5. The Rise of James Diossa
Central Falls Mayor James Diossa is already an emerging star within the state’s Democratic party, having been recently appointed as President of The Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns, and frequently appearing with established members of the party.
2019 could be a pivotal year for Diossa, with major infrastructure and policy projects potentially coming to fruition in Central Falls, the recently bankrupt city he oversees.
Successes during the home-stretch of his mayoral tenure could position Diossa extremely well for a gubernatorial run in 2022. While he certainly possessing ideas of his own, Diossa is in many ways an amalgamation of his potential top would-be Democrat opponents: the youth of Treasurer Seth Magaziner, the identity politics element of Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, and the hands on, municipal experience of Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee.
He also has many overlaps with Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, another potential 2022 Democratic gubernatorial contender, and could leverage Central Falls’ rebound as a fiscal success story, versus Mayor Elorza’s potential struggle with pension liabilities and other fiscal matters.
4. Alliances within new Providence City Council
While much has rightfully been made about the incoming Providence City Council having a female majority for the first time, the breakdown of how each of the woman on the council may vote on many key issues, and the alliances that form as a result of those positions, will have great influence in policy decisions and future elections in Providence.
Issues such as zoning ordinances and oversight (see: water supply sale?) could potentially find the council divided on how to move Providence forward. Both Council President Sabina Matos and Councilor Nirva Lafortune are worth following closely, as they each possess mayoral qualities.
For either of these groups to accomplish their goals they will need to exert significant degrees of compromise with both each other, and primarily, with Speaker Mattiello and the established, conservative Democrats that control the gavel.
2. Consolidation of Governor Raimondo’s influence with the General Assembly
With a rock solid victory (to the tune of some 53% of the overall gubernatorial vote in a six-way contest), Governor Gina Raimondo is now positioned to exert much more influence within the General Assembly than she did during her first term.
In announcing a series of goals during her inaugural address focused on economic prosperity along with health and well-being “for all Rhode Islanders”, Governor Raimondo expressed commitment to a number of initiatives including healthcare, gun control, education and job training. However, in order to accomplish these measures she must be able to compromise - but ultimately exert power and might - over a decidedly conservative Democratic General Assembly leadership.
1. Bids and proposals related to maritime wind turbine development
Rhode Island may be uniquely situated to emerge as a national model for the implementation and use of wind power, particularly those that are constructed within the ocean.
While a Deepwater Horizon spawned wind farm located in Block Island Sound has supplied “clean” power to an island previously operating off of diesel generators, the notion to scale wind to become a more significant power supply source for all of Rhode Island is one filled with ambiguities and uncertainty.
As this process is navigated - from federal and local drilling and right-of-way issues, to the beneath-the-surface power wrangling for opportunities to bid on maritime wind related projects, to conversation about the cost benefit analysis of turbines - expect wind to quietly become the next gold rush for well-connected and well-informed individuals and companies.
While many would tout gambling, cannabis or blockchain technology as a key to the future of Rhode Island’s economy, wind may ultimately become the resource most pursued and regulated, with 2019 serving as the benchmark year for the process to gain full speed.
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