The Providence city council seat for ward 3 appears to be suddenly in play. Economic development consultant and leadership author Marcus Mitchell is gathering support for a write-in campaign against previously unchallenged incumbent Kevin Jackson. And it looks like Mitchell can win.
Mitchell was the founding president of the Providence Community Library and has been a longtime Mt. Hope activist. This activism gives him significant traction in the all-important precinct 2818 that includes the Camp Street neighborhood. But even more importantly, he is married to Lynette Lopes, the daughter of former city councilor Danny Lopes. The Lopes clan enjoys significant influence on Camp Street and could play a pivotal role in winning votes for Mitchell.
Targeting a longtime foe
Kevin Jackson is not well-liked in much of ward 3 nor on the left in general. He is co-chair of Buddy Cianci’s 2014 mayoral campaign and boasts the ethics record to justify that position. He currently ranks #13 on the Board of Elections’ list of violators with more than $30,000 in unpaid fines for failure to file campaign finance reports.
Most on the left have long assumed that Jackson’s core of support in precinct 2818 would protect him from challenges from the hard-core liberal precincts farther up Hope Street. I live in one of these precincts, and I have actually said the words, “If I thought I could beat Kevin Jackson on Camp Street, I would run against him.”
Precinct 2818 put Gordon Fox over the top against challenger Mark Binder in 2012. Our takeaway was that this is The Machine’s stronghold, and that Jackson could marshall these forces just as Fox had.
We were wrong.
More bad news for Jackson
Marcus Mitchell is an experienced business and civic leader; he knows how to make things happen. And he knows how to decide whether it’s wise even to try to make something happen. Thus, he commissioned a professional poll to assess the situation; the results were a shock.
After 20 years on the city council, Kevin Jackson enjoys stunningly low support in ward 3. Mitchell’s poll asked, in essence “Does Kevin Jackson deserve to be reelected?” Only 16.9% said Jackson should be reelected versus 41.2% for electing someone new. 16.9% is not a large number. Even worse, on the initial question of Jackson vs. Mitchell (before message testing), Mitchell wins by a narrow margin. After message testing—the campaign violations and association with Cianci—it’s all over. Mitchell wins by 60 points. SIXTY!
Given that Jackson’s perceived stronghold on Camp Street will at best split 50/50 and that he is loathed in the other three precincts, Ward 3’s ability accurately to spell M-A-R-C-U-S M-I-T-C-H-E-L-L could decide whether Kevin Jackson is looking for a new job in 2015.
Here’s Mitchell in action after a victory for the Providence Community Library. It’s Game On in ward 3.