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Candidates for Providence City Council meet make their case to downtown residents



The Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA) held an “interactive discussion with candidates” running for Providence City Council in Ward 1 and 12, which includes downtown, Fox Point, Smith Hill, and other neighborhoods. All the candidates attended, including Ward 1 incumbent Seth Yurdin, his challenger Justice Gaines, Ward 12 incumbent Terrence Hassett and his challenger Kat Kerwin. All four candidates are Democrats.

Rich Pezzillo, president of the DNA insisted that this was not a debate, but a chance to get to know the candidates and to learn their positions on topics of importance to the neighborhood. Questions concerning downtown development, including the I-195 land, Kennedy Plaza and homelessness, education and the state of Providence schools and the “nighttime economy” of downtown and the administration of the various festivals and celebrations downtown were some of the topics discussed.

Below is all the video, save for a small part where I had to switch out the battery on my camera. (sorry)

The meeting was held at The Pavilion at Grace, the recently completed wedding venue at Grace Episcopal Church downtown.

Each candidate was given two minutes to introduce themselves. First up is Providence City Councilmember Terrence Hassett, who has served on the Providence City Council since 1993.

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Kat Kerwin is a millennial and the communications director for the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence.

Justice Gaines is an organizer with Rhode Island Jobs With Justice. She has long been active in a host of social justice issues in Rhode Island.

Providence City Councilmember Seth Yurdin was first elected in 2006.

The first question asked was about the candidate’s priorities, and what issues they would like to address in their first year of office.

A question about downtown development, the proposed Fain Tower and the development of the I-195 land. This also brought up the issue of affordable and low-income housing:

A question about the “nighttime economy” and the various festivals that happen downtown:

A question about the need to be in communication with residents and reflect their values and needs while in office:

A question about moving some of the RIPTA bus services from Kennedy Plaza and towards the State House also touched on the issue of homelessness.

A question about charter schools, public schools and education:

More about schools and the school-to-prison pipeline. (This is where I need to change my battery, my apologies to Justice Gaines and Seth Yurdin for losing the end of their answers here.)

More on education and the education budget:

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.