and I look forward to working with them as Mayor.” IAFF Local 799 is the labor union that represents firefighters in the City of Providence. Their mission is to preserve and enhance the economic and social standing of their members in a manner commensurate with their heroic calling, as well as safeguard the people of Providence by ensuring that the members of the Providence Fire Department, acting in accordance with the highest ethical and professional standards, are provided with the necessary equipment and training they need to do their jobs. Local 799 joins a long list of elected officials and community leaders who have endorsed Gonzalo for Mayor, including three members of Providence City Council, and seven members of Providence’s General Assembly delegation (three representatives and four senators). In addition, dozens of diverse community and neighborhood leaders across the city who want to move Providence’s families, neighborhoods, and the city forward also endorse Cuervo (a full list of endorsers is available at https://www.gonzaloforprovidence.com/endorsements).
Mayoral Candidate Gonzalo Cuervo releases bold, comprehensive economic vision for Providence
Providence Mayoral candidate Gonzalo Cuervo was joined today by supporters on the steps of City Hall where he announced a sweeping vision for Providence’s future. Cuervo, a former South Side small business owner, top Providence city administrator, and Rhode Island Deputy Secretary of State, drew on his years of experience in public service and diverse community relationships to paint a picture of urgency and lay out a broad economic development agenda. “Many of the challenges that Providence continues to face, including housing affordability, poor performing schools and public safety, are underscored by a widening opportunity gap that impacts us all, regardless of zip code,” said Cuervo. “As Mayor, I will prioritize closing that gap and lifting thousands of families into the middle class through targeted strategies and investments in Providence’s greatest asset: its people.” “Ours is a tale of two cities,” he added. “We are a city of world-class institutions, architecture and attractions. A city outsiders fall in love with immediately. But we are also a city of breathtaking inequality. Throughout our city, and in some neighborhoods more than others, there is pervasive poverty. There is hopelessness. We are living the consequences, still, of decisions made decades ago. Those consequences are stifling our potential as a city. As Mayor, I will leverage the City’s resources and bring stakeholders together to change this narrative once and for all.” “Gonzalo knows our communities,” said Providence Cultural Equity Initiative Founder and long-time community activist Raymond Two Hawks Watson, who introduced Cuervo at the event. “He has been living, working, listening, and leading in Providence for a long time, and he understands what people need.” “My campaign is not about the next four years,” Cuervo stated. “It’s about the next four generations.” His policy platform is organized around the principles of opportunity, resilience, and pride. In describing “the opportunity for people to live lives of dignity and purpose, with options and room for growth,” Cuervo laid out economic policy initiatives such as: ● Collaborate closely with the Governor and legislative leaders to align priorities around economic development opportunities in the capital city. ● Invest in emerging opportunities within the green and blue economies to activate the Port of Providence and create good jobs for Providence. ● Establish a community development financial institution (CDFI) in Providence to serve local businesses and make the city eligible to attract federal resources. ● Require equitable City contracting by expanding and codifying into law the procurement of goods and services from minority-owned, women-owned, and Providence-based businesses. ● Connect BIPOC business owners with capital, technical assistance, and professional support, while ensuring entrepreneurs have the resources they need to start new successful businesses. ● Negotiate with anchor institutions to increase their use of local vendors and suppliers, hire locally, and invest in affordable housing for their workforce. ● Transition away from Tax Stabilization Agreements as the City's default economic development tool. “Resilience is the ability to withstand challenges through flexibility and adaptability, only to emerge stronger as a result,” Cuervo said, pointing to neighborhood-based economic development strategies such as: ● Decentralize the city’s Economic Development office by housing small business navigators in each neighborhood to meet and support entrepreneurs where they are, placing them with trusted community partners like community libraries to bring city government programs, third-party small business development resources, and expertise to their doorsteps. The navigators will provide easy access to coaching, connections, capital, and help navigating city permits to any potential or existing entrepreneur. ● Establish a network of experienced local accountants, attorneys, and