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  Providence Journal Article
This article appeared in the September 6, 2006 issue of the Providence Journal newspaper.
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Population: 176,862
Elevation: 115 feet
Land area: 18.5 square miles
Providence Journal
September 5, 2006

Mayoral hopefuls face off Sept. 12

The race between Daniel F. Harrop and David B. Talan marks the first GOP primary contest for mayor of Providence in three decades.

01:00 AM EDT on Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE -- In a city where the Democrats have long dominated local politics, there is a Republican primary for mayor -- the first in 28 years.

Dr. Daniel F. Harrop, a psychiatrist, has the party's endorsement. His opponent, David B. Talan, a computer systems analyst, ran for mayor four years ago.

Both men offer similar reasons for their decisions to mount a primary challenge: the city's struggling school system and the city's finances.

Talan, 57, of 25 Santiago St., wants to give parents the opportunity to send their children to a private or parochial school, which would be partially subsidized by a $4,000 voucher.

"Eight thousand children have already left the public schools," Talan said. "My estimate is that another 10,000 would do so if they had vouchers."

Talan claims that the city would save at least $25 million if public school enrollment was drastically reduced.

"We can balance the city's budget by reducing spending on public education," he said.

The two candidates offer vastly different methods of bringing spending under control. Talan supports Cranston Mayor Stephen P. Laffey's unsuccessful taxpayer relief plan, which would allow cities to refuse to implement unfunded mandates.

"Providence has an unfunded pension liability of $630 million," he said. "We need to remove pensions from the collective bargaining system."

Harrop said high property taxes will continue to squeeze the middle class until the city can find fresh sources of revenue. One possibility, he said, would be to increase the tax on business and industry. As a one-time-only measure, Harrop supports selling huge tracts of city-owned land around the Scituate Reservoir, land that he says is no longer needed for watershed protection.

Talan thinks that there is strength in numbers. A total of 23 candidates are running for City Council or state representative in the Republican primary -- the largest number in years.

"I think a lot of people are looking for alternatives," he said. "It's a long shot but someone has to do it." / (401) 277-7823

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