Lombardi makes his pitch for mayor of Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – All this week WRNI will run a series of profiles of the five candidates running for mayor of Providence. Democrat John Lombardi once briefly held that job, and he's pursuing it again.

The 58-year-old Lombardi lives on Federal Hill. He's a lawyer and 26-year city councilor who calls for reducing the city's high dropout rate through expanded early childhood education. He also backs more efforts to help small business, in part through a revised city loan program.

"We need capital," Lombardi says. "We need a uniform licensing and permit process, and we need to do what has to be done to keep our trained and educated individuals in the city of Providence, in the city of Providence."

Lombardi is fond of describing how he overcame challenges as a kid, including the loss of his parents. He later worked his way through law school, and won election to the city council in 1984.

After becoming council president, Lombardi served as acting mayor for a few months when Buddy Cianci left office in 2002. With Providence at a crossroads, he says he has the right combination to lead the city.

"This is going to be an issue of leadership and experience, and that's what distinguishes me, clearly, from the other individuals," he says. "Providence can ill-afford a learning curve, and I'm prepared from day one to go into that office."

Lombardi is a bit less smooth than the two perceived frontrunners, Angel Taveras and Steven Costantino. But he's run a very visible campaign, has his supporters, and at minimum, will be a factor in the four-way Democratic primary next Tuesday.