A Voter's Guide to the Special Election in Providence's Ward 3

By Dan McGowan, WPRI.com Reporter

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The race to replace recalled Providence City Councilman Kevin Jackson in Ward 3 is fully underway, with three Democrats, a Republican and an independent candidate all running in a special election this summer.

Democrats Mark Santow, Nirva Rebecca LaFortune and Daniel Chaika will compete in the Democratic primary on July 12, with the winner taking on Republican David Lallier Jr. and independent Chris Reynolds in the general election on Aug. 16.

So where do the candidates stand on the key issues? Eyewitness News asked each of them to respond to 12 questions. (Note: Reynolds did not respond to phone calls, a text message or several emails.)

1. Why should you be elected to the City Council?

Mark Santow
I’ve been on the Providence School Board since early 2015, and I’ve chaired the policy committee for the past year.  In my time there, I’ve become familiar with the ins-and-outs of city government, budgeting, and the long-term needs of the school district.  Thus, I bring direct experience that I can immediately use on the Council.  Also, as a professor of US history and urban studies, I have been teaching, researching and writing about urban policy for two decades.  I am intimately familiar with how American cities work, and with the policies that have shaped them.  My work focuses in particular on the historical origins of racial inequality in our metropolitan areas.  I believe this gives me some insights into many of the deeper issues that cities like Providence face, and possible ways to address them.  As a teacher, I’ve spent the past two decades learning how to listen, to ask good questions, to demand evidence, and to explain complicated issues on paper and in person.  I believe these skills and experiences will enable me to make thoughtful decisions for the city, to bridge differences within Ward 3, and bring resources and ideas to our neighborhood.

Nirva Rebecca LaFortune
I am running for city council because I grew up in Providence and I have experienced many of the challenges the city faces. Ward 3 is a very diverse community, and we need to elect someone who can represent the entire community. In our ward, approximately 52% of the people are women, 31% are people of color, 20% live below the federal poverty line, and about 22% were born in another country. I believe my background and experience make me the best candidate to represent Ward 3. I have a combination of lived and professional experience that can help bring our ward together and represent the entire population.

I also think our ward deserves strong, vocal leadership. I grew up in Providence, and I am active in our community. I show up and I speak up. I think my neighbors want someone who is going to listen to them, advocate for them and respond to them with clear information. We know the city faces challenges, but often my neighbors feel they can’t get answers to even simple questions. I will be a responsive city councilor who will help make city government more accessible and transparent for Ward 3 constituents.

Daniel Chaika

  • My background in the law is extremely helpful for understanding how City government functions and how to solve problems within a legal framework.
  • Having served as Vice Chairman of the Providence Ethics Commission, and delivered several education programs on the subject of ethics, I bring unique experience and perspective regarding ethics in City government.
  • As a practicing attorney for nearly 30 years – whether it’s business law or family law – I’ve become a skilled negotiator who is able to find mutually positive solutions in contentious situations. That’s an extremely valuable skill to bring to the City Council.
  • As a Providence business owner who also represents business clients, I’m sensitive to the issues that face Providence-based businesses, large and small, and want to work to foster an improved economic climate in the City.
  • I’ve been a Ward 3 homeowner for the better part of three decades; my family has generations of history here. I love the people and the neighborhoods, and have a longstanding vested interest here.

David Lallier Jr.
I bring to the table the average person in our city. I currently live check to check, dollar to the dollar just hoping that my checking account won’t overdraft. I know how hard it is to live on under $300 a week. I don’t have normal health insurance because I can’t afford it. I am on Medicaid because of my income. Unlike the other candidates, I don’t have the college education. I don’t have money to even enjoy life like I want to. I know the struggles financially and in education. I grew up in the special education system in Providence. I know how hard it is to learn and understand, even into my adult years and as I run for office I continue to struggle personally and now publicly. I am not proud to be low income and to have a learning disability, but if I am elected into office I can help those families and children who struggle as I do. I bring the perspective of an everyday person who wants a better life and just brakes even.

To read the rest of the questions and their responses click here to view the full article: