We contacted all of the Democratic and Republican candidates who will be on the ballot for the Congressional District 1 Representative position for the September primary, and were interested to learn more about their concerns for Providence. We asked them all this question and their answers follow (in alphabetical order):
“If elected, what are your specific, priority goals for benefitting the City of Providence and its residents? What do you expect to achieve for the city and its residents and how do you plan to go about accomplishing these goals?”
There are two issues that I will lead the fight on at the federal level that will have a direct impact on the people of Providence: bringing resources back to Rhode Island from President Biden’s historic legislative agenda and working to pass federal legislation to put an end to the scourge of gun violence.
Even though I’m a Pawtucket native, I live in Providence currently, and I know that we have a long way to go to improve our roads, bridges, and sewer infrastructure. As the only candidate in the race with recent and relevant experience working in the federal government, with a particular focus on implementing President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act, there is no one more equipped to identify the available federal dollars and bring them back home to Rhode Island’s First Congressional District.
Every time it has rained in the last few months, Providence’s water infrastructure has been completely overwhelmed, causing major traffic disruptions, flooding, and dangerous conditions. In addition to massive storms, we have also seen extreme heat and can expect difficulty in our winter seasons ahead, too.
The Ocean State is going to be particularly vulnerable to the increasingly extreme weather caused by climate change. We need a congressperson who has the knowledge, skills, and readiness to bring back the resources of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to improve our roads, bridges, water infrastructure, and so much more, and the Inflation Reduction Act to invest in coastal resiliency, elements of green infrastructure like solar and electrical vehicle charging stations, increasing urban forestry, and other crucial elements of our nation’s largest investment in fighting climate change.
Secondly, we must protect and ensure the freedom to live without the fear of gun violence. In the White House, as President Biden’s Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, I was often the first call to a mayor following a mass shooting to initiate the federal response to an incident.
Over my time in the Biden White House, I made that first call after too many deadly shootings that have been in the headlines – in places like Uvalde, Buffalo, and Highland Park. After these acts of senseless violence, I not only brought the condolences of the President and the entire Administration, but I also provided the commitment of the federal government to help communities heal – leading efforts to help affected communities access federal support and resources.
I am proud to have been the first candidate in this race to announce real steps – not just rhetoric – that I would take as a member of Congress to prevent gun violence and marshall the resources of the federal government to take long overdue action.
Working together with my Democratic colleagues and those in the Republican Party who are willing to stand up to the NRA and the gun lobby, I will work to do the following: 1. Carry on former Congressman Cicilline’s legacy on this issue, and continue the fight to finally ban assault-style weapons in our country.
2. Support legislation to build on the progress of last year’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the first significant piece of gun safety legislation in over 30 years, to increase funding for research at the CDC for gun violence prevention.
3. Work with Representative Lucy McBath of Georgia who lost her son to gun violence and Representative Brian Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Pennsylvania, to enact red flag laws and common sense universal background checks.
4. Build on federal investments in community violence intervention and support groups like the Nonviolence Institute.
5. Work towards the long-term goal of repealing gun industry immunity.
Providence is a special place, as is every city and town across the First Congressional District and the State of Rhode Island. Providence is the capital city and one of the main financial engines of our state, and I will work to ensure that the city has the continued support that it needs from its congressperson, as former Congressman Cicilline did for so many years.
As someone who grew up in the WestEnd of Providence, I understand the challenges that residents face, especially in terms of small business opportunities and affordable housing. That’s why I am dedicated to resolving these issues and bringing positive change to our neighborhoods.
One of my primary goals is to support small businesses in Providence. I firmly believe that small businesses are the backbone of our community, providing jobs and contributing to the local economy.
• I will work tirelessly to secure funding and resources to help small businesses thrive and grow.
