Annette Lopez ’14 recently sat down with the Mayor of Providence, Angel Taveras. Mr. Taveras is currently running as the potential Democratic candidate for the governorship of Rhode Island.
Brown Political Review: You’re currently running for governor, but your term as mayor lasts until next January. Under your leadership so far education has been a priority, and Providence has been presented with the All-America City Award from the National Civic League for a plan to boost third grade reading proficiency. What issues are you planning to focus on in your last year as mayor?
Angel Taveras: I always say that any crime is too much crime, so there’s always more work to reduce crime. While we have the lowest unemployment rate in five years, there are still too many people looking for jobs. I would like to continue to see improvement in education. The job of a mayor is never finished. There’s always more to do and you always have to focus on what’s next. That’s how I’ve worked as mayor, and that’s how I’ll work as governor, too.
BPR: Can you describe your vision for Providence and for Rhode Island?
AT: I envision a city and a state where everyone has the opportunity to succeed, where every school is high-performing and children are learning every day, where people are starting and building businesses and people are working and raising families. I want people to come see what we have done with our state, and how we have turned it around to become a positive example for the rest of the country. Of course, that also means having a very safe community where we can enjoy beautiful Rhode Island without fear.
BPR: Why do you want to be governor?
AT: I love this state. I have been blessed with the opportunity to live my dream of becoming a lawyer, going from Head Start to Harvard through our public schools. The people of Providence gave me the privilege of running this city, and together we have made some tough decisions, but we have improved the city. I want to make sure that children throughout Rhode Island have the same opportunities that I had as the son of a factory worker. As governor, that would be my focus — creating opportunities for others and making sure we get more Rhode Islanders back to work.
BPR: You’re the son of Dominican immigrants. What would it mean to be the state’s first Hispanic governor?
AT: I think it says a lot about how special our country is, that someone who grew up like me can be sitting here, talking to you as mayor of Providence and as Democratic candidate for governor of Rhode Island. The president likes to say: “In no other country is my story possible.” I believe that. For me, it is a wonderful honor to be able to run for governor. It reminds me of the greatness of the American story. I look at it as a continuation of American history, because I’m just following in the footsteps of the Italians, the Irish and other immigrants who came before me. I’m just the last version of that story.