PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Brett Smiley has won the Democratic nomination for mayor of Providence, according to unofficial results, effectively clinching the office as there are no Republicans or independents running in the general election.
Smiley defeated Gonzalo Cuervo and Nirva LaFortune in the three-way race for the wide-open seat. Incumbent Mayor Jorge Elorza could not run for reelection due to term limits.
“I have said throughout this campaign that I will be a mayor for the entire city,” Smiley said in a victory speech at the Narragansett Brewery in Providence.
Smiley won 42% of the vote as of midnight Tuesday night, while Cuervo had 36% and LaFortune won 22%, according to the unofficial results from the Board of Elections.
In a live interview on 12 News, Smiley said his priorities will include improving public schools, public safety and basic city services such as snow removal.
It was the second time Smiley ran for mayor; his first run in 2014 was unsuccessful, and he ultimately dropped out to endorse Elorza, who won the race.
“Over the last eight years since that last campaign, I’ve had fabulous opportunities to work for the city, to work for Gov. Raimondo, to serve the state during the COVID crisis,” Smiley said. “And over those eight years I’ve built friendships, relationships, got really deep into the community. I never stopped actually doing the work of relationship-building in the neighborhoods, and that made all the difference.”
In his victory speech Smiley thanked Michael Solomon, who was initially a candidate in the race but dropped out in May to endorse Smiley.
“It was a pivotal moment in this campaign,” Smiley said in the speech.
LaFortune and Cuervo both called Smiley to concede the race. Both said they congratulated Smiley on his win.
“I wish him and our city the very best,” LaFortune said on Twitter.
“Thank you to everyone who joined me on this remarkable journey, gave generously of themselves, and reaffirmed their love for our amazing city,” Cuervo said.
Smiley, the former R.I. director of administration and former chief of staff to Gov. Gina Raimondo, by far raised and spent the most money in the race. His large war chest allowed him to go on the air with TV ads, while the other candidates did not.
Cuervo secured Elorza’s backing along with the support of former Mayor Angel Taveras, while LaFortune won a eleventh-hour endorsement from the Providence Teachers Union.
LaFortune is a sitting city councilor representing Ward 3 on the East Side of Providence, while Cuervo most recently served as deputy secretary of state under Nellie Gorbea.
This is a developing news story and will be updated.