Providence Journal endorses Jorge Elorza for Mayor

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Many undecided voters sense that a twice-convicted felon would be a disaster as Providence mayor, but they wonder about the less-known Democratic nominee: Is Jorge Elorza up to the task?

We can share our impressions, having come to know this son of working immigrants. He is more than just an honest alternative to a corrupt politician who would ruin the city’s economic prospects. Mr. Elorza, 37, could be one of Providence’s greatest mayors.

He is brimming with detailed plans to move the city forward in the key areas of jobs, public safety, education and municipal services. He is tough and pragmatic, having worked his way up from poverty. He understands the struggles of people in Providence, who have been burdened with high taxes (including on cars) and cash-strapped services — directly as a result of former Mayor Vincent Cianci’s catastrophic failure of leadership on pensions.

A law professor educated at Harvard University, Mr. Elorza is bright, fair-minded and energetic, rather than tired and mean-spirited. He loves Providence and will work to make it better, rather than just talk a good game and take credit for the achievements of others. He is not running to seek vengeance against his critics and abuse power to benefit himself. He opposes any tax hikes, while Cianci wrote: “The first thing a new mayor should do when he takes office is raise taxes.”

Mr. Elorza recognizes the tremendous potential of the Port of Providence as a source of high-paying blue-collar jobs and an engine of growth. (Cianci wants to waste it as a playground for developers, shady investors and campaign contributors.) Mr. Elorza is willing to take on the education establishment to make sure that Providence’s children — including minorities — have a real shot at the American Dream. Rather than run a pay-to-play Police Department as Cianci did, leading to high rates of violent crime and disrespect for police in the community, he proposes to run an ethical and professional outfit, with incentives to officers to live in Providence. (Their mere presence 24/7 will deter crime.)

You can read in exhaustive detail about Mr. Elorza’s practical and well-thought-out plans at Click on “issues.”

Mr. Elorza is someone who can bring people together to work for the common good. He has no interest in sowing hatreds. He understands that one can be a tough and effective leader without conducting oneself as a belligerent lout. His remarkable life experience has equipped him to connect with people in the city and beyond, from troubled youths in tough neighborhoods to corporate executives in mahogany-lined boardrooms.

Three former U.S. attorneys have made it clear that Providence (and Rhode Island) would pay dearly for supporting Cianci, by losing business and federal funds. Cianci’s criminal record would be a bright red flag to any corporate leader thinking of investing in the state, and make it hard for the Providence police to cooperate with statewide public safety efforts.

Cianci had his time. Cianci did his time. Now it is time to move forward with a new generation.

Jorge Elorza has the brains, character and leadership ability to build on Providence’s many wonderful attributes, and make it a greater city, rather than turn it into a national punch line. We urge voters to support him on Nov. 4.

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