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Features

Chris Young: the man, the mayor?

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, February 1, 2010

Narragansett’s Chris Young will compete for the third time this November against Providence Mayor David Cicilline ’83 in the Democratic primary for a spot on the mayoral ticket.

Young has thrown his hat into the ring for his party’s nomination for several state, federal and municipal offices over the past decade with no success. In the 2006 Democratic primary for mayor, he garnered 26% of the vote.

Young may not be a familiar character to many Brown students, but he crossed onto the administration’s radar this December when the University banned him from campus after his arrest at November’s health care forum in Andrews Hall.

On the issues

To Young, the biggest issue the country faces is abortion.

“Abortion is tied to all the economic problems that are occurring in this country,” Young said. “It’s creating an issue that divides our country.”

As Young said to the audience at November’s health care forum before his arrest, he opposes abortion because of his Catholic beliefs.

Young said he also believes abortion is a form of eugenics, through which pro-choice advocates are encouraging the racial cleansing of blacks. A disproportionately large number of abortions involve low-income, black women, he said.

“This is the new civil rights issue of this country,” Young said of his theory of racial cleansing. “You’re on the ground floor of an issue that will be exposed. It will be exposed.”

Hitting closer to campus, Young also believes many of his stances will appeal to Brown students. Young said he opposes legislation proposed by Cicilline to tax students, and instead seeks to find a way to tax universities without burdening their students.

“These university presidents make hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries. Why should the students have to pay? (Universities) should just not pay their staff as much,” he said.

Taking money from universities to give to municipalities would “decrease the power that these little ‘quasi-governments’ are taking away from the public interest,” he said. He said he advocates taxing universities’ properties as well as their trusts and also wishes to remove their abilities to arm their police forces.

And for all of his politicking, Young said he takes no campaign contributions.

“The way you empower the populace into government is to show them that they can run without spending money,” Young said. “And the way you reform the process is by getting large numbers of people to run for political office.”

A troubled childhood
At age six, Young lost his father to asbestos poisoning, a consequence of the sailor’s service in the Merchant Marine during World War II, according to Young. But Merchant Marine members were not eligible for veterans’ benefits at the time, he said, and the family made due on Social Security payments.

“My mother was unable to get veterans’ benefits raising four children in South Providence in a very poor, urban neighborhood,” Young said.  “She could never get the veterans’ benefits, and she died when I was ten years old in 1980, right before the Merchant Marine was acknowledged as a military force and was granted veterans’ benefits.” A 1988 federal court decision gave Merchant Marines that served in World War II access to benefits.

He remained in South Providence with his uncle, Joseph Young, who was a dean at Harvard and administrator in the U.S. Department of Education. Young said that while working for the Assistant Secretary of Education, his uncle “helped build the colleges in this country.”

Young attended Saint Michael’s and later Bishop McVinney schools before being accepted to Classical High School.

“I’ve lived literally on probably 30 different streets in the city of Providence,” Young said, noting that he has lived in far more neighborhoods than current mayor Cicilline has. “He’s only lived, I think, on two addresses in Providence, and I have lived all over the city.”

A man of his principles
Young refused to meet The Herald on Thayer Street for fear, he said, of infringing upon his notice not to trespass on Brown’s campus, stemming from his November arrest. He refused to meet at the Providence Place Mall or a downtown Starbucks because, he said, he didn’t know what sort of relationship the University might have with such nearby locations. The Providence mayoral candidate said the University’s restriction, which he considers a repression of free speech, has even made him afraid to enter the city of Providence.

When he arrived at the interview near the carousel in the Warwick Mall food court, he brought with him two of his most important political weapons: anti-abortion videos and video footage of his arrest by Brown police.

Young introduced Kara Russo first as his campaign manager, then added that she was his girlfriend as well.

They have been together ever since they met 18 years ago in Boston’s subway, he said, leaning over the food court table with a nostalgic smile. Russo shares many of Young’s views, especially his conservative Catholic stance on abortion.

“Kara and I have made it public that we don’t live in sin, that we don’t have sexual relationships,” Young said. “Also, we’re going to get married when I become mayor of Providence. There’ll be a ceremony in Providence — a nice wedding in downtown Providence — when we get elected. We’ve made that very public.”

Young graduated from Boston University with an electrical engineering degree, and went on to research superconductors and electromagnets at Northeastern and Boston universities.

“And then I got involved in civil rights issues,” Young said. “I saw what was coming down the line — the expansion of private police powers, university powers — and when you become aware of what really is going on, you have to stand against it.”

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