PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence has its first new leader in eight years after Brett Smiley formally took the oath of office to succeed Jorge Elorza, becoming the 39th mayor of the capital city.
Smiley, like previous mayors, was officially sworn in just after midnight early Monday in a private ceremony. Providence Probate Court Judge John Martinelli administered the oath. Smiley gave his inaugural address at a public inaugural ceremony held at the Providence Public Library.
The new mayor’s schedule for his first day on the job also includes participating in an interfaith breakfast, attending an afternoon reception and open house at City Hall, and hosting an inaugural celebration in the evening at the Waterfire Arts Center.
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All events are free and open to the public, but online registration is required for the event at Waterfire. RIPTA has announced that 23 bus routes will have detours in effect Monday afternoon from 2:45 to 4 p.m. in order to accommodate the mayoral inaugural.
Smiley’s team is looking to start tackling one of the biggest issues he faces — improving the city schools — right away. His staff has scheduled an “education listening session” for Saturday at 11 a.m. to solicit ideas from the public. Online registration is required.
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An Illinois native, he moved to Rhode Island in 2006 to manage the gubernatorial campaign of Democrat Charlie Fogarty, and first ran for mayor unsuccessfully in 2014. Elorza won that race but hired Smiley, who later went on to serve as chief of staff to Gov. Gina Raimondo.
Smiley made a number of personnel announcements in the weeks leading up to his inauguration. His senior team is led by chief of staff Emily Crowell, and his key personnel will include R.I. Department of Corrections Director Patricia Coyne-Fague as public works director.
The new mayor’s public safety lineup remains incomplete. He announced last week that two long-serving leaders, Police Chief Col. Hugh Clements and Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré, will not be staying on — Clements is taking a new, yet-to-be-announced position outside the city — but he has not named their replacements.
Additionally, Smiley has appointed Derek Silva as fire chief, filling a job that has been vacant for years now.
Smiley won’t be the only new leader at City Hall as 2023 gets under way. The City Council will also have a sizable number of new members, with Councilor Rachel Miller expected to become its new president. The new council is set to be inaugurated and pick its leadership Monday at noon.