Metro, News

Goncalves ’13 MA ’15 wins Ward 1 Democratic primary

Brown alum, school teacher effectively clinches City Council seat by healthy margin

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Backed by endorsements from several progressive organizations, Goncalves overcame relatively low fundraising to win the Ward 1 Democratic primary. Because no Republicans or independents are registered, he will be the only candidate on the ballot for the April 7 special election, meaning the 25-year resident is virtually guaranteed to be Ward 1’s councilman.

John Goncalves ’13 MA’15 won the Democratic primary in Providence’s Ward 1 special election Tuesday by a wide margin.

Goncalves, a 25-year resident of Ward 1, overcame challenges from Nick Cicchitelli, president of the Fox Point Neighborhood Association, and Anthony Santurri, owner of the Colosseum nightclub. Ward 1 includes College Hill and parts of Fox Point, the Jewelry District, Wayland Square and downtown Providence.

Because no Republicans or independents are running for the seat, Goncalves will be the only candidate on the ballot in the special election on April 7.

According to unofficial results reported by WPRI, Goncalves received 708 votes, while Cicchitelli and Santurri received 286 and 194, respectively. With 1,188 votes total, voter turnout was about 13 percent.

“This campaign from the very beginning had the slogan of ‘community first,’” Goncalves said in his victory speech. “This is the spirit that is needed to do the next step of enacting real change in Providence. I am looking forward to bringing our ‘community first’ campaign to City Hall.”

Despite his large electoral victory, Goncalves was out-fundraised by his competitors. Santurri raised just under $35,000 and loaned himself $20,000, while Cicchitelli raised $17,000 and loaned himself $5,000. Goncalves — the only candidate who did not fund any of his campaign — raised just under $16,000.

Goncalves garnered the endorsements of multiple progressive groups, including Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere, a University student-run group, and Climate Action Rhode Island. Santurri was supported by the Providence police union, the Rhode Island National Organization for Women and several state senators and representatives.

In January, Seth Yurdin vacated the seat Goncalves will now fill. Yurdin, who had served on the council since 2006, said he wanted to focus on his law practice.

Goncalves teaches at The Wheeler School and serves on the City Council’s Special Committee for the Study of a Progressive Tiered Property Tax, which researches property taxation in the city. Along with Santurri, Goncalves is the co-founder of the Providence Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, which is comprised of 19 neighborhood groups around the city that focus on solving issues faced by residents.

In his statement, Goncalves said he would like to work with his opponents in Ward 1. “I consider both my opponents Anthony Santurri and Nick Cicchitelli as community leaders on so many fronts, and I am looking forward to working with them as we work to move Ward 1 forward,” he said.

Goncalves’ platform included fixing Providence Public Schools and taking environmental action. He emphasized his work in opposing the proposed property tax reform in June 2019.

“While talking to voters and supporters of John on the campaign trail, I had the privilege of meeting so many longtime — and often lifelong — Fox Point residents,” said Campaign Manager Jason Roias. “It was refreshing to hear time and time again that John was someone who inspired so many of them through his constant commitment to the community he grew up in. I know Ward 1 is in good hands.”

Cicchitelli and Santurri did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

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