Victor Capellan expects to lead Providence Democrats

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Veteran political operative and educator Victor Capellan is poised to become the new chairman of Providence’s Democratic City Committee.

Capellan, a co-chairman of Mayor Jorge Elorza’s transition team who currently serves as the city committee’s vice chairman, told WPRI.com he expects to be voted to lead the committee at a meeting Saturday morning at the Rosario Society Hall in Silver Lake.

“I am excited about the opportunity to serve the Providence Democratic City Committee, and I look forward to receiving the support of the members this Saturday alongside the rest of the dedicated members of the slate,” Capellan told WPRI.com. “Together we will capitalize on the energy and excitement from Mayor Elorza’s campaign to move Providence forward and advance the values we share as Democrats.”

The chairman is elected by the entire city committee, but it has historically supported the candidate backed by the Democratic mayor. Elorza’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday, but as the highest ranking Democratic elected official in the city, he serves as an ex-officio officer of the committee.

Capellan, 44, would replace Sen. Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin as head of the city’s branch of the Democratic Party. One of the most well-respected lawmakers on Smith Hill, Goodwin recently returned to her job in the city planning department after Elorza chose not to keep her as deputy chief of staff, a position she held during the final year of the Taveras administration.

Capellan was briefly a candidate for Providence mayor before he backed out of the race and endorsed Elorza in 2013. He also served as a co-chairman for Democrat Clay Pell’s failed campaign for governor. In 2010, he was Angel Taveras’s deputy campaign manager.

A former deputy superintendent of schools in Central Falls, Capellan now works for Mass Insight Education, a Boston-based nonprofit.

If Capellan is elected chairman, he would be the fourth new leader of the city committee since 2011. Ken Richardson, Lauren Nocera and Goodwin all held the volunteer position for a short time during the Taveras administration.

He’d also be taking over committee that has picked the wrong candidate for mayor in each of the last two elections.

In 2010, the committee overwhelmingly endorsed Steven Costantino over Taveras and John Lombardi; he finished third in the primary. In 2014, the committee back Michael Solomon over Elorza, Brett Smiley and Lorne Adrain. Elorza edged out Solomon in the September primary.

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

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