Elorza and a crowd of dignitaries braved the wind and cold to see Jorge Elorza be sworn in as the city’s 38th mayor. Governor-elect Gina Raimondo said she is filled with optimism about the city’s future. Gov. Lincoln Chafee was on hand, as was former mayor Angel Taveras, and the state’s entire congressional delegation.
He started his speech thanking his parents and drawing parallels between his family’s rise as newly arrived immigrants 40 years ago, and they city’s ability to give immigrant families a fresh start. “My family’s story is also Providence’s story. From its founding, Providence has been a city that offers the promise of a new beginning. And generations of families just like my mine have come here in search of that same promise, ready to make the same sacrifices,” said Elorza.
Elorza said he would work to stem the “brain drain” of college students who come for the city’s colleges and universities only to leave for jobs elsewhere. On the city’s struggling public schools, Elorza said he will look into how the schools operate. “Beginning immediately, my administration will audit the organizational structure of the Providence School Department to make sure that crucial resources are not tied up in bureaucracy or central administration but are making their way to the schools and classrooms where they belong,” said Elorza.
He also vowed to make city government more transparent, ethical and easier to work with. “And as we work with a steady hand, let us remember that no city has ever cut its way to greatness. Now more than ever, we must be creative, we must be resourceful, and we must work together to launch our city forward,” said Elorza.
The new mayor said he would strengthen community policing and work to bring down the crime rate. New numbers out of the city show the crime rate dropped in 2014, though murders were up with 20 in 2014, and 14 in 2013.
Like Angel Taveras before him, Elorza never held elective office before winning the election in November. But he has worked as an accountant, a Housing Court judge, and a law school professor.
The challenges facing Elorza include cutting a deficit expected to reach at least $8 million, generating more revenue, and improving city schools. Elorza emphasized a theme of “One Providence” throughout his campaign. Beyond the swearing-in ceremony, the city is staging an inaugural celebration at 7:00pm at the Cranston Street Armory.
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