As your next Congresswoman, I believe that the economic development and growth of Rhode Island should be a top priority. In order to achieve this, I intend to focus on providing small businesses with the necessary resources to succeed. By investing in the local economy, we can stimulate growth and increase the standard of living for all Rhode Islanders. Another critical issue that I am determined to address is low income and affordable housing. Everyone deserves a safe and stable place to call home, and it is unacceptable that so many families in the WestEnd and Southside struggle to find affordable housing options. I will work with local organizations and housing authorities to increase the availability of affordable housing units and implement policies that protect tenants’ rights. The affordable housing crisis can be addressed through collaborative efforts between Congress, local governments, housing experts, community organizations, and affected populations. Congress can allocate funds and provide tax incentives to support the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing units. • I want to expand or enhance tax credit programs that encourage private investment in affordable housing projects that can also be effective.
• I want to create programs that provide financial assistance, grants, or low-interest loans to first-time homebuyers, especially in high-cost areas, and offering down payment assistance. This will help individuals and families overcome the barrier of upfront costs.
• Addressing the homeless issue once and for all, by creating supportive housing programs that provide stable housing and services to individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. • I will work to sustain my funding initiatives that quickly transition individuals and families from homelessness to permanent housing.
I believe these can be effective solutions and I ask you today for your vote.
Across our district, I am focused on lowering the cost of living for hardworking families, strengthening our middle class, and combating the imminent threats of climate change. In Providence, specifically, I want to use my expertise in climate change and bring real solutions to the challenges of flooding streets and insuring our hurricane barrier can withstand the erratic weather conditions; expand and amplify the positive work being done in the City already regarding rehabbing and building new housing units to make the city affordable for the people born and raised here. Lastly, I want to infuse the City with the best practices of building green housing and streamline the federal program to make it easier for families transitioning from Section 8 housing to homeowners to provide them with more choices and a predictable process.
I believe it’s imperative to have good relationships with local leaders across Congressional District One. If elected, I will be sure to have regular communication and meetings with Mayor Smiley and the City Council to understand Providence’s priorities and leverage federal dollars to help achieve the goals. We know every municipality in Rhode Island needs strong investments in infrastructure. And we know we need to pay extra attention to projects that help bolster resilience as we face the multifaceted threat of climate chaos. Sea level rise, flash flooding, extreme heat, deep freezes, storms and more threaten our communities while bridges and schools crumble. Investing in sustainable infrastructure will create well-paid jobs (especially by employing union workers), help us transition to a green economy, and increase the quality of life for residents.
When elected to Congress, Congress, I would convene a meeting with the Mayor of the City of Providence. The discussion will focus on the Mayor’s plans for the City and current economic challenges with the goal of identifying projects that align with our shared vision. The redevelopment of the Superman Building, while intriguing, presents significant challenges when considering its conversion into affordable housing or commercial spaces. The astronomical costs associated with retrofitting this iconic structure to meet modern building codes make it somewhat impractical from a financial standpoint. It is my belief a more reasonable approach involves the removal or complete redesign or modification of the Superman Building to embrace the city’s ever-changing diversity. I am very proud that as Chair, the House Municipal Government and Housing Committees, we passed the most comprehensive housing package in state history this year, an effort led by Speaker Shekarchi. The new legislation streamlines administrative processes for cities and towns, reducing bureaucratic hurdles and eliminating unnecessary red tape. Furthermore, it actively encourages the growth of low to moderate-income housing. Further, I am very interested in finding ways to make Commercial property-assessed clean energy (CPACE) financing more available to cities like Providence. The program is structured to allow building owners to borrow money for projects that address climate change including energy efficiency, and renewable energy that allows owners to repay the loans through an assessment of their property tax bill. CPACE also works in partnership with Smart Growth design principles. Congress should be working towards financing smart growth urban design that encourages building communities that are walkable but also have public transportation options for commuters. I am a huge supporter of development that encourages a mix of building types with diverse housing and transportation options – and a proponent of learning from our past with mill villages. Rhode Island’s history includes the creation of mill villages that should serve as a model to address the crisis going forward. These villages were built around factories to accommodate the workforce, providing housing and other essential amenities. The layout is typically centered around communal spaces and walkable neighborhoods, fostering a sense of community and connection. Emphasizing community design in modern housing projects can create environments that promote social interactions and well-being. They also required collaboration between government, employers, and community stakeholders. Similarly, a comprehensive approach to solving the housing crisis can involve partnerships between government agencies, private sector entities, nonprofit organizations, and community members. By learning from Rhode Island’s history and the principles behind the creation of mill villages, we will find a way to address the housing crisis we see nationally. In Congress, I will focus on earmarks to develop property critical to the city. One example is the scrap yard on the water at Allens Ave and the surrounding properties that need to be developed. For too long we have allowed this eyesore to be the ICON of the port of Providence. This land should be developed into areas for waterfront access, shops, commercial space, boardwalks, mixed-income housing, boutique hotels, and marinas. This area would become a mecca for tourist activity, areas where the citizens of the city can come and relax in the public open space that they will affectionately call home.
