The West Broadway Neighborhood Association (WBNA) held three candidate forums on Tuesday evening. All but one of the candidates competing in the Democratic Primary on Wednesday for the positions of Mayor of Providence, City Council Ward 13, State Senate District 5 and State Representative District 9 were in attendance.
The first forum featured the four candidates for Providence City Council Ward 13, Raymond Berarducci III, Cyd McKenna, Rachel Miller and Leslie Papp II. This is an open seat since Councilmember Bryan Principe declined to seek re-election.
The second forum featured two of the three candidates for the position of Mayor of Providence, including incumbent Jorge Elorza and challenger Kobi Dennis. Candidate for Mayor Robert DeRobbio did not attend the forum.
The third forum featured Candidates for State Senate District 5 and House District 9. This included incumbent State Representative Anastasia Williams (District 5) and her challenger Dwayne Keys, and incumbent State Senator Paul Jabour (District 9) and his two challengers, Samuel Bell and Nicholas Autiello II.
Each forum began with one minute for each candidate to introduce themselves, followed by questions. The video below features the answers to the questions, but I occasionally included the video of the question being asked because there was some nuance of interaction that might be lost if I left it out.
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The opening remarks of Raymond Berarducci III:
The opening remarks of Cyd McKenna:
The opening remarks of Rachel Miller:
The opening remarks of Leslie Papp II:
Q1. WBNA went door to door with a survey as part of our ongoing strategic plan. Results show that among the top concerns for neighbors is neighborhood affordability.
Part 1 of our question: Tell us the policy initiative you will spearhead to take this on
Part 2: What can WNBA and neighbors do to help you make this into law?
Q2. I would like to hear what you think and what kind of support you would offer and leadership you will provide in making Providence into a Sanctuary City.
Q3. What efforts will you make to ensure equality for those LGBTQ residents in the Ward, as well as the City?
Q4. In 2016 something like 70 percent of the City voted for an infrastructure bond. Unfortunately the City Council and the Mayor’s office couldn’t come to an agreement as to how that money was to be spent. We now have a five-year infrastructure plan.
But over the last two years we still see a line item in the General Funds section of the City Budget called “Neighborhood Reinvestment” which has been divided into separate accounts for each City Councilmember in a very opaque funding process.
Can you either defend this practice or commit to voting against any budget that includes this opaque funding process?
Q5. What would people who know you well say is your biggest area of growth?
Q6. Given that all candidates for City Council Ward 13 would be new to the Council, How would you make sure that you hit the ground running so that no time is lost in your role of representing our neighborhood?
Specifically, tell us how you prepared for the job. Do you understand the mechanics of decision making, the schedule, the committee structure, etc?
Q7. A question about taxes.
I’ve been in this community for 16 years. When I first got here one house right next door to another house the tax rates were the same. Some time along the way they introduced some kind of a tiered tax structure so if you happened to live in one house and own the house next door that’s identical, the tax rate is nearly double.
The reason that rents are unaffordable is that we’re giving away to billionaire developers Tax Stabilization Agreements (TSAs) and instead of taking the 195 land and building and attracting companies with high paying jobs that we need here in the City, the proposals have been for luxury housing where the billionaires are not going to pay taxes and you and I are going to be paying the taxes to subsidize these people in this luxury housing.
I want to know what you’re going to do to stop the TSAs, make sure the 195 land is used for building and attracting companies and businesses with jobs, and how to alleviate the stress on the property taxes for neighbors here in this Ward and throughout the City.
Q8. There is an ever increasing budget gap in the funding of Providence Schools, due in large part to public tax dollars leaving the system to support an ever increasing number of Charter School seats. I have heard that this years gap is $2 million, next year’s gap will be $12 million and the following year $22 million as the State’s funding formula becomes fully implemented for many of the Charter Schools drawing from Providence.
What will you specifically do to keep public tax dollars available for Providence Public Schools, especially given that those schools educate some of our City’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable children, including those with special needs and disabilities?
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