Exclusive: Alumnus Justin Roias talks about his campaign for Providence City Council Ward 4
Justin Roias is running for Providence City Council Ward 4. The incumbent, Councilman Nick Narducci is term-limited, opening the seat up for 2022. Ward 4 contains the Charles and Wanskuck neighborhood – the north side of the city. So far Roias is the only candidate who has filed to run for this seat. Roias did his first interview of the election cycle on Ray-ality TV.
“I’m running because the North End needs a champion. The North End needs someone who’s going to be responsive to the quality of life issues that folks are directly impacted by. And I also think the North End needs a policy wonk who’s going to dig into the details of policy [and] who’s going to stop ordinances that are harmful to working class people. My neighbors want three things. They want a safe, connected and clean neighborhood. And that’s what I hope to fight for when I’m elected,” said Roias.
Roias has a plethora of ideas he hopes to make a reality if elected. He wants to establish a Neighborhood Volunteer Snow Removal Assistance Initiative. This would be similar to the city of Pawtucket’s Youth-to-Senior Snow Shoveling Program.
Another priority of his would be to create a neighborhood discount program to help small businesses in the Ward.
“What I want to do is make sure our small businesses are supported. Across the Charles Corridor we’re lined up with awesome businesses. Some have struggled to stay afloat. In the middle of a pandemic that’s not uncommon in this landscape,” says Roias.
“I want to bring the small businesses together, engage them [and] ask them what they need. And I feel like incentivizing our neighbors to shop in our neighborhood is one way to do that. And I think with the small business community’s buy-in – I think we could come up with a North End discount program that’s going to spur economic output.”
An issue on the minds of both the voters and candidates in Providence is charter schools. The role these schools should have is a hot-button issue. Roias believes there can be a healthy balance in the middle to have charters and sufficiently fund public schools
He said, “I think there’s a role for charter schools. I’m not anti-charter. I just don’t want charters to exist at the expense of traditional public schools. We need to adequately fund our public schools in Providence. If we’re going to expand charter schools in the city of Providence – we need to fully fund the traditional public schools that currently exist.”
Reducing the city’s carbon footprint is both a new and key issue Council candidates are prioritizing. Roias supports implementing a city-level Green New Deal similar to Boston’s.
The one committee Roias wants to sit on if elected is Finance. If elected, one of his first votes would be for selecting the new City Council President. He has a couple of current City Councilors in mind, but isn’t going to name them yet.
A new Mayor in January 2023 is guaranteed too. Roias hasn’t endorsed any of the candidates yet. In a follow up Roias said “Possibly” when asked if his endorsement would come before September’s primary.
There are three things guaranteed in life: death, taxes and RIC Alumni running for or being in elected office. Roias is not only a RIC Alumnus, but a first-generation college graduate. He graduated with a Master’s of Social Work.
“My time at RIC, both when I got my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and my Master’s degree, was just such a great experience. What I really love about RIC is that when we talk about first-generation college students – [the college] produces so many first-generation college graduates. And it’s something to be proud of. It’s something to hang our hats on as [alumni]. We are a working class, blue collar institution. And I think we should never shift away from that. I am a huge fan of RIC, I will never say a negative thing about Rhode Island College. I’m very very proud to have graduated from RIC,” said Roias.