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Providence mayor in race for governor

PROVIDENCE — Mayor Angel Taveras kicked off his campaign for governor Monday, promising if elected to give families and businesses in struggling Rhode Island a better chance to succeed.

Speaking at a Providence elementary school library, Taveras cited his work to address Providence’s financial problems and his background as the son of a working single mother who pushed him to success at Harvard University.

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‘‘Providence is on the road to recovery,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m running for governor because I know what can be achieved by putting the needs of families and children front and center.”

Taveras is the first prominent Democrat to enter the race to succeed Governor Lincoln Chafee.

He’s expected to face Treasurer Gina Raimondo in what is shaping up to be a contentious and expensive Democratic primary. Raimondo, who has not formally declared her candidacy, announced Monday that she raised $400,000 in the third quarter, giving her more than $2.3 million for the race.

Taveras hasn’t reported third-quarter donations but had less than $700,000 July 31.

Clay Pell, grandson of the late Senator Claiborne Pell, told The Providence Journal he is looking at running.

On the Republican side, Mayor Allan Fung of Cranston is contemplating a run for governor and will make an unspecified announcement next week. Businessman and Moderate Party founder Ken Block has said he’ll run as a Republican.

Taveras, 43, was elected as Providence’s first Hispanic mayor in 2010, taking over as deficits threatened to push the city into bankruptcy. He cut spending and positions, closed schools, raised taxes, and convinced tax-exempt organizations like Brown University to make voluntary payments.

Taveras angered educators two years ago by issuing firing notices to nearly all of Providence’s 2,000 teachers — though most were kept on. He took a more diplomatic approach when he negotiated pension settlements with public-sector unions and retirees. The deal prevented costly litigation and shaved millions off the city’s pension liabilities.

Taveras was born in New York to parents from the Dominican Republic. They moved to Providence when he was 7; later his parents divorced. He graduated from Harvard and Georgetown University’s law school.

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