Myrth York leaves Smiley’s campaign; will stay involved in mayor’s race

Myrth York announces a proposal to purchase the then-bankrupt Newport Creamery chain in November 2001. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Myrth York, a former state senator and three-time Democratic candidate for governor, has stepped down as co-chairwoman of Brett Smiley’s mayoral campaign to “focus my attention on efforts to highlight what’s at stake for Providence in this coming election.”

York, who introduced Smiley when he launched his campaign for mayor last December, told WPRI.com she remains of “fervent supporter” of the East Side Democrat, but said she will spend the coming weeks “speaking with friends, neighbors and other Rhode Islanders who recognize the importance of keeping Providence free of the policies and practices that once plagued its past.”

“Those of us who lived through the dark days of corruption – when Providence became nationally recognized as a place where government access and intervention where bought and sold as commodities – know that we cannot afford to turn back the clock on progress,” York said.

Smiley is running in the Sept. 9 primary against City Council President Michael Solomon, Jorge Elorza, Chris Young and Reinaldo Catone. The winner will take on Republican Daniel Harrop and independent Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr. in the general election.

York, who currently serves as chairwoman of city’s Zoning Board, is a longtime supporter of former mayor and now Congressman David Cicilline; she also played a vital role in helping Angel Taveras win City Hall in 2010. She is now supporting state Treasurer Gina Raimondo over Taveras in the Democratic primary for governor.

York didn’t state specifically how she plans to remain involved in the mayor’s race, but one way is to form an independent expenditure group. State law prohibits those types of groups from directly coordinating with campaigns.

State Rep. Ray Hull and Christine West remain co-chairs of Smiley’s campaign. In a statement, the campaign praised York.

“Myrth York has been, and remains, one of Brett’s biggest supporters,” spokesman Josh Block said. “Our campaign has benefited enormously from Myrth’s wealth of knowledge and experience, and her guidance over the past year has helped position us for victory on September 9th. ”

Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan

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