With Providence Ward 3 City Councilor Kevin Jackson removed from office in a lopsided recall election, five candidates, three Democrats, one Republican and an Independent have qualified to have their names on the ballot. 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.
Four of the five candidates (Christopher Reynolds was a no-show) met at Martin Luther King Jr Elementary School last night for what organizers called an “Un-Debate.” The first of two events organized by the Mt Hope Neighborhood Association, the Summit Neighborhood Association and the Observatory Neighborhood Association, the un-debate allowed each candidate a few minutes to introduce themselves but for the majority of the event the candidates were required to listen to the concerns of residents.
A second event, scheduled for June 27, also at Martin Luther King Jr Elementary School, will be more traditional, with candidates directly answering questions.
There is also a candidate event scheduled for 6:30pm at Rochambeau Library on July 6.
At the un-debate audience members asked questions and aired concerns for the candidates to hear. The candidates took notes. These questions will be collated and made available on the web, and written answers from candidates will be published before the next debate.
First up, the opening statements of the candidates. Here’s Daniel Chaika:
The bulk of the un-debate consisted of question, comments and concerns from audience members. Deep divisions of race and class among the Ward 3 neighborhoods were noted. It was obvious that Ward 3 is more a collection of neighborhoods than a unified Ward. The Mt Hope neighborhood is dealing with issues of gun violence that those living in Summit seem only tangentially aware of.
As one woman noted, “we don’t want to talk about” race.
City cuts to programs for youth and the elderly could probably be easily rectified with small donations from those living in the mini-mansions along Blackstone Blvd, but the residents there seem untouched by the situation of those living a two minute drive away.
To view other speakers you can use the pull down tab at the top left of the embedded video.
When it was over, all the candidates seemed surprised by the issues brought up by their would-be constituents.In their closing statements, the candidates addressed their new found sense of the complexity of the job they were hoping to take on.
Here’s Mark Santow: