Kat Kerwin not seeking re-election in Providence, but she has no regrets

Even before being sworn in, she made waves by declaring that she supported the decriminalization of prostitution. Then there was his passionate defense of individuals who vandalized a statue of Christopher Columbus (which was later removed). And she has become a strong supporter of defunding the police.

Many of her colleagues on the all-Democratic 15-member council had already distanced themselves from her when police body camera video emerged of her saying she was going to call the police chief about a noise complaint at a local bar owned by a friend, before saying the neighbor who complained should “[expletive] get over it” because they live downtown.

Kerwin did herself a disservice with the immature way she handled the incident, but she also became a caricature of the local progressive movement for anyone who disagreed with leftist political views. For a little while, you couldn’t begin discussing sensible police reform without first explaining what you thought of the counselor.

Now 25, Kerwin says she doesn’t regret any of those times on the board, but she’s decided she won’t run again later this year. She plans to complete law school (she attends Roger Williams University Law School) and call the bar in February 2023.

“It was really difficult to get a lot of substantive political issues across,” Kerwin told me on Monday. “If I have the wretched aspects of politics, I would like to at least feel like I’m doing a good job.”

To be clear, by miserable aspects, she means “when someone calls you ac*** on the internet”.

Kerwin faced plenty of taunts on Twitter during her time on the board, and at times she seemed to accept being a polarizing figure in the same way pro wrestlers pride themselves on having an entire arena to boo them. .

But at some point, it stopped being fun. She faced threats from anonymous idiots, and sometimes she felt unsafe.

More importantly, she also realized that she couldn’t do much on the council.

When she was first elected, she wanted to find ways for Providence to pass some of the state’s preemptive laws, which prohibit the city from setting its own minimum wage or passing an ordinance if attacking payday loans.

The difficulty with legislative politics is that it is difficult to be a lone wolf. Although there are other progressive members of the city council, Kerwin says she has struggled to garner support at City Hall or the State House for many things.

“I didn’t go there to make enemies of everyone,” she said. “When a young man [is outspoken], they say it’s smart politics. When I do, I’m bitchy.

Yet Kerwin did not lose his idealistic view of politics. She said she was always passionate about helping young people and non-traditional candidates get elected to local office.

“I don’t need to be the person in front of me doing this work,” she says.

And as her elected term draws to a close – in our interview, she said she was unlikely to run for office in the future – she could end up having the last laugh, politically speaking. .

There’s a whole slate of left-leaning candidates running for city council, and with five incumbents leaving office due to term limits, there’s a good chance Providence will elect the most progressive legislative body in the city. state this year.


Dan McGowan can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.

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