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Get ready for a hot special election in Providence

Providence City Hall. (Lane Turner/Globe Staff)Lane Turner/Globe Staff

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Happy Friday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I'm Dan McGowan and I think “Uncut Gems” was a tad overrated. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to

Providence City Councilman Seth Yurdin stunned the city’s political class Thursday night when he informed his colleagues that he is resigning from his post with three years left in the current term.


Yurdin, an attorney who was elected to represent Ward 1 in 2006, said increased work obligations prompted his decision to step away from the council.

The resignation means there will be a special election to replace Yurdin, and at least five Ward 1 residents confirmed to Rhode Map they have interest in running for the seat:

  • Anthony Santurri, who runs the Colosseum nightclub downtown, said he was already planning to run for the seat in 2022 when Yurdin would have been term-limited. Now he’s definitely going to throw his hat in the ring.
  • Justice Gaines, an activist who lost to Yurdin in last year’s Democratic primary, said she is considering taking another shot.
  • Rich Pezzillo, the president of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, said he is mulling a run in the special election.
  • John Goncalves, a Brown University graduate who founded the Providence Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, said he’ll look closely at the race.
  • Elise Swearingen, a former city worker who now serves as a community engagement director with the state Office of Healthy Aging, considered running last year and says she’ll take another look at it this time around.

The race is more significant than your average local council race, in large part because Providence’s Ward 1 includes the rapidly growing downtown area. That makes it a more attractive seat for those interested in large-scale economic development projects.

With redistricting only one year away, a new councilor who isn’t term-limited could also have a major say over the next ward map. Remember, Yurdin gained a bunch of the downtown area thanks to changes in 2012.

Finally, it’s an election year in Rhode Island. This race will be seen as opportunity for various political groups – from the laborers to the new progressive Rhode Island Political Cooperative – to gain some momentum in the months before the General Assembly races heat up.


Rhode Map wants to hear from you. If you've got a scoop or a link to an interesting news story in Rhode Island, e-mail us at


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  • Congratulations to Rhode Island’s Jennifer Duffy, who is retiring from The Cook Political Report after nearly 32 years on the job.
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  • Correction: Yesterday’s edition of Rhode Map reported that the state is projecting $22.7 million in revenue from sports betting. That figure has been revised down to $9.4 million, according to Department of Revenue spokesperson Paul Grimaldi.
  • Question of the Week: There are so many good movies out right now, so I need to know the best movie theater in Rhode Island. Email me at and I’ll share the winner next week.


Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what's happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at

  • Rhode Map Live: House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio will be interviewed on Jan. 15 by yours truly about their priorities for 2020. The event will take place at District Hall in Providence. Tickets are free, but you have to RSVP here.
  • Congratulations to The Providence Journal, which opened for businesses 200 years ago as the “Manufacturers’ & Farmers’ Journal, Providence and Pawtucket Advertiser.” We may be competitors, but we love our friends at The Journal and we’re rooting for all of you. Thank you for everything that you do for this state.
  • Are you already thinking about the summer? Check out the Rhode Island Boat Show at the convention center this weekend. It runs today through Sunday.
  • This sounds fun: Newport Polo is opening an indoor equestrian facility this weekend.
  • If you love “Clue,” there’s a murder mystery dinner at Bravo Providence on Saturday night.
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Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to, or follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan. See you on Monday.

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Dan McGowan can be reached at Follow him @danmcgowan.