Brown Democrats: Raimondo for governor, Elorza for mayor

Guest Columnists
Thursday, October 30, 2014

In recent weeks, Rhode Island has made national headlines with a series of appearances by the biggest names in the Democratic Party, including President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. One by one, the best-known figures in Democratic politics have dropped by the deep-blue Ocean State to throw their support behind a historic — and historically strong — ticket of Democratic candidates.

We, the Brown Democrats, are proud to have spent this election season working in tandem with these national figures to elect Gina Raimondo, the Democratic candidate for governor, and Jorge Elorza, the Democratic candidate for mayor of Providence. We support these candidates and believe they have the visions and policies that will most benefit our city and state.

Raimondo is a Rhode Island native, a Rhodes Scholar and a Yale Law School graduate who founded Rhode Island’s first venture capital firm and currently serves as the state’s general treasurer. The only gubernatorial candidate to have served in statewide elected office, she dealt decisively and efficiently with one of the greatest challenges in recent Rhode Island history. When she took office, the state was hurtling toward financial crisis due to its overburdened pension system. Knowing that she was taking a huge political risk, Raimondo rose to the occasion and worked to reform the system, greatly improving the solvency of pension funds.

If elected, Raimondo — who would be Rhode Island’s first female governor — promises to improve our state’s economy by investing in manufacturing, workforce development and infrastructure. Today, Rhode Island has the third-highest unemployment rate and one of the worst business climates in the nation. If anyone is equipped to make the hard choices necessary to turn our economy around while respecting Rhode Island’s rich history and unique assets and ensuring that everyone has a chance to be a part of the recovery, it’s Gina.

The son of Guatemalan immigrants, Elorza was born and raised in Providence’s West End. Though he nearly didn’t graduate high school, Jorge worked his way through the Community College of Rhode Island and then the University of Rhode Island, where he graduated first in his class with a degree in accounting. After a short stint on Wall Street, he learned that his best friend had been murdered, prompting him to change tracks, enrolling at Harvard Law School and returning to Providence to provide legal services to low-income and marginalized communities. Since then, Elorza has served as a Providence Housing Court judge and a professor at Roger Williams University School of Law.

Elorza’s story exemplifies both the American dream and fundamental Democratic principles — if you work hard and play by the rules, you should have a chance to succeed. His platform is shaped by his experiences, and if elected mayor, Elorza will work to create and expand the kinds of opportunities he has been privileged to have. His plan for economic revitalization centers on Providence’s woefully underused deepwater port, one of only two in New England. By embracing Providence’s history as a working waterfront city, Elorza proposes to create 1,500 well-paid jobs.

He plans to promote a full-service school model, turning schools into neighborhood hubs that offer English classes for immigrant parents and resources for all community members. Elorza hopes to implement his ambitious agenda with an eye on transparency, accountability and public engagement, emphasizing the importance of a City Hall that works for everyone.

Unfortunately, not all candidates in the Providence mayoral race can say the same about their commitment to ethics. Much of the national media attention that Providence has garnered since this summer has focused on Elorza’s closest competitor in the race, infamous former mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci.

Cianci, a two-time felon with a laundry list of unsavory qualities, including a self-professed penchant for using municipal power for personal gain, poses a serious threat to Providence’s chances of recovery and prosperity, or of even being taken seriously. The Economist best demonstrated the effect that a Cianci victory would have on municipal morale when it profiled the race in an article titled, “Freshening New England’s armpit: the ex-mayor who inspired a gangster musical returns.”

Whereas Elorza made his name in the Housing Court by holding big banks accountable to the city for foreclosed properties, the prospect of a third Cianci administration and the accompanying culture of crime and corruption could be enough to scare off potential investors. This is unsurprising, given how Cianci’s previous terms ended: The former mayor resigned once after being charged with assaulting his wife’s alleged lover with a log and a cigarette, and again in 2002, after being charged with federal racketeering conspiracy and sentenced to five years in federal prison. This is to say nothing of the charges of rape against him in law school or mail-in ballot fraud in the 1983 election. Most recently, true to the warnings of a bipartisan coalition of three former U.S. attorneys urging voters to think twice before supporting Cianci, the Providence Journal reported Monday that the state is investigating two cases of alleged ballot fraud by off-duty police officers working for the Cianci campaign.

The Journal’s endorsement of Elorza said it best when it wrote, “Cianci had his time. Cianci did his time. Now it is time to move forward with a new generation.” Elorza offers our city a fresh start and an innovative, equitable path forward. As residents of Providence, we cannot afford to sit this election out and acquiesce to Cianci, a man who often joked that “if the people of Providence could read, (he’d) never get elected.”

This election is a crucial one: We have the chance to elect the state’s first female governor and to usher in a new age for the city we love. In the words of President Obama, this is our opportunity to elect “proven champion(s) who can put politics aside and get results.”

On Nov. 4, vote Gina Raimondo for governor and Jorge Elorza for mayor.



Meghan Holloway ’16, the president of the Brown Democrats, can be contacted at

  • terrible

    “Knowing that she was taking a huge political risk, Raimondo rose to the occasion and worked to reform the system, greatly improving the solvency of pension funds.”

    You know this means slashing workers’ pensions to pay for Wall Street’s criminal activity while paying massive fees to hedge funds, yes? You know this. You know this and you don’t care b/c you are rich Ivy Dems who will forgive anything from Team D. Sickening.

    • Roland G

      Terrible, but not surprising.

  • pvd citizen rape awareness

    do brown students know that buddy drugged and raped a woman at gunpoint when he was a student at marquette? BDH! please share this story as quickly as possible!!! it is already going viral among young providence voters but we haven’t seen much mention of it in college social media or press. it’s an insult to woman and all providence voters as this is buddy’s first campaign in the social media era, the truth needs to get out!