Rhode Island College students have made headlines with a 2022 Mayoral Candidate Forum. On Wednesday March 23, over 120 sets of eyes tuned in to witness three of four Democrats running to succeed Mayor Jorge Elorza outline their views, hopes and goals for Providence.
The forum was live streamed and recorded by Anchor TV. The forum can be rewatched here. This was the first opportunity for voters to hear from these candidates. Term limits are preventing Elorza from trying to retain his position. Elorza was first elected in 2014 – voters will take the first step with electing the new mayor at the Democratic Primary on Sep. 13.
The three candidates speaking on the forum were Gonzalo Cuervo, Nirva LaFortune and Brett Smiley. Michael Solomon was originally also set to appear but could not attend due to the recent death of his father. The forum was moderated by Anchor News Editor and Anchor TV News Manager Raymond Baccari, as well as Political Science Club President Mackenzie Raimond. Throughout the forum, which focused on many keys such as education, city infrastructure and pensions. The candidates showed little disagreement and agreed a mixture of approaches are needed to make Providence the best it can be.
The candidates showed differences when it came down to analyzing why they were the best candidate choice. Cuervo focused on small business and the people of Providence. Smiley focused on his experience with the R.I. Government. LaFortune focused on her experience as a parent, an administrator managing higher education grants and being a City Councilor.
Cuervo said, “As soon as you scratch beneath the surface, you realize that people have a profound love for Providence, and part of that anger [people show] and part of that frustration that they feel is because they understand what an amazing place this is and how much potential we have and how great we can be.” Although this statement was made on behalf of his motive for campaigning, the notion resonates with why this forum came to be. This forum was put together for the sake of encouraging voter participation in the November midterm elections.
News Editor Baccari said, “A lot of RIC students, including myself, come from Providence and it's important to know the vision of the candidates running to be the next Mayor of Rhode Island's capital city. The forum is meant for the RIC community to be able to hear what the vision these candidates have for Providence is as well as promoting civic engagement and education.”
Baccari co-wrote a piece with former Asst. Sports Editor David Blais in September 2021 which gathered many views from the RIC community, R.I. Public officials and RIC President Frank Sánchez. It was from here that Baccari was able to get the ball rolling with Ed Pacheco, The Anchor, Anchor TV, 90.7 WXIN, Student Community Government Inc. and the Political Science Club. Both Baccari and Raimond showed exceptional PR skills when moderating the event and exemplified the attributes of RIC’s institutional pillars: Learning Innovation, Student Success, Inclusive Excellence, Community Partnerships and Institutional Effectiveness.