Providence Mayor Brett Smiley was officially sworn in on Monday, at 12:01am at his residence, so his ceremony at the Providence Public Library was ceremonial. But it was an event that allowed Mayor Smiley to talk about his ideas, in general terms, for the future of the city which he declared “will be the bestrun city in the United States of America” by the end of his administration.
In brand terms, Mayor Smiley spoke about schools, public safety and city services, but he also touched on housing.
“Together, we will turn around our education system, restore a sense of public safety, and bring high-quality city services to every resident and business in our 20 square miles,” said the mayor.
On education, Mayor Smiley said that he wants the city to be ready for the return of the schools to city control after the state takeover initiated during the Elorza Administration.
“That’s why my first event as mayor will be a community education listening session, happening this Saturday [past, as of press time] at the Juanita Sanchez Education Complex, where we take a closer look at how to build high-quality facilities, create better out-of-school supports, and work toward a successful turnaround of Providence Public Schools,” the mayor said.
On public safety, Mayor Smiley is doubling down on his commitment to community policing, something he spoke about a lot on the campaign trail. “I want every neighbor to know the officers protecting their neighborhoods by name, officers will be visible within the community walking the beat or on their bicycles, and we will stop at nothing to get illegal guns off of the street and prevent violent crimes,” said Mayor Smiley.
The new mayor thanked outgoing Mayor Jorge Elorza for establishing the Behavioral Health Crisis Response program, which Mayor Smiley called “a critical step toward getting residents the right care when they call 911. Let’s build on that. My administration is committed to reducing overdose deaths and supporting those struggling with substance use.”
He also talked about strengthening the youth employment program and recreational programming for youth to offer alternatives to crime. He also vowed to “stop illegal ATVs and motorcycles that make our streets less safe” and to “rehabilitate blighted properties run by absentee landlords that deteriorate the pride residents have in their neighborhoods.”
On city services, which seemed a catchall, Mayor Smiley spoke about everything from licensing to potholes to green infrastructure to the arts to affordable housing.
“I know we can fix potholes and repair our sidewalks the right way, the first time,” said Mayor Smiley. “We can clear snow quickly and efficiently. We can keep our streets clean and welcoming to visitors near and far. We can make meaningful investments in green infrastructure that prepares us for the future.
“I want to make Providence the place to open your business, with City Hall providing excellent customer support and easily-accessible resources. We can start by streamlining services so that it’s convenient to do business in Providence. We can continue to steward the arts, culture and culinary scenes that we all treasure by supporting our local small businesses.”
On housing, Mayor Smiley spoke of “increasing housing units at all price points and across every neighborhood. And by providing wrap-around services in new affordable housing – things like childcare, afterschool programs, and healthcare – more residents will be supported through a housing-first model…
“Every investment in housing helps keep generations of Providence families here, improves economic mobility, and welcomes new residents to fall in love with this incredible city.”
After the inauguration, Mayor Smiley walked from the Providence Public Library to Providence City Hall, side by side with his husband, the city’s first First Gentleman Jim DeRentis, and preceded by horse-mounted police officers, Chinese dragon dancers, the Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England, Big Nazo aliens and the Providence Drum Troupe.