Politics & Elections

Providence mayoral candidates make their case to voters at southside forum

Providence’s Trinity Square Together (TST) coalition hosted a mayoral forum on Tuesday featuring the three Democratic candidates vying to be the next mayor of Providence. The current mayor, Jorge Elorza, is term limited.
Photo for Providence mayoral candidates make their case to voters at southside forum

Published on July 13, 2022
By Steve Ahlquist

Providence’s Trinity Square Together (TST) coalition hosted a mayoral forum on Tuesday featuring the three Democratic candidates vying to be the next mayor of Providence. The current mayor, Jorge Elorza, is term limited.

Held at the Southside Cultural Center, the forum was moderated by Jesus Ayala, a volunteer with TST. Spanish language interpretation was provided in real time.

Jesus Ayala

During the forum, each candidate was given three minutes to answer questions posed by the moderator. The event opened and closed with brief statements from the candidates.

The Candidates:

Gonzalo Cuervo has served as Chief of Staff under Mayor Angel Taveras and as Chief of Staff and Deputy Secretary of State under Nellie Gorbea.

Gonzalo Cuervo

Nirva LaFortune is the Providence City Councilor for Ward 3.

Nirva LaFortune

Brett Smiley has served as Chief Operating Officer under Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and Chief of Staff to Governor Gina Raimondo.

Brett Smiley

Opening statements:

Gonzalo Cuervo:

Nirva LaFortune:

Brett Smiley:

Question 1: How will you be both compassionate to those without housing and/or struggling with addiction, yet sensitive to people who feel that they have borne their fair share in this neighborhood in terms of helping people with social services needs?

Gonzalo Cuervo:

Nirva LaFortune:

Brett Smiley:

Question 2: What is your vision for Providence schools, and particularly South Providence schools, and how to improve them. Do you favor the state or city controlling them, and why?

Gonzalo Cuervo:

Nirva LaFortune:

Brett Smiley:

Question 3: We are worried about housing affordability in the Southside and there has been a lot of talk but no real action. What specifically will you do as mayor to ensure that people can stay in their homes? Also, please explain how the Housing Trust Fund will fit into your plans.

Nirva LaFortune:

Brett Smiley:

Gonzalo Cuervo:

Question 4: Everyone agrees that Trinity Square, the area of Broad Street that goes from Grace Church Cemetery down to Classical High School, needs help. The city has no overall plan. What is your plan for committing resources to this area so that it is safer, more attractive and more functional?

Nirva LaFortune:

Brett Smiley:

Gonzalo Cuervo:

Question 5: Community leaders in the area have identified a need for youth development opportunities. The lack of opportunities have promoted the rise of activities such as ATVs or four-tracks, fireworks, and other noise polluting activities. How does your administration plan to increase positive development outlets for the youth in our city?

Brett Smiley:

Gonzalo Cuervo:

Nirva LaFortune:

Question 6: How do you stop the privatization of Providence, from the medical non-profits and universities?

Gonzalo Cuervo:

Nirva LaFortune:

Brett Smiley:

Question 7: Are you in favor of expanding the footprint of the Port of Providence?

Nirva LaFortune:

Brett Smiley:

Gonzalo Cuervo:

Question 8: Will you commit to decreasing the police budget or the police force through attrition during your time in office and reallocate that money to other social services?

Brett Smiley:

Gonzalo Cuervo:

Nirva LaFortune:

Question 9: Will you continue the PVD 311 if elected?

Gonzalo Cuervo:

Nirva LaFortune:

Brett Smiley:

Closing Statements:

Nirva LaFortune:

Brett Smiley:

Gonzalo Cuervo:

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