The function of elected Congressional members is to spend time with the voters in their district and bring resources back to the district. As a Congresswoman, I look forward to spending a good amount of time in all the communities in Congressional District 1 (CD-1) to hear from residents directly. The job is not to make decisions for the residents of CD-1, but to make decisions with their voice. If the residents of the City of Providence agree that economy, social security and cost of living are the priorities, I will work on those issues. Please see the talking points on those issues on my website: https://terriflynnforcongress.com/issues. Based on the data, the priorities in the City of Providence may also include education, homelessness, and public safety. On education, the City of Providence has not caught up to pre-pandemic levels. According to the most recent Providence RICAS scores, less than 10% of students in grades 3-8 are proficient in math, a bump of 3 percentage points from 2021, but still lower than pre-pandemic levels. In English, 13% of Providence students reached proficiency, 4 percentage points lower than in pre-pandemic 2019. Education is mostly a state/local issue. Currently, the federal government funds “gaps” in education where there are what are termed “critical needs,” and where the funding will have a high return on investment. I will work to assist the City of Providence with filling critical need education gaps and enhance students’ education in any way that I can. On poverty, according to five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey, Providence County has the highest poverty rate of any county or county equivalent in Rhode Island. An estimated 13.6% of the local population live below the poverty level, compared to the 11.3% statewide poverty rate. US government spending has caused significant inflation and resulted in the highest interest rates in 22 years. Inflation has weakened the US dollar and its buying power has diminished. As a result, people are struggling. The cost of living goes up when spending goes up and interest rates are high. Policies that bring down the cost of living should be focused on, and include controlled spending of taxpayer dollars, energy independence, and domestic manufacturing. The US has lost its manufacturing dominance due to outsourcing and Rhode Island needs jobs and permanent year-round industries. Re-energizing Rhode Island’s rich history of manufacturing would provide employment opportunities at all levels and to all communities, including the City of Providence. On public safety, the City of Providence’s annual crime report shows an overall decrease in crime trends. According to the data, property crimes have decreased from over 9,000 in 2011, to roughly 5,000 in 2021. However, homicides are up 175% so far this year. At the same time, police departments across Rhode Island are struggling to recruit new officers, and Providence PD will accept officer transfers for first time. To mitigate this, I will work to bring resources to the City of Providence to ensure it has enough funding to improving public safety going forward. I am looking to use data-driven methods and bi-partisan solutions to solve these critical problems. I will share my skillset and governing experience to get the job done. I served on Middletown Town Council 2018-2022. I ran for town council as an outsider, a fresh voice, and was elected in 2018 with the second-highest vote count and had the highest vote count in my 2020 re-election. During my 4 years on town council, I served on 9 different committees. Just prior to being elected to town council, I served on the Middletown Planning Board (2017- 2018). So, I know a thing or two about municipal budgets, Comprehensive Plans, Zoning Codes and RIGL’s (Rhode Island General Laws). My campaigns were grassroots then and they are grassroots now; it took a lot of volunteers to get 500 signatures to get my name on the ballot for Congress. Little known fact: Middletown Town Council is a non-partisan council, so a council candidate’s party is not identified on the ballot. I am a “citizen candidate.” I am more like an average Rhode Island voter than a stereotypic political candidate. I am not an attorney. I am not a CEO. I do not have hundreds of thousands of dollars. Because my experience is non-partisan, I am not beholden to party recommendations, or other elected officials. I will bring that approach to Congress and make data-driven decisions to vote for what is best for Rhode Island, and in the way the constituents of CD-1 and the City of Providence have indicated they want me to. It is noteworthy that none of the candidates running for Congress have been in Congress before. Any candidate will be a “Freshman Congressman.” What the voters in the City of Providence need to know is that I have elected official experience and a practiced work ethic. Middletown-ers who were paying attention to town affairs know that I participate-I don’t just sit in the seat with the title. I listen to the public and research the issues for decisions that are transparent to the public, have a win-win focus for all stakeholders, and are sustainable with long term benefit: 5 years, 25 years, 50 years. The volunteers who helped get my name on the ballot share those values and would like me to bring those same approaches and passions to the federal level to help Rhode Island and the people of CD-1, especially those who are struggling.
