In Their Own Words: We spoke to Providence mayoral candidates about their plans for the city

chimp.lgWe asked the following questions of candidates running for Providence mayor in the upcoming November elections. This is part one of a two-part series; part two will ask the same questions of candidates in the gubernatorial and senate races. Respondents in the Providence mayoral race were Jorge Elorza (D), Dianne Witman (I) and Jeffrey Lemire (I). Any editing was strictly for clarity or spelling.
Providence Mayoral Race
What’s the biggest issue facing the state/city?
Jorge Elorza(D): I believe one of the keys issues facing our city right now is economy and wage growth, I am very glad to see the minimum wage increasing, but we must do more. I have been committed to investing in development along with workforce training throughout my last four years in office. I hope to have four more years to continue to invest in workforce training, summer jobs for our youth and development projects throughout the city. I believe these areas are fundamental to the success of Providence.
Jeffrey Lemire (I): Political corruption, back-room deals, elected officials resenting third parties. Who does the candidate represent:  Russia, a political party or a group of investors? In Providence, who are the three mayoral candidates representing?
Dianne Witman (I): Our city’s biggest struggle is the deterioration of our city infrastructure and services.  Our schools are molding and crumbling, impacting every student’s ability to learn.  Their teachers are asking for repairs and instead they have to work without a contract.  Our roads and sidewalks are in bad shape.  How do we expect disabled residents to get to work or to the store if the sidewalks aren’t wheelchair accessible? These issues aren’t being addressed because our city services are lacking. Residents shouldn’t have to use a poorly managed 311 application to get a pothole filled – that is the city’s job.
How do you feel about supreme court decision that effectively makes every state right to work (Janus v. AFSCME)?
Jorge Elorza(D): I stand with Democrats against this terrible decision.
Jeffrey Lemire (I): No one should be made to join any labor organization, political group or formed religion. For me, if you believe in something and you would like to take part, that is your choice. You should never have to join the Communist party.
Dianne Witman (I): Our city was built by unions. I appreciate our local unions, their work, and I support their right for collective bargaining. However, our city has to work within the confines of the recent supreme court ruling and uphold the law as written.
Is environmental racism in PVD a problem and if so, how do you intend to address it?
Jorge Elorza(D): I believe that equity should be a factor in every decision that is made. My administration is committed to working against environmental racism and has been since day one. The city now has an Environmental Justice Task Force and we do not support LNG. Whether it is an environmental decision, educational decision or any other decision made about the city of Providence, I am committed to ensuring equity for all of our residents.
Jeffrey Lemire (I): Enforce labor laws to the fullest extent of the law. Everyone likes immigrants until they ask for the same rights as Americans. Safe work environment, fair wages, respect. We as a country have invented a new form of slavery.

Dianne Witman (I): It is not acceptable that certain neighborhoods in our city are disproportionately affected by pollution and urban blight.  I plan to create a safe, clean city for all residents regardless of neighborhood.

How should the Providence teacher contract issue be resolved?
Jeffrey Lemire (I): Teachers in Providence have a job. They deserve above fair pay and more input in how the school department is run. And guarantees that their pension is there when they retire.
Dianne Witman (I): We need leaders who lead in Providence. We need a leader who will bring the teachers to the table and draft a contract to which all parties can agree. This situation affects our children, and we need a long-term solution for retaining our teachers and offering fair contracts. I promise to work closely with the teachers to ensure we are investing in education the right way, and that our teachers feel appreciated.
Do you favor sending troops to Worcester to recover the PawSox?
Jeffrey Lemire (I): No, we should send the FBI to the state house to find the real truth behind why they left.

Dianne Witman (I): As disappointed as I am to see the PawSox leave for Worcester, the deal is done and now our state and city leaders need to work together to create something that facilitates economic development and encourages more visitors to the capital city region.

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