This story was last updated at 1:14 p.m. on March 23, 2017.

Newport City Councilor and local business owner John Florez announced today in a prepared statement that he will file paperwork to run in the special election for the vacated District 13 (Newport, Jamestown) State Senate seat.

M. Teresa Paiva Weed, formely President of the Senate, has been the state senator from District 13 since 1992. Paiva Weed announced yesterday that effective May 1, 2017, she will accept the presidency of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island (HARI), a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to assisting member hospitals to meet the health care needs of Rhode Islanders.

Her resignation as Senate President will occur over the next month or so, as will her resignation from the Senate. There will be a special election for Jamestown and Newport within 90 days of her stepping down from her Senate seat, the election would likely happen after this session comes to an end (June/July).

“Newport is very fortunate to have had Senator Paiva Weed’s serve as its representative in the Rhode Island State Senate. I wish her all the success and happiness in her new role as President of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island.,” Florez told What’sUpNewp on Wednesday night when asked for comment on what the departure of Paiva Weed means for him and Newport.

While five people have confirmed with What’sUpNewp that they are considering running for the open Senate seat, Councilor Florez is the first to throw his hat in the ring.

Update – Dawn Euer became the second person to throw her hat in the ring on March 24th, read more – Dawn Euer Announces Campaign for State Senate

“One of the greatest honors of my life was awarded to me by the people of Newport when you trusted me to represent you as an at-large City Councilor over the past two and a half years,” stated Florez in the statement. “The opportunity to give back to the community that has given me so much has been beyond rewarding. During my tenure as a Newport City Councilor, I’m proud of the advances we’ve made and the bold initiatives we’ve implemented. I truly believe we have made Newport a better city to live, work and raise a family. I also believe that I can serve the people of Newport in a greater capacity as your next State Senator. That’s why today I’m formally declaring my candidacy for the Rhode Island State Senate from the 13th District.”

Florez was first elected to the City Council in 2014, and re-elected in 2016. If Florez were to win the Senate seat for District 13, The Charter for the City Of Newport states that “any vacancies arising from resignation in the membership of the Council shall be filled by four affirmative votes of the remaining members of the Council within thirty days after the Council learns of the vacancy or, in the event of a tie vote or inability to elect, the vacancy shall be filled as soon thereafter as possible by a majority vote of all the remaining members of the Council; provided, however, the Council shall provide for the public solicitation of applicants.”

The statement goes on to share some of Florez’s accomplishments – “In his time on the Council, Florez has made revitalizing Newport’s economy a top priority. He played an instrumental role in crafting the Innovation Hub proposal – a project with the potential to transform Newport’s economy from a seasonal tourist-driven economy to a year-round robust economy that attracts high-paying jobs with good benefits. He successfully fought for tougher environmental regulations and has consistently stood up for Newport’s children, public schools, seniors and working families.”

Florez may be best known for his work around panhandling, police cameras, Cliff The Coyote and the ban of single-use plastic bags later this year in Newport.

“If given the honor of representing you at the State House as your next Senator, I will continue to advocate for Newport’s working families, our children, our public schools, our seniors, and our environment,” Florez also said in the statement. “Over the next few months, I look forward to discussing and debating the issues that are important to the people of Newport. This will be a people-driven campaign. I will be walking the district, visiting businesses, meeting people and hearing your concerns. Together, we can keep moving Newport forward.”

Florez is the founder of Drupal Connect, an award-winning, nationally-recognized technology company, located on Bellevue Avenue in Newport. John is the founder of the Newport Junior Tennis League, a free tennis program for children of low-income families, and is active with other charitable groups, including the Potter League. He is on the Board of the Directors for Boys Town of New England.

Florez lives in the Fifth Ward with his wife Karen and two children, Martha, 12 and Nefi, 9.


(Some information used in this story was obtained from a press release provided by John Florez.)

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Ryan Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp, LLC. Belmore has led What's Up Newp since December 2012. Belmore also serves as the Sr. Editor - North America for Mountain News - publisher of OnTheSnow. In his spare time, Belmore serves as the Vice President for the Board of Directors at Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors at Lucy's Hearth. Belmore is also a member and supporter of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.