Politics & Elections

Providence City Council candidate Corey Jones makes his pitch to Ward 3 voters

“We need and overarching, ambitious plan for climate. We need a city-level Green New Deal,” said Corey Jones. “I think communities of color should be leading that effort because they’re the most affected.”
Photo for Providence City Council candidate Corey Jones makes his pitch to Ward 3 voters

Published on February 28, 2022
By Steve Ahlquist

Corey Jones is a candidate for Providence City Council, Ward 3. Jones is the founder and former executive director of the Black Lives Matter RI PAC, a former advisor to Governor Daniel McKee and currently works at the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training.

Uprise RI spoke with Jones about his campaign inside the Black Lives Matter RI offices in Pawtucket on Saturday. The videos are broken up by subject matter, based on answers to the questions asked.


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First up, Corey Jones introduced himself:

As you go door to door for your campaign and meet voters, what’s been the top concerns you’re hearing from voters?

“The number one concern has been education,” said Jones, before breaking down the responses he’s received by neighborhood. Those in the Mt. Hope neighborhood are concerned with public safety, with education being a close second, voters in other neighborhoods hold education as their top priority. The aging population is concerned about the condition of the sidewalks and streets.

Education:

“We’ve seen historically that no takeover (of municipal school districts by the state) has ever been successful… I’m eager to see us get the schools back, and I wouldn’t say I’m opposed to an elected school board.” That said Jones went on to make an argument in favor of an elected school board.

Public Safety:

“We need to hold our police accountable because when people don’t believe in the legal system they take matters into their own hands…We [need to] create faith in our public safety systems.”

This includes strengthening PERA (Providence External Review Authority), the civilian police oversight board, restricting or even banning pepper spray, and creating better strategies and opportunities towards reintegrating the formerly incarcerated back into our communities.

Related to pepper spray, the Port of Providence is a highly polluted area of mostly low-income, mostly people of color with some of the highest asthma rates in New England. What do we do about the Port?

“We need and overarching, ambitious plan for climate. We need a city-level Green New Deal… I think communities of color should be leading that effort because they’re the most affected.”

Gentrification:

How do we make the area around the Port nicer while avoiding gentrification and not moving low-income people out of their homes?

“That’s why we need communities of color to lead the effort… they have to be in on the beginning of the plan to the end of the plan… We have to have a plan for the displacement and plan for the loss of jobs.”

Affordable Housing:

“I’m actually looking for a house on the East Side. I do pretty well [financially] and I never imagined I’d be priced out of my neighborhood, a historically Black neighborhood.

“We have a ton of state properties that are filled with asbestos or need to be remediated. The city need to work with the state to get those properties and start developing them.”

Homelessness:

“It’s immoral and a humanitarian crisis when we’re wiping out homeless encampments. We need to address the roots of this problem.”

Mobility:

Sidewalks seem like a trivial issue, but it’s not. It’s related to the ways in which we navigate the city, whether we walk, bike, take public transportation or drive.

Aside from getting apartment complexes from making charging stations available for electric vehicles, we need to move away from automobiles altogether and “We need to create a more bike able and walkable city by creating buy-in with our neighbors.”

Kennedy Plaza is “another issue where there’s not meaningful engagement happening. We do these public forums but we don’t actually take the opinions of people and turn it into plans – We hear what they’re saying and we find ways to combat what they’re saying.”

What is the proper relationship between the Providence City Council and the Rhode Island General Assembly? Should city councillors be lobbying at the State House?

“We need to be holding our legislators accountable. We need to be telling the what our city needs.”

Pension:

What are your thoughts on the pension system? How do we get out of that hole?

“In my time at the State House, no offense, I didn’t see City Councilors there… I think the first step to passing any big proposal through the state legislature is working with your legislators.”

The City Council will look very different in 2023. A majority of new members, new Council President, and anew Mayor. What are your hopes and thoughts on this?

“I think the new City Council is going to be folks who relate to each other, and who come from marginalized backgrounds… A lot of the folks in there right know are being termed out after ten/twenty years. So this is going to be the first time we’re going to have folks who aren’t in there for a decade plus.”

Closing comments from Corey Jones:

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