By Dan McGowan
The 2014 election is still a lifetime away, but Providence Mayor Angel Taveras got some good news Friday night when his deputy chief of staff Gonzalo Cuervo was elected president of the Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund, the group that oversees one of the most influential political action committees in the state.
“I am honored and excited by the opportunity to strengthen civic participation among Latinos, inform decision makers on the issues that impact our community and contribute to efforts that improve the lives of all Rhode Islanders,” Cuervo said in a statement to WPRI.com. “Both the Civic Fund and PAC have played an important role in the local political process. We look forward to building upon that legacy and increasing the organization’s impact.”
Cuervo has quietly become an influential force in Providence politics, serving in various roles under former mayor and now Congressman David Cicilline before an unsuccessful run for City Council in 2010. The Springfield College graduate joined Mayor Taveras’s team in 2011. He replaces Carmen Diaz Jusinoas as president of the Civic Fund.
Cuervo’s election may be another chink in the armor for Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who was endorsed by the Laitino PAC in 2010 and has advocated for in-state tuition and driver’s licenses for undocumented citizens since taking office. Chafee has made it clear he intends to seek re-election in 2014, but if Taveras throws his hat in the ring, a significant portion of the governor’s base could flock toward the Providence mayor.
Politics aside, Cuervo has another pressing issue to deal with as leader of the Civic Fund. While the Latino community has proved itself as an influential player during elections, it has struggled to earn its seat at the table when discussing the state’s economic future. Cuervo’s ability to bring political and business leaders together will be vital over the next year.
Other members elected for two-years terms were Jose F. Batista, Vice President; Ingrid Ardaya, Secretary; Melba Depeña, Treasurer and Obed Papp, Executive Assistant, in addition to At-Large Members Anthony Affigne, Jackie Alvarez, Betty Bernal, Doris Blanchard, Claudia Cardona and Melida A. Espinal.