Published 10/29/14

Hassenfeld Institute releases leadership statements from Providence mayoral candidates

Contact: Kate Cantwell, Associate Director, HIPL, 401-232-6193

Smithfield, R.I. — As part of the public service to educate and inform voters during this election cycle, the Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership at Bryant University releases statements from each of the Providence mayoral candidates on their leadership style and experience.

The statements appear in the original form from the campaigns and the candidates will be listed in alphabetical order.

Vincent Cianci

I am the only candidate in this race with a track record of municipal leadership. Throughout my administrations, Providence was an example of how effective leadership can transform a city. Whether the issue was historic preservation, job creation, public safety, or arts and culture; my policies made Providence a model for other cities.

The bully pulpit is essential for any political leader, and I made effective use of it as mayor. As a mayor, your bully pulpit isn’t just public speeches, it’s the interactions you have in your city with members of the community. I made sure to always be visible in our neighborhoods, whether it was at festivals, barbeques, or just going into a coffee shop and talking to constituents.  This let me spread my message one-on-one to the people of Providence, and convince them to take risks like uncovering our rivers and investing in Federal Hill to create a world-class restaurant district.

Throughout the 1990s, Providence was a model city because I understood that in the modern world, cities needed a cultural identity rather than being identified as a manufacturing town devoted to a particular product. That understanding was behind my choices as mayor, and that’s why we had a Providence Renaissance while there was no Worcester Renaissance or Stamford Renaissance.

On historic preservation, I didn’t take yes for an answer when people told me that the path to prosperity was knocking down our historic buildings to put up new buildings. Instead, I understood that our historic heritage was an asset the city could use to market itself to tourists and businesses. That was an unpopular opinion when I first held it, but it was the correct opinion and it paid off for Providence.

As an independent, I’m used to holding the center. As mayor, I worked with Democrats and Republicans from the city council to the state legislature to chart our forward-looking development agenda. That collaboration was essential to our effective budgeting and was why Providence had a surplus when I left office.

I am ready to apply this same successful philosophy of leadership to my next administration. I know Providence’s best days are still ahead, and I’m ready to once again advance a successful economic development, education, and public safety agenda.

On economic development, we can stabilize our taxes and work toward tax reduction, especially on reducing the car tax that falls disproportionally on the residents who are already struggling financially. Stabilizing taxes will send a message to business that they can come to Providence without fear of an unexpected tax hike making it unaffordable to be located in the city.

Public safety is also an essential part of economic development, since businesses won’t come to a city that doesn’t have safe streets. That’s why I have a strategy to bring back community policing, which I started in this city, so that police are integrated into neighborhoods and are being proactive rather than just responding to crime.

On education, I will give schools more autonomy so resources can be used more effectively. I’ll change the culture at Providence schools, and make sure that the teachers and principals who know what’s best for their students have the ability to deliver results.

When I look around the city I love, I see we’ve lost our way. But I also know that Providence’s best days are still ahead of us, because our citizens can measure up to any other city in America. They’ve been let down by twelve years of failed leadership, but I’m ready to bring my proven track record to City Hall and together, we can rebuild our greatness.

Jorge Elorza

To make a positive difference and move Providence forward in a new direction our capital city needs pragmatic, bold and honest leadership. It also needs a Mayor who will work with community stakeholders to fight for working families and ensure that every resident in every neighborhood has a fair shot at success.

I grew up in the West End of Providence as the son of Guatemalan immigrants who worked in the factories. I know firsthand the challenges facing working Rhode Islanders because I saw my parents and entire family experience them during my childhood years. I was educated in the Providence Public School system and through hard work and determination went on to the University of Rhode Island where I graduated top in my accounting class and later Harvard Law School.

Following my education at the University of Rhode Island I took a job in New York City at PricewaterhouseCoopers as an accountant. My time at one of the largest firms in New York taught me how to responsibly and efficiently manage money. As Providence continues to recover from a tough economic climate, I will use my financial expertise to streamline government services, increase efficiency, and cut red tape to save taxpayer money and cut waste. I know that shoring up our financial deficit and putting Providence on sound financial footing will reinvigorate downcity and all our neighborhoods by attracting business and families.

