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Candidates for Providence Ward 8 City Council attend a sometimes heated forum



All five candidates for Providence City Council Ward 8 attended the South Elmwood Neighborhood Association‘s Meet the Candidates Forum held at Centro Cristiano de Adoración church on Elmwood Avenue in Providence. Democrats Deya Garcia, Wilbur Jennings Jr and James Taylor joined independent candidates David Talan and Carlos Diaz to answer questions from moderator Pastor Hazael Morell and the audience. Jennings is the incumbent.

Towards the end of the forum Providence Mayoral candidate Robert DeRobbio addressed the audience and took questions.

Rhode Island State Representative Ramon Perez (Democrat, District 13, Providence, Johnston), who is facing a challenge from Democrat Mario Méndez, attended the forum and engaged in a somewhat heated discussion about Providence’s “pension crisis” with the candidates.

Here’s the video:

Independent candidate David Talan introduces himself:

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Democratic candidate James Taylor introduces himself:

Democratic candidate Deya Garcia introduces herself:

Incumbent Democratic candidate Wilbur Jennings Jr introduces himself:

Independent candidate Carlos Diaz introduces himself:

“We know that we have a pension problem in the City. Our pension is severely underfunded to the point that it might put the City finances at risk of bankruptcy,” said Pastor Morell, setting up the evening’s first question. “Do you agree with the proposal that’s on the table from the current Mayor Jorge Elorza to lease the Water Supply Board? Yes or No. If you are in disagreement, what do you propose instead, as a possible way to deal with the pension crisis in our City?”

Carlos Diaz:

Wilbur Jennings Jr:

Deya Garcia (Note: I appended a clarification question from an audience member about the water to the end of garcia’s response.):

James Taylor:

David Talan:

The first question from the audience is a continuation of the pension question from earlier.

James Taylor:

Deya Garcia:

David Talan:

A question for Wilbur Jennings Jr about the speed cameras in Providence. Jennings voted for the cameras, but now says he opposes them.

A comment/question about education from an audience member:

Carlos Diaz:

James Taylor:

David Talan:

Representative Ramon Perez asked what the candidates propose to do about the pension if selling the water is off the table.

“We already answered that,” said Garcia.

“No,” countered Perez. “I was here… no one will say they will support taking the city into bankruptcy or they will do something…”

“What will you do to help Providence get out of bankruptcy?” Garcia shot back. “We don’t have power. We are running for City Council. You are an elected official. What are you doing right now at the State House? What have you been doing… as a sitting legislator, to help the City of Providence?”

“I’m one in 75, you know that?” replied Perez. “Let me tell you something. The last time the Mayor went there, asking us to support the water [sale] I asked him, ‘Okay, you want to sell the water. But tell me what you’re doing to prevent it. You take $300 million in the pension system, what are you doing to prevent it?’ …

“And [Mayor Elorza] said, ‘You know what? I don’t know.’ And he’s the one who had four years there and I have just been there for two years.”

Carlos Diaz:

Wilbur Jennings Jr

A question about the pension system for David Talan:

A question from the audience about Deya Garcia’s support for a $15 minimum wage:

A question for Deya Garcia about he lawn signs showing up on public property:

Democratic Mayoral candidate Robert DeRobbio addresses the audience:

Representative Ramon Perez asks DeRobbio about the pension system:

Another question about the pension system for DeRobbio:

David Talan

James Taylor

Deya Garcia

Robert DeRobbio

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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.