2017-07-06 / Election News

ELECTION COVERAGE 2017

Newport's summer is heating up politically, with the special election for Rhode Island State Senate District 13 race scheduled on Aug. 22. With four Democrats vying for a spot on the ballot, a Democratic primary will be held July 18. The seat, which represents Newport and Jamestown, became vacant on March 31, when M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D) resigned to lead the Hospital Association of Rhode Island. The timing of the election is dictated by the Secretary of State's office, which requires the election to be held anywhere from 70 to 90 days after the vacancy opened. Voters must participate in the primary of their affiliated party. After the primary, the last day to register to vote in the special election is July 23. Mail ballots are due Aug. 1. The winner of the primary will be placed on the ballot along with Republican Michael Smith, Independent Kimberly Ripoli and Green Party candidate Gregory Larson.

To provide voters an overview of the Democratic candidates we put together a spread of their background and how they stand on policy issues currently facing the general assembly:

#1) What is your stance on House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello's car tax phase-out proposal? If approved, how do you think the program would impact Providence vs. Newport residents?

#2) What is your stance on the Governor's free college tuition plan?

#3) Since you announced, have you sought the advice of M. Teresa Paiva Weed on serving in the Senate? What initiative(s) of the former senate president would you continue to lobby for at Smith Hill?

David Allard

Age 35, single
Lived in Newport: Six months
Occupation: Manager of the state's
Third Grade Reading Goal program

#1) I support the dedication and repeal of the car tax. This is an onerous tax that affects nearly every voter. We should work collectively to reduce it and eliminate it. This is a tax that affects us all in some way or another. If we can work towards its eventual removal, we should.

#2) Perhaps no issue is nearer to my heart than ensuring quality, accessible and affordable education for all grade levels. Period. I am so pleased that all students will be offered free CCRI in the Governor's budget. As a former teacher, I am so pleased that students will know that there is a place for them at CCRI.

#3) Senator Paiva Weed fought for access to education and increased jobs and I would consider those my top two initiatives. I am also keenly interested in the development of the Newport Knowledge District, one of Teresa's top initiatives. I hope to carry on her legacy by working hard on these issues.

Dawn Euer

Age 38, single
Lived in Newport: 7 years
Occupation: Community lawyer

#1) We need to find ways to ease the tax burdens on everyday Rhode Islanders. However, I am concerned about the impact the car tax phase out will have on critical programs that our communities depend on – education, health care, and programs for seniors. With the state facing revenue shortfalls, the implementation of the proposed phase-out needs to be watched very closely and very carefully in the coming years so that we’re not proposing a short-term solution that results in increased costs in the long term. And I’m concerned about equity across the state. Cities and towns that have been overly dependent on the car tax will see increases in state revenue that Newport and Jamestown just won’t see. That’s a fairness issue for me.

#2) I support increased investment in higher education and making college more affordable and I think the Governor’s tuition plan is a good place to start. Cuts to higher education over the last several decades have pushed college out of reach for many Rhode Islanders. Particularly because we have a different economy than we did 20 years ago, that requires higher degrees and more investment in career and technical education to ensure that our children are prepared

for the workforce. I worked my way through college and when I graduated from law school it was with the burden of tens of thousands of dollars of debt of which I am still paying off. We can do better.

#3) I contacted Senate President Paiva Weed early on to let her know that I was going to run for this seat and to discuss how we might work together throughout this campaign and after I am elected. The Senate President has left some big shoes to fill and with my experience at the State House and advocating for the community, I’m ready to hit the ground running for Jamestown and Newport. You can count on me to continue to fight for education funding for our district and for the betterment and care of our children. These will most certainly be Paiva Weed’s legacy and I am committed to being a proud and outspoken leader for our Senate District!

John Florez

Age 46, married, two children
Lived in Newport: 11 years
Occupation: CEO, Drupal Connect

#1) The speaker’s plan calls for a complete phase of the car tax by 2024. I have talked with city officials about this and there is a general sense of concern. The speaker has not been very clear about where the funds for the reimbursements to the city will come from. For Newport, this could total close to $2 million. If you throw in the state’s budget shortfall of $130 million, the funding resources for reimbursing communities becomes further murky. These are essential funds that are needed to fund our schools and our infrastructure.

#2) Rhode Island college students have the fourth highest student debt in the nation. The average Rhode Island student graduates with more than $37,000 in debt, according to U.S. News and World Report. Student debt has a crippling effect on our local economy. There are fewer homes and cars being purchased and people who are drowning in student debt are less likely to start small businesses that drive our economy. Currently, New York, Maryland, Connecticut, California, Missouri and Kentucky offer free tuition. However, given our budget shortfall a free tuition program may not be practical. Instead,

we should look towards a program that will provide college graduates with tax breaks on their state taxes for a period of five years, provided that they stay in state. This program could prove to be a good long-term investment for our state.

#3) The senator had an enormous positive impact on our community. However, she has not responded to my email or phone request for a meeting. I have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for Sen. Paiva Weed. But I also believe it’s time for us to look towards the future. My efforts in the Senate will be on modernizing our economy with future industry jobs, such as green infrastructure, biotech and information technology. I will also focus on preserving our environment and ensuring that Rhode Island becomes a steward for environmental preservation.

David C. Hanos Jr

Age 47, married, four children
Lived in Newport: 46 years
Occupation: Captain, Newport Fire
Department

#1)I support any tax cut, but I realize Newport and Jamestown will have significant losses. This bill needs more work, so our district has parity with the others across the state.

#2) Free tuition is a great idea and I am in support of it. The trick is in the details to ensure that after we educate our young folks we have the jobs for them and they can afford to live here to contribute back into our economy. The question is we all need to figure out how to fund it.

#3) I have sought advice as she has been representing the district for a long time. She is well versed in the issues that are passionate and specific to this district.

Protecting the funds from the Pell Bridge to ensure the Governor doesn’t try to scoop out funds to cover the budget. That money belongs where it is for maintenance of our bridges and infrastructure. Funding the vocational and tech school better, and fighting for better school funding for our very unique system in Newport.

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