With the New Year rapidly approaching, Providence's mayor-elect Angel Taveras has been busy assembling a ginormous transition team and fending off a small army of job-seekers.
ON THE MOVE Taveras at his new office.
But amid all the hubbub, he made time for a brief Q+A with the Phoenix. The interview follows, edited for length.
THE CICILLINE ADMINISTRATION HAS FACED SOME CRITICISM FOR INADEQUATE INVESTMENT IN THE CITY'S EMERGING DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY SECTOR. WHAT ARE YOU PLANNING ON THAT FRONT? One of the things that we've started to do already is to bring together some of the best and brightest young entrepreneurs in our city and in our state — on our economic development transition team. And that includes a lot of folks who are involved with design and technology. I expect to keep working collaboratively with them to look for more ways to help them flourish within our city. Given our location and the universities we have — from RISD to Brown to Providence College, to all of our universities — we have fertile ground for the growth of design and technology.
AND THE CITY HAS SOME LOAN MONEY THAT IT OFFERS TO LOCAL SMALL BUSINESS, CORRECT? WILL YOU GET MORE OF THAT MONEY TO DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY FIRMS? We do have a small revolving loan fund that we want to start and we have some funds available now from the Providence Economic Development Partnership — we can help with that. I think we can also help by marketing our vacant space in a way that is affordable for young entrepreneurs.
THE LATINO COMMUNITY HAS SOME LOFTY EXPECTATIONS FOR THE FIRST LATINO MAYOR OF PROVIDENCE? CAN YOU POSSIBLY LIVE UP TO THOSE EXPECTATIONS? I don't think anyone has higher expectations than I do for the next mayor of the city of Providence.
IS THERE A MORALE PROBLEM IN THE PROVIDENCE POLICE DEPARTMENT AND IF SO, WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO ABOUT IT? With respect to the police department, I plan on becoming more involved. I'm looking forward to doing ride-alongs with officers and spending more time with the rank-and-file — with all the members of the police department — so that I can better understand what they're going through. And I also will be appointing a public safety commissioner who will be overseeing the police department, the fire, communications, emergency management.
ARE CHARTER SCHOOLS THE ANSWER TO PROVIDENCE'S EDUCATION TROUBLES? I don't know that there's any one answer. I do believe that charter schools are part of the solution. We need to have high-performing schools whether they're charter schools, public schools.
IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE A THEME SONG FOR YOUR ADMINISTRATION, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Can I get back to you on that one?
YOU CAN. And does it have to be English or Spanish?
IT CAN BE EITHER. OK. Wow.
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