As the son of an immigrant single mother, I understand better than anyone else in this field the struggles of working families in Rhode Island. We need a fighter in DC who won’t just pay lip service to tackling the cost of living crisis, but actually get things done. In Congress, I’ll work to bring investment back to Providence and Rhode Island through infrastructure and green energy initiatives, expanded housing tax credits, and lowered healthcare costs. Freeing up federal money to build much needed new housing in Providence will create good paying jobs and lower rents. I also will fight to restore President Biden’s child tax credit that halved childhood poverty and put more money back in the pockets of working Americans. As a teacher, I am especially concerned with providing for the next generation’s future. I’ll fight for additional funding for our schools and expanded gun control laws that keep our kids safe.
Providence has been my home for nearly thirty years and I spent a decade serving on the City Council before becoming Lieutenant Governor. In that time I have helped revitalize the Olneyville neighborhood and ushered in improvements to our infrastructure, transportation and local economy. I will bring this same dedication and values with me to Congress. I will advocate for funding to build more housing at all income levels and fight to improve our public transportation infrastructure. I will also fight for access to reproductive healthcare and for commonsense gun-safety laws, including a federal assault weapons ban.
I will fight to bring federal dollars to Rhode Island to support investments in its people. For Providence, this means funding to build new schools, green jobs, roads and bridges that are bike and pedestrian friendly, and coastal protections to prevent catastrophic flooding. Coastal protections are especially important to me. I live in South Providence, less than a mile from the Port of Providence. One severe hurricane could wipe out port infrastructure and industry, washing South Providence with toxic chemicals. The consequences of this would devastate the City. 70 years ago, Congress recognized the hazard flooding from hurricanes and extreme weather events posed to coastal cities and authorized the Army Corp of Engineers to build hurricane barriers, starting with the one in Providence’s Fox Point. In Congress, I will advocate for infrastructure to protect our shoreline, this time considering Field’s Point as a possible barrier site. My goal in Congress is to pass legislation that makes life easier for working families. First up: raising the federal minimum wage to $17 per hour. Second up: fully funding Section 8 housing vouchers, so everyone who qualifies for a voucher gets one: no more waiting on a list for years while living on the streets. These are the things I know the federal government can accomplish. The combination of increased wages and affordable housing will make a world of difference to our poorest families who live paycheck to paycheck, or on social security and disability benefits. I also think the federal government needs to finally accept responsibility for the failure of the War on Drugs and its disastrous effects on urban communities, especially poor working class people of color. There is no way to address police brutality without addressing the underlying activities that Congress– both Republicans and Democrats– have criminalized. We have criminalized substance use disorder, homelessness, and severe mental illness which has resulted in police violence, community distrust in public safety and public health institutions, and the overdose crisis. More Providence residents will die this year from an overdose than all the car accidents, gun related deaths, homicides, suicides and fires– combined. Somehow, no other candidates are talking about this. The federal government has a major role to play by decriminalizing possession of all substances and investing in more treatment and recovery resources for addiction and mental health challenges. State and local authorities will follow the lead of our federal representatives.
