Ward 11

Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris

Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris has been on the City Council since 2014, and currently serves as the Deputy Majority Leader. She serves as the Vice-Chairwoman of both the Committee on Urban Redevelopment, Renewal and Planning and the Committee on Public Works. She represents constituents in the Upper South Providence and West End neighborhoods.

 

READ HER FULL BIO HERE >

Ward 11: Upper South Providence & West End

This ward is defined by the large medical campus that is located just West of I-95 and south of downtown Providence. The Hasbro Children's Hospital, Women & Infants Hospital, and Rhode Island Hospital are located within this campus. Rhode Island Hospital is the state's primary trauma center, and the hospital has a close affiliation with the Brown University Medical School. This ward is also home to the central campus of The MET Community High School. The MET is a network of six small public high schools in Providence and Newport that put the emphasis on vocational training and experiential learning.

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City Council Requests Audit of the 2017 $45M Bond for Public Works Projects

Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5), Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), and Councilman David A. Salvatore (Ward 14) introduced two resolutions requesting that the City of Providence provide status reports and updates on street and sidewalk projects and their expenditures associated with the $45M Bond that was approved by the City Council in 2017.

“To date the Council has had not been updated regarding what Bond proceeds have been expended,” stated Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan. “I have been advocating for accountability for the work that was authorized under this bond for months. When constituents question why certain streets are being paved or not, and why the City is installing ill-conceived street redesign plans they deserve to know how the City is spending their tax dollars. I also want to know how much of these funds were used to develop the Mayor’s ‘Great Streets’ initiative. I am not an opponent of bicycle lanes, in fact, I support creating an urban environment conducive to multimodal transportation. However, that was not what the City Council had in mind when we authorized the City to secure this bond funding. Our goal was to make sure that we spend precious taxpayer dollars to pave and fix as many streets and sidewalks as possible, and to ensure accountability in the process.”

The resolution introduced by Majority Leader Ryan and Deputy Majority Leader Harris focusses on the portion of the funding that was allocated for street repairs, paving, and improvements. “In my Ward there has been little improvement to our streets and that concerns me. My constituents continually ask when their streets are being paved or repaired and I just don’t have the answers. They deserve better,” stated Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris.

In 2017 the City Council approved the Elorza Administration to take out a $45M Bond to implement a Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to fund critical improvements to streets, sidewalks, and other infrastructure projects. To date the City Council has not received a public report regarding the status of these funds.

Councilman David A. Salvatore stated, “Holding the Administration accountable for how they spend our resident’s hard-earned tax dollars is not only our duty, but it is unfortunate that we have to do so by passing legislation to get a breakdown of what work has been done. I hear from constituents every day about the state of our sidewalks. I realize that this was a large scale project, but their needs to be transparency for our residents.”

The City Council is requesting the Administration and the Director of Public Works to submit a project progress report and fiduciary updates to the City’s Internal Auditor for review within 30 days of passage.

Statement from Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris

Today, for the first time, I was made aware of an ongoing plan to create a nightclub district bordering my ward. This idea, championed by Dylan Conley, chair of our City’s Board of Licenses, and supported by a couple of my colleagues, is concerning to say the least. Even more disappointing is the fact that my neighbors and I have been left out of the conversation leading up to the big announcements over the weekend and this morning.

Surely, the next Councilor from Ward 10 (where this district is being considered) should’ve had a say before this type of proposal went public. Undeniably, our families and business owners are often taken for granted when grand developments are envisioned in our community.

Too often, the Southside is used as a dumping ground for the ideas no one else is willing to house in their own backyards. While homeless shelters, social service agencies, and rehab centers (just to name a few) are all worthwhile investments, why is it always the Southside community that has to compromise quality of life for the better good?

My neighbors and families deserve better than the treatment they’re too often afforded. This idea, like too many others, devalues our voice and assumes indifference. I’m hoping to learn more about this nightclub district proposal in the coming days and hope that my constituents are formally invited to the table.

City Council Votes to Create Community Choice Electricity Aggregation

The Providence City Council voted tonight to authorize the Mayor and the City’s Office of Sustainability to develop and implement an aggregation plan to allow the residents of Providence to have more control over their electric bills.

According to the EPA, Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), also known as municipal aggregation, are programs that allow local governments to procure power on behalf of their residents. CCAs provide communities that want more local control over their electricity sources, more green power than is offered by the default utility, and lower electricity prices.

“With National Grid slated to raise our electricity rates by 8% this fall we need to offer our residents a way to lessen the burden and I believe community aggregation is a step in the right direction,” stated Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5). “Residents across the City saw tax increases on their properties, and even on their income taxes, and an 8% increase on our electricity bills adds up. Allowing the City to buy power in bulk, and buy alternate forms of power is not only the right thing to do, it’s the green thing to do. This is one more step in making Providence a carbon-neutral city by 2050!”

Under Rhode Island state law, CCA programs provide the opportunity to bring the benefits of competitive choice of electric supplier, longer-term price stability and more renewable energy options to the residents and businesses of the City of Providence and other municipalities in Rhode Island. The City Council is in full support of this program and the potential monetary and environmental benefits to our community.

Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11) stated, “My neighbors are worried, they are worried about how are they going to pay their electric bill and keep food on the table. An increase of 8% will harm my neighbors, especially my elderly neighbors who are on a fixed income, and young families. I love the idea that residents will have a choice of a provider and not forced into using one source for their electricity.”

With tonight’s resolution the City Council authorizes the Mayor to engage a consultant with experience in developing and administering CCA programs to assist the City in the creation and operation of an aggregation plan and CCA program provided that the City shall not be required to draw upon the General Fund to compensate such consultant.

“I am very happy to be a co-sponsor of this important piece of legislation,” stated Councilwoman Helen Anthony (Ward 2). “No matter where you live you should be able to have a choice regarding your electric service provider. Many residents want an option to buy electricity that is greener – such as solar or wind generated power – and they should have that option. This is a great step forward in embracing the green economy.”

The Office of Sustainability will provide regular updates to the full City Council regarding the development and implementation of the aggregation plan and CCA program.

 

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