- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 24, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci has been toying for months with a possible post-prison comeback bid for mayor.

Cianci’s quips, antics and outsized personality made him famous during the 21 years he spent in office. He is a beloved rogue to some, deeply disliked by others who cringe at the thought of a possible run by a twice-convicted felon. Cianci, 73, has until Wednesday to declare his candidacy, and says he still hasn’t decided. He also says he doesn’t know whether he’d run as a Democrat or independent.

It would be his third stint as mayor. The first two are known around town as Buddy I and Buddy II. Five things to know about Cianci’s decision on whether to try for Buddy III:


Cianci resigned after his first conviction in 1984 for assaulting a man he thought was having an affair with his estranged wife. He ran again and won in 1990, then was convicted in 2002 of racketeering conspiracy for overseeing widespread corruption at City Hall. He spent 4 ½ years in federal prison. Cianci plays down both, choosing to focus on his good works during 21 years in office: presiding over the revival of a worn-down city in what he calls the Providence Renaissance. Under his watch, big projects got done, including building a massive shopping mall downtown. His work helped move rivers and railroad tracks, supported historic preservation and revitalized the city’s now-vibrant arts and restaurant scene.


Ask Cianci his vision for the city, and he’ll rattle off a list of things he’d like to fix: getting rid of a giant scrap metal heap that greets drivers as they enter the city from the south on Interstate 95, better utilizing the Port of Providence, filling potholes. The mayor needs to take care of five things to be good at the job, Cianci says, and all need improving: public safety, education, jobs, affordable housing, and cultural and recreation experiences. Perhaps most important, Cianci says he wants to restore hope and inspiration to the city’s residents - something he has often cited as his greatest accomplishment as mayor.


There are many, including several of the candidates who have declared for mayor. (Cianci, for his part, has called the candidates bean counters.) In addition to concerns that a Cianci mayoralty could usher in a return to cronyism and corruption, some residents have said they fear a Cianci run will prove an embarrassment to the city. Others have said that while they appreciate the work he did, times have changed, and 16 years after he last won an election, it’s time for a new leader.


They include ex-Mayor Joe Paolino, Jr., a former adversary who calls Cianci a policy wonk and someone who can get things done. “There’s going to be a tremendous amount of media scrutiny on him. He knows that,” Paolino says. “He also knows he’s the smartest one on the stage.” Paolino says Cianci has thousands of supporters he could tap to help the campaign.


Cianci has until 4 p.m. Wednesday submit his declaration of candidacy. He expects he’ll make the decision and announcement the same way he did last time he made a comeback to the mayor’s office: at the last minute. He may announce on his WPRO-AM talk show, which starts at 3 p.m. He also has a daily segment and weekly public affairs show on WLNE-TV. He plans to take a leave from both stations if he runs.

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