J. Aaron Regunberg
I’ve lived here in Providence for the last 15 years. I’ve organized with Providence communities, helped Providence youth win changes in our public schools, and represented our city in the General Assembly. In Congress, supporting Providence will always be a top priority for me. If elected, I would be ruthlessly persistent in securing federal dollars for Providence — I’d fight for funding from recently enacted programs to make our schools more energy efficient, upgrade classroom air quality, and transition to electric school buses. I’ll make sure we get as many dollars as possible from the Inflation Reduction Act for pollution reduction and decarbonization in our neighborhoods. I’ll fight to pass the federal policies — like the Environmental Justice for All Act — that Providence’s many environmental justice communities need to ensure our children have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and clean green spaces to discover and explore. Finally, I’ll work to tackle our housing crisis, which is particularly acute for so many Providence residents. Every person has a right to the safety and dignity of a home. New Deal Democrats used to understand this when they launched public housing programs in the 1930s that lifted millions out of poverty. We need that same kind of direct federal spending to build public, low-income, and mixed-income housing throughout our city. As a first step, I will staunchly advocate for the passage of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, which would increase the national Housing Fund by $445 billion.
As a 2023 candidate for Congress in RI CD1, I am from the West End Neighborhood of Providence living in my family home that my parents (RIP) bought in 1960. One of my greatest concerns for the residents of my capital city is the lack of low-income and affordable housing. I believe that one of the solutions to our housing crisis is through the development of Cooperative (Co-Op) Housing ownership of which I have been a strong advocate for several years. With Co-Op Housing, which can be a wide range of types, like traditional apartment buildings, the most typical, to even tenement style homes, the tenants do not own their apartment units, they own shares of the corporation that owns the building, and tenant owners sit of the board of directors to oversee its mission. With Co-Ops, the operative word is ‘ownership,’ because unlike the thousands of Providence housing renters whose monthly rent and lease payments only enrich their private and public landlords, creditworthy Co-Op tenant owners build financial equity (wealth) as they pay off their mortgages obtained to buy their corporate shares of their building(s). As Congressman for RI CD1, my legislative priorities rank the development of cooperative housing in Rhode Island highly, and I will seek the federal funding necessary to help promote and grow Co-Op housing corporations in Providence. This includes tenant assistance to secure the mortgage financing to buy in, because Co-Op Housing provides Providence tenants “skin in the game” in terms of home ownership.
Special Elections Information
Providence residents have two upcoming special elections this fall, one to determine who will represent the state in the US House of Representatives and one to determine who will represent Senate District 1 in the Rhode Island General Assembly.
- Special elections are called when an office is empty. Congressional District 1 became vacant when Representative David Cicilline resigned in June 2023. District 1’s state Senate seat was vacated by the death of Senator Maryellen Goodwin in April 2023.
- The primary election is September 5. This election determines which one Democratic and one Republican candidate will face each other in the general election on November 7.
- Special elections often have a poor turnout. A vote in this primary is important because RI sends only 4 people to Congress and this election selects one of them.
- If you are not registered to vote now, you may not vote in the primary. If you register before October 8, you may vote November 7.
- Only voters in Congressional District 1 and in State Senate District 1 can vote in September and November. These districts have been changed recently.
- RI State Senate District 1 map
- RI Congressional District 1 map
- To check your district, your eligibility, to register, or see a sample ballot, click here