As the Democratic primary approaches on September 13, most of the attention is on the showdown between three candidates looking to succeed the term-limited Jorge Elorza as Mayor of Providence. But, simultaneously, 42 candidates – many of them first-timers – spread among the City’s 15 wards are running for the City Council. About half of the council seats are open, so there will be a lot of change.
A hotly contested race is unfolding in Ward 3, whose seat is being vacated by mayoral candidate Nirva LaFortune. The ward includes sections of the East Side, including all of Summit and Mount
The three candidates vying for the seat are Sue AnderBois, Corey Jones, and Bradly VanDerStad, who all hold similar progressive views, with each having one issue they are more passionate about. They share a global perspective but also have a real ground-level understanding of the local issues. All three are out-of-state transplants who have logged significant time in getting themselves involved in the
Sue AnderBois, 38, grew up in New Jersey, and she’s ready to make an imprint on Providence. She served as Rhode Island’s first director of food strategy and is an advocate for climate, food systems, and systemic social issues at The Nature Conservancy. She and husband, Scott, live on Fifth Street and have been residents of Ward 3 for seven years. Her husband, a Brown professor, recently earned tenure so they expect to be here for the long haul.
AnderBois chose to get an MBA at Yale over one in public policy, a decision she feels provides her with a good understanding of the city’s budget and financial issues. She supported the recent pension
“Housing, infrastructure, public safety, and climate change” are the major issues she’s identified throughout the ward. “I think that these are also citywide issues that have to be addressed from their root causes,” she adds, indicating that her hands-on experience with the city will serve her well.
Quality of life issues are also important to AnderBois. She is a bike and traffic-calming advocate but believes there needs to be a “look back” after implementation to see if the effects are an improvement. “We have to respect the businesses’ needs, like on Hope Street, with workarounds on some of these issues,” she says, as well as the North Main Street plan being studied. She loves living in Ward 3 because it’s a true microcosm of the city’s diversity on every level.
Corey Jones, 25, grew up in Chicago and Iowa, but when a friend told him how great Providence was, he packed up and moved here (with a car that barely made it!). Jones is the founder and former executive director of the Black Lives Matter RI PAC, a former advisor to Governor McKee, and currently works at the Department of Labor and Training. In 2016, he was a National Delegate at the Democratic National Convention for Bernie Sanders. He has been a resident for over four years and lives at University Heights.
Jones was endorsed by the Black Lives Matter RI PAC and State Senator Tiara Mack, who represents District 6, which includes most of Mount Hope. He believes that “addressing the root causes of many city and social problems at a grassroots level is the best way to create change and resolve many of the significant issues that young people face in the ward and the city.”
Regarding key neighborhood issues, Jones has been working with the state and the city to expand the community violence intervention program, which he believes will make great progress at addressing the neighborhood public safety issue. Affordable housing, schools, climate change, and quality of life issues are other priorities. Increasing economic development on North Main and in the ward are also priorities.
“I support bike lanes and traffic mitigation, but I think residents who will be directly affected must be part of the conversation, and the impact on quality of life on nearby streets must be considered.” He supported the pension bond, but is concerned that the numbers may no longer work.
Bradly VanDerStad, 27, hails from New Jersey and came to Providence as a student at Johnson & Wales about 10 years ago. Since then he has come to love his adopted state, so much so he sports a tattoo of a map of Providence on his forearm and actually gives walking tours of the city in his spare time. He is the current vice president of the Summit Neighborhood Association and takes special pride in what SNA has been able to accomplish. He is the assistant editor for Motif Magazine and lives on Lippitt Street.
His three most important priorities are to make sure North Main Street, a long-ignored potential asset to the city, is developed properly. He is especially concerned about a 165,000-square-foot trucking center that is being planned for the old Microfibres building in Pawtucket, right near the Providence line, and worries about its impact on traffic, as well as if it will complement possible projects
on the street.
As a former AmeriCorps teacher, dealing with Providence school issues is at the top of his agenda. Housing and public health needs are his second and
VanDerStad prides himself on doing the proper research to build coalitions to ensure success. After addressing his initial concerns, he voted in favor of the pension bond. He is also a bike rider and advocate, but prefers that a sensible approach, with community buy-in would be best.
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