Former Housing Court judge declares mayoral candidacy

Jorge Elorza, who as a judge has emphasized homelessness and crime, entered the race Monday

Contributing Writer
Monday, November 18, 2013

Jorge Elorza, a former Housing Court judge, formally announced his mayoral candidacy Monday morning in a short speech to about 75 supporters outside his childhood home in Providence’s West End.

Elorza spoke of his experiences growing up in Providence, his career and his focus on creating an environment to spur economic growth.

“I’m running for mayor for one reason,” Elorza said in the opening of his speech — “to make Providence a place where every person can succeed and the middle class will thrive.”

In the race to succeed current Mayor Angel Taveras, Elorza will face State House lobbyist and former Chair of the Providence Water Supply Board Brett Smiley and Lorne Adrain, a managing director at Ballentine Partners and former chairman of the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education.

In arguing about current opportunity for change in Providence, Elorza ended his speech with a quote from the movie “The Princess Bride” : He spoke of a pivotal scene in the film where the two main characters reach a dangerous crossing. In the film, one says to the other, “We’ll never make it,” and the other replies: “Nonsense — you’re only saying that because no one ever has.”

City Council President Michael Solomon and state Rep. John Lombardi, D-Providence, who lost to Taveras in the 2010 race, are expected to run but have not announced their candidacies, the Providence Journal reported.

Elorza was raised by immigrant parents in Providence and participated in Head Start — a pre-kindergarten program for children from low-income families — before attending Harvard, following the same trajectory as Taveras. He returned to Providence after graduation to work as an attorney and then as a judge in the Providence Housing Court, where he worked to prevent vandalism, theft and homelessness in neighborhoods with high rates of abandoned properties.

“Elorza is a phenomenal leader with a great vision,” said John Kelly, Elorza’s campaign finance chair. “I believe that he is the best man to bring the city out of its economic downturn.”