technical support services providers to support small businesses in developing business plans, securing financing, and growing sustainably. ● Simplify the City’s business licensing structure to remove undue burdens on small businesses. ● Eliminate pervasive barriers for businesses, vendors, and developers (e.g. by shortening payment times). ● Develop or partner with existing resources to offer an Entrepreneurs Startup Boot Camp of online courses that provide information on the resources, funding, and technical assistance available in the city. These courses would provide a comprehensive checklist for business success. ● Expand support of key partners such as the RI Black Business Association and the RI Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. ● Create thousands of homeownership opportunities, increase housing stock, and incentivize development at every level and price point by leveraging all of the resources at the city’s disposal as well as state and federal resources. ● Regain local control of the Providence Public Schools and focus on long-term solutions centered around active engagement, teaching, and learning that prepare our children for success and entry into tomorrow’s Providence workforce. Pride in Providence is vital to the city’s future, Cuervo noted. “Most mid-sized cities across the country cannot compete with Providence’s history, architecture, diversity, talent, arts and culture, and institutions. Cities our size spend fortunes creating attractions and developing compelling narratives in the hopes of generating the buzz and sense of place that comes naturally to Providence.” His proposals to strengthen and leverage that sense of pride to generate economic activity include: ● Improve city services and operations using technology and public sector best practices and foster a culture of pride, buy-in, and community commitment among city employees. ● Support, elevate, and promote Providence’s rich and diverse cultural assets as a lever to generate economic activity and attract tourists to the city. ● Direct the City’s Economic Development Office and Department of Arts, Culture and Tourism to partner with stakeholders at every level in developing a comprehensive and diverse marketing strategy around Providence’s remarkable culinary, arts, and entertainment venues. ● Support downtown’s post-COVID transformation by activating public spaces through programming and infrastructure repairs, providing technical support and financial tools to local small businesses, and investing in the city’s tourism industry. The full platform is available at https://www.gonzaloforprovidence.com/platform and includes eight planks: Economic Development; Housing; Quality of Life; Climate, Health, and Sustainability; Public Safety; Education; Arts, Culture, and the Nighttime Economy; and Transportation and Mobility
Senator Tiara Mack Endorses Gonzalo Cuervo for Mayor of Providence
State Senator and organizer Tiara Mack has endorsed Gonzalo Cuervo for Mayor of Providence. Senator Mack says she based her decision to endorse Cuervo due to his platform of economic development based on local needs in each neighborhood, improving housing affordability for both renters and homeowners, and tackling the city’s crisis of economic inequality. “Over the course of the campaign, I’ve gotten to know Gonzalo, and he’s demonstrated to me that he’s the candidate with Providence’s best interests at heart,” said Senator Mack. "He understands what our neighborhoods need, what our students and families need, and ultimately, what Providence needs. Whether it’s breaking the cycle of poverty that traps minority and low-income families in failing systems or ensuring that Providence is affordable for all, Gonzalo has proven that he can bring together inclusive teams that will tackle the most important issues facing our city. I’m proud to endorse Gonzalo Cuervo for Mayor of Providence." Senator Mack represents District Six in the State Senate, which contains the neighborhoods of Mount Hope, Downtown, South Providence, and some of Washington Park. An educator and activist, Senator Mack has worked as an Educator and Youth Organizer, empowering young people to engage in local and national social issues. She serves as a Board Member of Women’s Health and Education Fund (WHEF). “I’m proud to have Senator Mack’s support. She has brought an incredible energy and important perspective to Rhode Island and Providence, and she cares deeply about improving our city and our lives here. What makes her endorsement especially notable to me, beyond her importance in our politics, is that few other senators represent as diverse a district as Senator Mack, one that is so reflective of the diversity of Providence. She knows what it takes to speak to many different communities about both the issues we all share and those that specific communities face.” Cuervo said. He continued: “That’s what our city needs to get right, so we ensure we’re winning real change for the people of Providence in City Hall and at the State House. We’re assembling a coalition that believes in Providence. Thank you Senator Mack for joining that coalition.”