Democrat Michael Gazdacko is challenging Rep. Anastasia Williams in a primary for the right to represent the District 9 House seat at the State House.
Gazdacko is a member of the City Plan Commission, works for Urban Smart Growth and is the board president of TEDx Providence, according to a news release announcing his candidacy.
“So much of what I do is about bringing people together to exchange ideas and find ways to leverage our shared strengths,” he said in the news release. “I see this as the logical extension of that calling. My campaign will be inclusive of all voices because our public discourse is always more robust with everyone in the room.”
Williams has represented District 9 since 1993. She’s been a center of controversy this legislative session for failing to disclose her job at the John Hope Settlement House, a non-profit for which she also helped secure a $300,000 legislative grant.
Gazdacko’s full press release is below:
Michael Gazdacko, a West End resident and member of the City Plan Commission, today announced his candidacy as a Democrat for State Representative in District 9. “I’m running because I’m passionate about healthy, prosperous, happy communities and I believe that the state legislature is the best opportunity to contribute,” said Gazdacko. “I intend to serve on behalf of everyone in this diverse, vibrant district and to do so with honor, integrity and humility.”
The candidate currently serves as the Director of Development and Operations for Urban Smart Growth, where he oversees the Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket and Greystone Lofts in North Providence. Gazdacko is also the board president for TEDx Providence, a board member of the Pawtucket Foundation and worked with Farm Fresh RI to launch the Wintertime Farmer’s Market. He is the former host/organizer of PechaKucha Providence and has volunteered extensively with Providence Preservation Society. In 2015, he was appointed to the City Plan Commission by Mayor Elorza.
“So much of what I do is about bringing people together to exchange ideas and find ways to leverage our shared strengths,” Gazdacko explained. “I see this as the logical extension of that calling. My campaign will be inclusive of all voices because our public discourse is always more robust with everyone in the room.”
He is a dedicated advocate for local food and sees the state legislature as an opportunity to support policies that make fresh, healthy food sources more accessible in urban communities. He also intends to work on urban transit and development issues, including improvements to public transportation, making the city more bike and pedestrian friendly, and ensuring that zoning and business regulations support neighborhood businesses. “These are issues that affect us all – food, transportation, the economic resilience of our neighborhoods – and they’re areas in which I believe the General Assembly can have a profound and positive impact.”
Gazdacko is a Midwest native who came to Rhode Island in 2007 to steward the conversion of the historic Hope Webbing Company into the thriving, multi-use Hope Artist Village. That development has attracted more than 100 tenants, including Seven Stars Bakery, Farm Fresh RI, New Harvest Coffee and the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame, of which Gazdacko is a founding board member. He has lived in Providence since 2011 and currently resides with his wife on Harrison Street. In 2012, they purchased the vacant lot next door to their home and turned it into an urban farm.
“I don’t undertake this endeavor lightly,” Gazdacko said of his candidacy. “I look at what’s happening in our politics, both locally and nationally, and I find reasons for inspiration. People are getting engaged and making their voices heard. We have so many first-time candidates and first-time voters. Answering the call to public service is one of the most important and solemn responsibilities we have as citizens. I look forward to working every day on behalf of the citizens of District 9.”