The biggest surprise of the Providence Ward 3 Candidate Forum was the addition of independent candidate Christopher Reynolds, who until this point was relatively unknown in the Ward 3 communities he seeks to serve as city councilor. Democratic candidate Daniel Chaika had to cancel his appearance at the last minute, so Reynolds shared the stage with Republican candidate David Lallier and Democrats Nirva LaFortune and Mark Santow.
The forum was held in the largest meeting room at Rochambeau Library on Hope St, and was quickly filled beyond capacity. Over 150 people attended the early part of the forum, but the room was hot and crowded, and there was no childcare, so slowly the room emptied over the course of the debate, leaving maybe 80 people by the end.
Despite this, candidates fielded good questions, alternating between questions submitted the public and Rhode Island Rights, which sponsored the forum. Randall Rose, representing RI Rights, said that the idea of this forum was to ask questions of the candidates that got at their views on civil and human rights. Cristian Potter read the questions to the candidates from index cards filled out by members of the audience. Each candidate had 90 seconds to answer.
Things heated up when LaFortune took Reynolds to task for using insensitive, racially-charged language.
“I think its important to not continuously say, ‘black, black, black.’” said LaFortune, “It’s very offensive and it’s important for us to recognize that it’s all people who are impacted by several of these issues. And we can’t just constantly name one group… it’s almost like they’re being demonized. So I just wanted to say that, out of respect for all people of color in this room.”
LaFortune was thanked by a woman in the audience and was applauded. You can watch this in video #16 below.
The three Democrats, Mark Santow, Nirva LaFortune and Daniel Chaika, will have a primary election on July 12. The winner of that race will face Republican David Lallier and Independent Christopher Reynolds on August 16.
Up first are the opening statements. Each candidate had two minutes.
In the context of the downtown smoking ban passed by the Providence City Council over the veto of Mayor Jorge Elorza, what would you do to deal with the issues of the visibly poor?
Our sidewalks are in terrible and in some cases even dangerous condition. Do you have a plan to fix the sidewalks?
What will the candidates do to not yield to the great pressure to join the sea of corruption that we see at our city council?
The coalition that passed the Community Safety Act (CSA) used the phrase “People Over Police.” Do you agree with the idea of people over police?
On efforts towards cameras in public places and the police gathering data on those who have not yet committed crimes, how would you promote liberty and/or public safety? Is there a conflict between liberty and public safety sometimes?
How will you ensure that you are responsive to people in all three neighborhoods in Ward 3 and not just your own neighborhood?
What is your view of what the Providence External Review Authority (PERA) should be?
Name one specific policy, that you haven’t mentioned already, that you would try to implement to improve the city.
What should happen with undocumented immigrants in Providence?
What can you tell us about the infrastructure bond, since it passed in November? How would you, as a new member of the city council, use your leadership skills to get those much needed funds put to good use in our ward?
Ward 3 is difficult for bicycle commuters. There are no dedicated bike lanes on either of the dedicated north-south routes (North Main St and Hope St). Would you support reducing on-street parking to make room for bikes?
Here are the closing remarks. Each candidate had three minutes.