PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – Former Mayor Buddy Cianci kicked off his general election matchup against Jorge Elorza by answering questions about his corruption conviction and trying to focus on what he said the race is about: Which candidate can lead Providence to a better future?
Elorza, a law professor and former housing court judge, meanwhile, spent the day after his victory in the Democratic primary reminding people of the corruption and cronyism that reigned at City Hall under Cianci.
Cianci, 73, on Wednesday held his first news conference since announcing in June he would make a comeback bid for his old job by running as an independent. He has been driven twice from office due to felony convictions, most recently in 2002, when he was convicted of racketeering conspiracy amid a federal probe into widespread corruption at City Hall.
Cianci told reporters and a roomful of supporters that he was “the most vetted candidate” and said he had paid his debt to society, having spent more than four years in prison.
“I paid the price. The law says I can run again,” Cianci said.
When asked how he could assure voters that he could run an ethical administration this time around, Cianci said people have the right to question the integrity of their government, and he planned to find staffers who are “beyond reproach.”
Cianci added that the overwhelming majority of workers in his past administration were very competent, and that in a city with 4,000 to 5,000 employees, “You can’t control everybody.”
He said the city’s voters know him, and know what he can accomplish.