Jon Scott, independent candidate for mayor, spoke with The Herald following Thursday's mayoral debate.
The Herald: If elected mayor, how would you engage college students in Providence?
Scott: I think students are no different than anybody else. Brown students are different in that they actually register to vote here and they are an important voting block. They got David Segal elected to the city council as the first non-democrat in ages. So I think you ignore Brown students at your own peril. You ignore students in general at your own peril.
One issue many Brown students care about is the environment. Would creating green jobs be a priority for you?
The reality of it is that the workforce development folks tell me that if we create jobs in this state, real green jobs are hard to create. Bicycle repairman is called a green job, but the reality of it is that that is not the kind of job we need to create. So having a green kind of outlook on anything that we do is important, but it's not the end all and be all. Now, within that, I just talked tonight about a 21st-century transit system and I think we have opportunities to be on the cutting edge of design. Design jobs aren't necessarily green jobs, but if they're designing products that the city can then turn around and sell for economic development for our city, then that becomes a green job and that's the important piece to look at.
How do you plan on rooting out corruption in the city?
I don't owe anybody any favors. I'm the true outsider here. I don't have the usual folks or the usual suspects behind me. My opponent is a great guy but he's the handpicked successor to Mayor (David) Cicilline '83. You get rid of corruption by getting rid of folks that are corrupt. I worked with gangbangers for years in the inner city. They didn't particularly scare me. Corruption doesn't scare me either. So I think you deal with it head on, you don't back down from anything, and you go in with a moral compass that tells you that we need to have a clean city, because true opportunity comes out of an even playing field for everybody, and we don't have a better city until we have true opportunity. I don't think we can continue the corruption and rebuild the city. The two just don't go together.
What can the city do to keep college students from leaving Providence once they graduate?
It's about jobs. The problem is that creating jobs means attracting companies. Attracting companies means having a good workforce. Having a good workforce isn't just about a college-educated workforce, but a K-12 educated workforce. If we don't reform that K-12 education system, we don't have a qualified workforce, a support workforce. And if we don't have that support workforce, then we don't attract companies and we don't have jobs. It's this vicious cycle. I need to see if I can let loose some of those creative minds and create entrepreneurial opportunities for students. There are a lot of folks that have graduated from Brown that have created great companies. They might employ four or five people, but I would rather have 1000 companies that employ 5 people than have one company that employs 400.
You mentioned in the debate that you've been falsely accused of being very conservative. How would you describe yourself ideologically?
Scott MacKay from the (Providence) Journal once described be as a fiscal conservative, social moderate with a strong libertarian streak. I like that. I'll go with that.