Op-eds, Opinions

Holt: Securing the future of Providence — for all of us

By
Op-Ed Contributor
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

My name is Ryan Holt. I live on Halsey Street (right near campus) with my wife, Lilia, our rescue dog Stella and our two rescue cats Silvio and Cleo.

Lil and I were both born and raised right here in Providence. We both attended Classical High School in Providence. We both have successful careers — mine in law and hers in business development — and we share a lifelong passion for public service and civic engagement. 

While I was born and raised in Elmhurst (near Providence College, from which I graduated in 2009), Lil grew up off of Hope Street where she spent her weekends observing the Jewish Shabbat with her grandparents on Elmgrove Avenue, enjoying art classes at RISD and attending Hebrew school at Temple Beth-El. We could not be happier that we chose to make our home on the East Side.

I am running to represent Ward 2 in the City Council because, Providence, the city I grew up in and am privileged enough to call home once again, is at a pivotal point. Undoubtedly, Providence is a city rich in cultural diversity and economic opportunity. Lilia and I believed in the promise of both, which is why we chose to stay in Providence rather than take post-college jobs in Boston, New York or San Francisco. But Providence also has persistent problems: deep-seated parochialism that divides neighborhoods rather than unites them, inconsistent policies that lead to educational inequality and a need-to-know-a-guy development culture that threatens our very community.

Still, my life experiences in this city have taught me never to give up on it or its people. I know what it’s like to be a boy from Elmhurst who bridged socio-economic divides at Classical to make friends with children from across this city — and to be the better for it. During those four years, I also learned how education policy differed by zip code, which is why I am the only candidate with a plan to address education inequality in our city. My recent experiences lobbying on behalf of organizations like the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence to help pass complicated, important and impactful legislation have prepared me to build coalitions and foster compromise. These experiences, right here in Providence, are why I am running to be your voice on the City Council — why I feel I have the policy platform needed to enhance Providence schools, build a dynamic economic climate in the city and ensure that Providence remains an attractive and inclusive destination for all people.

I’m running to fight for the families who wonder whether to send their children to our public schools. We need strong schools to prepare the young people of Providence for the 21st century. Let’s create a culture of accountability and support for our talented teachers and administrators, so that they can work to their fullest potential to ready our children for the competitive world of tomorrow.

I’m running to fight for the people who grew up here and who are attending school here but will soon be forced to leave due to a lack of jobs. We have so many talented people who call and who have called Providence their home. Let’s keep them here. We must create a Providence that attracts, retains and supports businesses rather than discourage them. We can do this together by supporting smart zoning, targeted city investments in growing industries and increased workforce development.

I’m fighting for the families and small business owners who feel disenfranchised by the bureaucratic runaround at City Hall. I’ll be an accessible, accountable and transparent leader who will be there for you — keeping our neighborhoods safe, answering your questions and helping you navigate the hallways of City Hall.

I’m running for families and people who have raised children and grandkids here and want to keep Providence their home. We need to ensure that all of us, no matter what age, have the resources available to live here in dignity. We need to make sure that every member of our community is treated with respect and feels supported by their neighbors, regardless of age, race, religion, identity and cultural beliefs.

I’m running for all of those who are proud of our amazing city and want to take it to the next level. Nothing that is wrong with our city can’t be fixed by what’s right with it. Providence possesses a unique culture, great restaurants, artistic outlets and so much more. Beyond that, the city’s biggest asset is its people. Throughout our city, there is talent, passion and drive. Let’s harness that together — not just as East Siders, but together with our neighbors throughout Providence. If we do that, there is nothing that can stop us from building a stronger, sustainable Providence we all can be proud of.

I need your vote to do this. That’s why I am asking your support today.

Ryan Holt is a Providence native and a candidate for City Council (Ward 2) in today’s Democratic Primary. He can be reached at ryan@holtforcouncil.com.

Other candidates running for Ward 2 seat in the City Council were also contacted by the opinions section but either declined to write an op-ed or did not respond to The Herald’s request. The Herald has not endorsed any candidates in the race.