On the Providence Mayoral Race

I’ve been silent on this since the early part of the primary season, but I thought I’d give my opinions.

  1. I don’t understand the desire to get Dan Harrop out of the race from the Democratic perspective. Harrop and Republican-turned-Independent John Scott both received slightly 6000 votes in 2006 and 2010 respectively – about 17.5% of the vote in Providence’s general elections. I’d hazard that these are voters who will not vote for the Democrat under any circumstances. I’d also guess that the majority are not Republicans. In this case, the WPRI/Journal poll shows Harrop at 5.8%. So assuming that stays true, and the purely anti-Democratic voters have abandoned Harrop for Buddy Cianci, Harrop’s vote total should work out to roughly 2000 voters. If Harrop drops out, there’s no guarantee those voters go to anyone in particular, and so it doesn’t appear to benefit anyone whatever Harrop does.
  2. The other interesting thing from the WPRI/Journal poll is that roughly ¾ of Cianci voters are “very concerned” about crime in Providence. Which doesn’t gel with reality. Providence crime is down precipitously since Cianci’s day – WPRI’s Dan McGowan pointed this out back in July. Thus, we can’t conclude that crime is really a greater issue than it was 12 years ago when Cianci was ousted. Anecdotal evidence also has many Cianci backers concerned with corruption in city government as well. Thus, it seems to me that many Providence voters subscribe to the theory of getting a burglar to house sit for them. Alternatively, it may be that this is the natural result of a shift in demographics. Just as Cianci (and Joseph Paolino and David Cicilline) represented the changing of the guard from to assimilated Italians from assimilated Irish leaders (who themselves overtook the Anglos), Angel Taveras and Jorge Elorza represent the changing of the guard from assimilated Italians to assimilated Latinos. I think for some voters this is deeply unsettling, as the change from Irish to Italian happened within living memory. People may mispronounce/misspell Taveras’ name as “Tavares”  as much due to comfort as due to genuine error.
  3. Mayor Thomas A. Doyle portrait

    Mayor Thomas A. Doyle (Official City Hall portrait)

    Finally, let’s consider a Mayor of Providence who served three non-consecutive terms, was credited with bringing the city to greatness, and was the longest serving mayor in Providence’s history. I’m speaking of Mayor Thomas A. Doyle. Here’s some choice bits about what was said of him when he died in office:

Acting Mayor Robbins:

…his great interest in the welfare and prosperity of the municipality, has made him prominent in the position which has for so many years filled with the highest honor to himself and the people he represented.
Faithful to the trust imposted upon him as Chief Magistrate, zealous in guarding every interest of the city, he reckoned no public duty too onerous, but devoted the best years of his life to unremitting labor for the advancement of its position to the highest rank among the cities of the Union.

Common Council member Stone:

…Who has filled for more than a generation a more conspicuous place in the annals of our beloved city than he?  Who has been a more potent factor in its growth and development?…
…There is not one of us here but has differed from him in the course of his or our official careers and yet who of us ever found in him other than a most valiant defender of that which he believed to be right and for the best interest of the city?  Who was ever more sturdy in the defense of a position which he had taken, and who more gracefully submitted to defeat, unless there was a matter of large principle involved in the questions at issue?…
…I think he knew more persons whom he could call by name and who had a personal history familiar to him than any man in this community…  He filled a large sphere in this city.  He dominated in this hall, and yet he had his disappointments and trials, like the rest of us, and now, as the day has come when his sceptre is laid aside, it devolves upon us, as the representatives of the city he served so long, and so well, to perform the last sad rites which the citizens of this community expect and demand at our hands.

I hope whoever the next mayor is will be capable of having such things said about him.

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