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Providence RI: a pasta maker for mayor ?

Costantino to run for Providence mayor

costantino providence venda ravioli

State Rep. Steven M. Costantino, chairman of the House Finance Committee, announced his candidacy for mayor on Thursday at Prospect Park on the East Side.

Standing aside the towering statue of Roger Williams with the downtown as his backdrop, Costantino rolled out a proposal to have local business leaders act as ambassadors to recruit companies to Providence and promised to make city services more accessible to residents.

Costantino, 52, was joined by five of his seven brothers, his mother and about 70 supporters, including new state House Speaker Gordon Fox, a Providence Democrat, and state Representatives Peter Kilmartin, of Pawtucket, and Nicholas Mattiello, of Cranston.

A Federal Hill Democrat, Costantino is the third announced candidate for mayor. His announcement comes less than a week after Mayor David N. Cicilline said he would forgo reelection to run for Congress in the 1st District.

His 20-minute speech focused on developing the city’s medical and biotech industries and ending the city’s exodus of college graduates. “We educate the best and the brightest, and then they leave,” he said. “We are in competition with the rest of the nation and we have seen businesses and jobs come and go.”

A proposed peer-to-peer program would be one of the ways that he would focus on building the city’s innovation economy. “Imagine the CEO of a medical research company learning about the experience of owning a business here, directly from an industry peer,” he said.

A frequent critic of the city’s colleges and hospitals in the legislature, he applauded those same institutions for working with city, state and federal officials to build a hub of new industry in the Jewelry District.

“Higher education institutions do contribute. I have criticized them in the past for not doing their part in the economic development of this city, but they’ve really stepped forward,” Costantino said after his speech.

Costantino also said vocational training would be a priority. He promised public education initiatives focused on developing students with the skills needed to be competitive and marketable in growing industries.

He said he would simplify city services, create a service center outside the downtown to meet the needs of residents and business owners. “You shouldn’t get a parking ticket for coming to City Hall to pay your taxes,” he said. “I will remove the hurdles that delay new projects, limit business growth and deter residents.”

The proposals, such as the service center, echoed some of the things that Cicilline enumerated as priorities for the coming year in his State of the City address earlier this month. “The mayor has done a fine job, but there is probably room for improvement,” he said.

Elected to the state legislature in 1994, Costantino is a manager at Venda Ravioli, his family’s Italian market on Atwells Avenue. Costantino says he will step away from his duties at Venda Ravioli, but he won’t walk away from his powerful chairmanship on the House Finance Committee. Costantino has served as chairman since January 2004.

Costantino has stated his interest in the mayor’s office in previous years, but only if Cicilline was not seeking reelection. In 2002, he filed papers forming a campaign for mayor, but did not follow through with an election run.

Meanwhile, former Mayor Joseph R. Paolino Jr., another Democrat with Federal Hill roots (he held the Ward 13 City Council seat prior to John J. Lombardi), says he loaned his campaign $500,000 on Wednesday but has not yet decided if he is officially in the hunt.

Lombardi, a councilman, former mayor, and another Federal Hill Democrat, announced his candidacy Monday. Christopher Young, a Narragansett resident who has run for mayor and other state and local offices, is also running.

Others who are considering a run include Board of Licenses Chairman Andrew J. Annaldo, a former councilman and unsuccessful mayoral candidate; Councilmen Michael A. Solomon and Kevin Jackson; lawyer Angel Taveras; former state Sen. Myrth York, a three-time Democratic nominee for governor; and state Sen. Juan M. Pichardo.

BIO Steven M. Costantino

RESIDENCE: 120 Courtland St.

OFFICE SOUGHT: Mayor of Providence

EDUCATION: La Salle Academy (1975); B.A., from Providence College (1979)

ELECTED OFFICE: State House of Representatives, District 8, 1994 to present; House Finance Committee chairman, 2004-present

FAMILY: Single

Source: www.projo.com

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