PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Tensions between Gov. Dan McKee and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza reached a boiling point Wednesday ahead of what was supposed to be a celebratory event for the return of one of the capital city’s most popular events.
Elorza and McKee were both attending a ceremonial lighting of the WaterFire basins along the Providence River as the organization announced the downtown art installation’s return.
During the confrontation, Elorza can be seen pointing his finger at McKee and yelling, “You’ve got to face the community on this.”
Elorza was eventually separated from the governor by a member of McKee’s R.I. State Police detail. Following the event, Elorza confirmed he was trying to discuss the impending Providence teachers contract with McKee.
The mayor said he told McKee, “this shouldn’t be done in secret.” Elorza had earlier in the day held a news conference at the State House calling on McKee to release the contract before it became final.
“You can’t be afraid to confront the community, sell it to the community,” Elorza said. “If you believe it’s a transformational contract, stand before the community and tell them why you believe it’s transformational. But simply hiding and doing it in secret and wanting to wrap this up before facing the community, that’s not the way that this is supposed to be done.”
Following the WaterFire event, McKee declined to comment on the confrontation.
“Right now we’re celebrating WaterFire,” McKee said.
McKee and Elorza are expected to be potential opponents in the Democratic primary for governor next year. The two have had rising tensions in recent weeks, including over the state takeover of Providence schools.
Earlier this month, McKee criticized Elorza for not immediately taking him up on the offer to provide the city with state resources to curb the uptick in violence.