As a lawyer in Providence, I devoted my career to helping low-income residents find affordable housing. Too many neighborhoods in our city have abandoned properties that blight neighborhoods and attract crime. I worked everyday to ensure the most vulnerable among us had the opportunity to live independent, self-sufficient lives to strengthen our neighborhoods. This work led to my appointment to the Providence Housing Court. While serving as a Judge, I researched and created a process to hold the big banks accountable for abandoned properties throughout the city. I issued subpoenas, and when they declined to appear in my court, I held them in contempt and fined them hundreds of thousands of dollars. They were too big to care, but I made them care and when the banks finally did appear in my court, I worked collaboratively with them to find solutions for the blighted properties.

But I know effective leadership requires more than just experience, it requires the right vision. I’ll work in an honest, pragmatic, collaborative, and bold way to find solutions that bring prosperity to every child and every resident in our city. That’s what “One Providence” means to me—bringing all stakeholders together to find creative solutions that benefit everyone. 

 Schools, jobs, and community: these are my priorities because these are the issues Providence residents care the most about. I’m going to focus on strengthening the local economy to create jobs, improving public education, increasing affordable housing, and reducing crime. I’ll bring in talented workers to help achieve this vision and reward city employees based on merit and hard work, not who they know.

Providence needs a leader who will move the city in a new direction. As a former Housing Court Judge, law professor, lawyer, accountant, community activist, and true son of Providence, I will provide honest leadership that creates opportunity for all residents.  

Dr. Daniel Harrop

Over the last 35 years, I have had a varied career with involvement in leadership positions in public and private institutions, both for-profit and charitable.  Following receiving my B.A., M.D., and post-doctoral residency training in psychiatry at Brown University, I also was awarded an M.B.A.  My career has included medical director positions for programs at Butler Hospital, the East Bay Mental Health Center in Barrington, and the Corrigan Center in Fall River.  In these organizations, I supervised increasing numbers of medical employees, and increasingly larger budgets.  Until a few years ago and semi-retirement, I also held faculty positions in the Departments of Psychiatric at both Brown and Harvard.  For over twenty years, I served as the Chief Psychiatric consultant on the Registry of Motor Vehicles Medical Advisory Board, and I continue as a Member of the Medial Advisory Board to the Workers Compensation Court. I was elected President of the RI Psychiatric Society, the RI Group Psychotherapy Society, and the RI Catholic Medical Society, and was appointed to the American Medical Association Committee on Medical Quality.  In the community, I have served politically as currently the Chairman of the RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a 501c3 political educational think tank, and the Roosevelt Society, a 501c4 social welfare organization. Finally, I have extensive experience in community organization at various levels, including as a state officer of the Knights of Columbus, trustee of my church and the Bishop McVinney Foundation, and a Grand Trustee of the Sigma Chi International Fraternity.

The breadth of my organizational experience has been aided by, and has aided, my career as a psychiatrist and educator. The respect I learned for my patients in medical school and from my father, also a physician, has allowed me to move happily among various groups.  It has also given me confidence to speak on issues both medical and political, while know the need to listen to others and their concerns.

 I have come to realize leadership skills are developed and you are not born with them.  I have come to realize you can be a good manager without really being a good leader, since leaders need to have a vision, and a strategy to achieve that vision.  I feel I have done this by holding good cultural and high values, which I have learned through the many organizations in which I have enjoyed membership. I have come to belief being a leader is a careful balance of being a servant, a facilitator, and a coach. In accepting duties, I have always tried to have a good plan, and a strategy to achieve our objectives. I have come to realize that behind every good leader, there is a team that shares the same dreams and goals as the leader

 Besides the care of my patients and the training of future psychiatrists, I consider my greatest leadership role as one where I was part of a team, the Medical Advisory Board of the Workers Compensation Court, which over twenty years helped pull the state out of the insurance crisis of having all companies withdraw from the compensation market.  As part of the reforms enacted by the General Assembly, the Medical Advisory Board, appointed by the Chief Judge of the Court, helped to forge medical protocols that brought costs under control, and ended widespread abuse in the system that had led the private market to withdraw. Best practices were introduced; the best physicians were certified as consultants. The Board continues it work to this day, as a watchdog for the system, updating medical protocols as science advances, and I continue as a member.

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The mission of the Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership at Bryant University (HIPL) is to provide public officials and others involved in the development, management, and execution of public policy with the tools and skills needed to make informed decisions and manage responsive organizations in order to govern and lead public sector and non-profit sectors effectively.