Brett Smiley, a former high-level official at the city and state level, formally launched his latest run for mayor of Providence on Monday by vowing a “back to basics” approach to city government.

Smiley told a group of more than 130 supporters at the Cambridge Innovation Center that he intends to finish what he started when he first ran for mayor in 2014, in part by “focusing on what matters: simple quality of life issues.”

In 2014, Smiley tossed his support to Jorge Elorza and he joined Elorza’s administration as the city’s first chief operating officer, and he later worked as chief of staff for former Gov. Gina Raimondo and head of the state Department of Administration.

Smiley, 42, said his experience in city and state government makes him qualified to address thorny issues and take on some of the more basic things that frustrate residents.

“Why is it that every year our streets and sidewalks only seem to be worse?” he asked. “It is maddening to see freshly paved roads promptly ripped into by utility companies because of a lack of simple coordination. Why is it that every time it snows it’s as if it’s the first time we’ve ever plowed?”

Smiley is one of four Democrats seeking to succeed Elorza, who is prevented by term limits from seeking reelection. The others are Gonzalo Cuervo, who served as a chief of staff for former Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea: Ward 3 City Councilor Nirva LaFortune; and former City Council President Michael Solomon.

Smiley came to Rhode Island from his native Illinois to manage then-Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty’s unsuccessful challenge to GOP Gov. Don Carcieri in 2006. Fogarty was among a number of current and former city and state officials who attended the campaign event.

Smiley offered an ambitious laundry list of aspirations, including making affordable housing available to every resident in the city.

He said he would raise the focus on basic municipal services by refocusing city government (and avoiding “shiny new initiatives” such as a universal basic income program championed by Elorza); implementing a “culture shift” in which city workers focus more on solutions than specific job descriptions; and developing a comprehensive plan to improve Providence’s economy.

On public safety, Smiley said there is no one single solution for concerns about violent crime, “but the solution starts with making sure that our police force has the tools, the staffing and perhaps most importantly the support that they need to keep us safe.”

One top challenge for Providence is the city’s pension fund, which has less than a quarter of what is needed to meet its long-term obligations. Smiley said he plans to vote in favor of a non-binding June 7 referendum in support of borrowing up to $515 million to shore up the city’s pension fund, although he declined to call for city residents to support the measure.

Smiley is married to Jim DeRentis, a real estate agent. The couple married in Massachusetts before Rhode Island legalized same-sex marriage in 2013.

Smiley has maintained a fundraising edge on his rival Democrats. At the end of 2021, he had about $500,000 in his campaign account, compared with $300,000 for Solomon, about $216,000 for Cuervo, and about $171,000 for LaFortune.

Ian Donnis can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @IanDon. Sign up here for his free weekly RI politics newsletter.