A 32-year-old Cranston police officer and war veteran now challenges the seat of City Councilman Seth Yurdin, who was first elected in 2006. Supporters of the incumbent could argue that he is doing a fine job in the position, at least based on his win in the September primary against fellow Democrat Malcolm Reis with 72% of the vote. Others might say that what Michael Long represents is equally valuable to the community; the Rhode Island native understands first-hand what it means when people say “we need more boots on the ground.” Long is a boot, a boot that wants to break into local government.
Working in the service of others is a lifetime commitment for Long. He spent six years in the National Guard and one year in Afghanistan, and has earned a Masters of Science in Criminal Justice from Northeastern University.
“I decided not to continue with the military, but I wanted to continue my service, so when the opportunity arose to run for office, I took it."
As an officer who works just outside of Providence, Long consistently encounters citizens who have nothing but negative reactions toward the city; many believe it’s riddled with hazardous criminal activity.
“Just walk around the East Side and it doesn’t look good – empty storefronts, broken windows, graffiti. The police are bare bones, you can’t be productive because you have to be able to respond to calls for service, whether its for traffic accidents, complaints of crimes such as loss of your tires – patrol officers have to respond to those calls, so they are not able to be pre-emptive. They are not able to make those community bonds between police, residents and business owners that we really need.”
Yurdin, a two-term Councilman and current Majority Leader, has used his position to promote and achieve community building initiatives like ensuring the Fox Point senior center remains open, working to establish a Gano Park boat ramp, and keeping the neighborhood library open and funded. He serves on numerous committees and is Chairman of the Committee on Ordinances.
“For a couple of years we’ve had a series of hearings in the Ordinance Committee. We’ve pushed the board of licenses to adopt a whole host of policies and procedures; I’ve pushed for new leadership in the board of licenses that has really cracked down on the ‘problem’ nightclubs. The real issue is this – things happen downtown, officers get pulled in from other neighborhoods to respond because we have limited resources. I’ve worked on this [as Chairman] and made a lot of progress. The board has real teeth.”
Long has an alternative perspective.
“If we had adequate staffing we could have foot patrols on Wickenden, up and down Fox Point, down near Whiskey Republic. I get home from work around 12:30am and I’m not sleeping until 3am because the kids loiter around. Without police presence, pretty soon they’re urinating on the sidewalk. It just shows a lack of understanding from the incumbent city councilman.”