By Catherine Rhodes
The Providence Career and Technical Academy, a new vocation high school which opened in September, 2009, was the stage for Mayor David Cicilline’s State of the City Address. The Mayor opened his address at 7pm on Tuesday, February 2, 2010, to a full auditorium of attendees.
Mayor Cicilline stressed a plan in his address which would concentrate on job creation, no new taxes, and assistance to aid struggling Providence residents in the current economic crisis.
The Mayor outlined a $2.4 million stimulus plan geared toward job development. This plan will allow businesses in Providence to hire and train unemployed residents. Also a top priority was a $10 million capital loan program for small businesses. He emphasized the need to encourage and support small businesses.
In his address, Cicilline emphasized that he would not raise taxes. Instead, Cicilline would try to protect the city from state budget cuts and balance the city budget. The Mayor outlined a plan to assist those on fixed incomes with unaffordable city taxes, especially for the elderly. He proposed a freeze on taxes to seniors on fixed incomes and a Working Family Property Tax Credit for owner occupied homes valued at under $250,000.
During this economic crisis, the Mayor acknowledged the need to support families while they struggle to remain in their homes and to keep or look for income. A network of Family Service Centers will be opened with support from both the Rhode Island Foundation, and the Casey Foundation to assist residents in crisis. The centers will be located strategically at four locations within the city. These centers are intended to aid families in getting access to income supports such as food stamps, job training, employment and other needed services.
In ending his address, Mayor Cicilline emphasized that government could not realistically do this alone. He said we must try to “solve problems with unity,” and he ending with a quote from President Kennedy: “We must make a choice to pick ourselves up and move forward.”
On Saturday, February 13, less than two weeks after his speech, Cicilline declared his candidacy for Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District recently vacated by Patrick J. Kennedy. Candidate Cicilline declared, “Washington is really disconnected from the families in America.” He emphasized his learning experiences as Mayor of Providence and his abilities in bringing unity to the people in order to solve problems, something he said national political leaders seem to forgo in favor of “posturing.”
Meanwhile, the Providence Mayoral office has drawn considerable interest. Democratic City Councilman John J. Lombardi and State Representative Steven M. Costantino, a Democrat who chairs the House Finance Committee, have both declared their candidacy for the office—as have many others: the recurrent candidate, Christopher F. Young; State Senator, Myrth York, a three-time Democratic nominee for governor and chairwoman of the city Zoning Board of Review; State Senator Juan M. Pichardo, the first Latino elected to the state Senate; Angel Taveras, an associate judge on the city’s Housing Court; former Providence Mayor and U.S. Ambassador to Malta, Joseph R. Paolino Jr. and Andrew Annaldo, a former Ward 14 councilman, a one-time Democratic mayoral candidate and current city Board of Licenses Chairman. Many prospective candidates have been rumored as seriously considering entering the increasingly crowded field of candidates for the chief executive position of Rhode Island’s capital city.