Clay Pell and Michael Solomon formally launched their respective gubernatorial and mayoral campaigns over the past two days.
Solomon became the sixth candidate hoping to fill Angel Taveras’ vacant seat as Providence mayor, joining a field of four fellow Democrats and one Republican. Pell is the third candidate seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. The Democratic nominee will compete against either Republican Ken Block or Cranston Mayor Allan Fung to become the 75th governor of the Ocean State.
Solomon, Providence City Council president, announced his decision to run for mayor at the nonprofit Building Futures in Olneyville Wednesday morning.
Solomon promised to “work directly with small business owners to improve the business climate in the City of Providence,” citing his experience as the owner of small businesses Wes’ Rib House and Anthony’s Drug, according to a campaign press release.
When elected president of the Providence City Council in 2011, the city faced a $110 million deficit. But by the end of the 2013 fiscal year, that deficit had become a $1.6 million surplus, according to the press release.
If elected, Solomon said, education and revitalization of the middle class would be among his top priorities. He is competing against fellow Democrats Brett Smiley, Jorge Elorza, Christopher Young and Lorne Adrian, as well as Republican candidate Daniel Harrop.
Pell launched his campaign Tuesday morning from the fifth floor rotunda of the Rhode Island Convention Center, speaking after four guests — including Pell’s grandmother, Nuala Pell, and his wife, Olympian Michelle Kwan — addressed the crowd.
Despite never serving in elected office, Pell cited his record of public service, which includes a position in the United States Coast Guard Reserve, as evidence of his credentials.
“I am determined to restore faith in our state government,” Pell said, noting he will not accept campaign funds from super Political Action Committees or state lobbyists. “My office will be accessible to all, not just the best connected and most powerful,” he added.
“You don’t need to be the loudest voice. You just need to speak for those without a voice at all,” Pell said, recalling the advice of his grandfather, Rhode Island’s longest-serving senator Claiborne Pell.
Pell cited long-term economic development as his top priority, stressing the potential growth possible from proper I-195 redevelopment. He faces Taveras and Rhode Island General Treasurer Gina Raimondo in the Democratic primary, which will be held Sept. 9.