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Providence Councilman Goncalves is running for Congress

The Ward One Democrat joins a growing field of candidates vying to replace US Representative David Cicilline

Providence City Council member John Gonsalves.Handout

PROVIDENCE — Providence City Council member John Goncalves on Monday announced he is running for the First Congressional District seat that US Representative David N. Cicilline is vacating.

The running list of candidates includes Nicholas A. Autiello II, Representative Nathan W. Biah, Senator Sandra C. Cano, Representative Stephen Casey, Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos, and Allen Waters.

Goncalves, 32, a Democrat, represents Ward One, which includes Fox Point, Wayland Square, College Hill, The Jewelry District, and Downtown Providence. He now serves as the City Council’s senior deputy majority leader.

“As a millennial, a male of color, an elementary school teacher, a Providence city councilman, a two-time Brown University graduate, and a lifelong East Side of Providence resident and Rhode Islander, I bring many diverse perspectives and experiences that could serve as a critical voice for Rhode Islanders nationally,” Goncalves said. “We need responsive and effective leadership with a bold plan and vision for the First Congressional District.”

He noted he would be the first African-American to represent Rhode Island in Congress and that Providence represents a large number of votes in congressional primaries.


“Many people are struggling,” Goncalves said. “In Congress, we’ll be fighting to cut costs for Rhode Islanders, and also be fighting for economic justice, housing, good jobs, education, climate justice, gun violence prevention, reproductive rights, and ultimately a more prosperous Rhode Island for our state’s working families.”

Goncalves thanked Cicilline, who has been in office for 12 years, for his years of “distinguished service and extraordinary leadership.”

“The people of Rhode Island continue to deserve a voice for change in Washington, DC — a public servant on the side of working-class and everyday Rhode Islanders,” Goncalves said. “I’ve experienced firsthand the struggles that working people in our state endure, and ultimately, we need a fighter in Congress who will get away from politics as usual and fight for the people.”


Goncalves attended Providence public schools, is a Wheeler School graduate, and graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brown University. He now teaches at Wheeler, an independent coeducational college preparatory day school with a campus on Providence’s East Side.

Also on Monday, former state Representative Aaron Regunberg, a Providence Democrat who nearly beat Daniel J. McKee in a 2018 primary for lieutenant governor, said that he stepped down from his US District Court clerkship late last week and is exploring a run for the First Congressional District seat.

“Congressman Cicilline led the charge on a number of critical progressive issues,” Regunberg said, “and I think there’s a ton of people in our district who want to make sure our next representative will be that same kind of progressive fighter — someone who we know will take on excessive corporate power and fight for urgent climate action. There’s a lot of work to do to see if a run makes sense, but we built a broad coalition in 2018, and I’m looking forward to having a bunch of conversations to see if there’s excitement for a strong progressive campaign for this seat.”

Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at Follow him @FitzProv.