Council, representative candidates answer questions

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House District 19

David Mastriano

Independent

Mr. Mastriano declined the opportunity to respond to these questions.

Joseph McNamara

Democrat

Pilgrim High School; Boston University, B.S; Providence College, M.Ed.

School administrator (retired)

Community Organizations

Gaspee Days Committee, Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts of America, Friends of Salter’s Grove, member of New England Board of Higher Education, Irish Social Club, Warwick Hibernians, Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project, College Unbound, Save the Bay, American Cancer Society

What legislation would you sponsor should you be elected on November 8?

1. Repeal of car tax. 2. Increase funding for Warwick and Cranston public schools. 3. Increase accessibility to high-quality preschool programs. 4. Introduce the R.I. Student Loan Bill of Rights. 5. Prohibit delivery and sale of online synthetic opioids. 6. Increase the availability and decrease the cost of newly developed oral cancer-fighting drugs such as bio-pharmaceuticals. 7. Giving terminally ill patients the right to try medication that has not yet passed final FDA approval.

Gordon Fox, Ray Gallison, John Carnevale – these names, and the ethics issues surrounding them, continue to linger over Smith Hill. What would you say to constituents who have lost trust in their leadership?

I’ve worked very hard and supported the elimination of the master lever, campaign finance reform that mandates tighter reporting standards for candidates, elected officials and lobbyists, and have voted to support the constitutional amendment to restore Ethics Commission jurisdiction over the General Assembly. Furthermore, I support the disclosure of all criminal records and bankruptcies for any candidate that is seeking the public trust.

Tolling trucks as part of the RhodeWorks program has been a divisive issue in the state. Do you support the program and its tolling component?

I do. Rhode Island’s roads are the worst in the nation and need immediate repair. It is estimated that about 60 percent of trucks paying tolls will be from out of state, which means they are not otherwise supporting our infrastructure through taxes. For these reasons, almost every other state on the eastern seaboard already charges trucks tolls. The law prohibits tolls from being extended to any other vehicle other than through a statewide referendum.

House District 20

David A. Bennett

Democrat

Toll Gate High School; CCRI, Associates, Social Services and Education; Rhode Island College, BA psychology; R.N.

Psychiatric Registered Nurse

Community Organizations

American Nurses Assoc. Rhode Island Nurses Assoc. Sierra club, Norwood PTA, Apponaug Old Timers, Pontiac Village Assoc., Norwood Neighborhood Assoc. Trudeau Center, Greenwood Volunteer Fire Dept. and Museum, Warwick Museum of Arts, Warwick, Animal Shelter, Apponaug Girls Softball, Continental Little League.

What legislation would you sponsor should you be elected on November 8?

Elimination of taxes on needed feminine hygiene products, suicide prevention and resources on treatment of suicidal individuals, co-sponsor the elimination or reduction of car taxes. Increase the minimum wage.

Gordon Fox, Ray Gallison, John Carnevale – these names, and the ethics issues surrounding them, continue to linger over Smith Hill. What would you say to constituents who have lost trust in their leadership?

I was disappointed when I found out about the corruption of these individuals, it hurt not only the public’s trust but made non corrupt legislators look bad. I am proud to serve the people of Warwick and Rhode Island, I have been working directly with the public since I was 17 and continue to this day, my job strongly requires trust of my clients as well as their families. This is the reason I supported the reinstatement of Ethics Commission jurisdiction over the General Assembly.

Tolling trucks as part of the RhodeWorks program has been a divisive issue in the state. Do you support the program and its tolling component?

Rhode Island has some of the worst roads in the country, without action our state would continue to fall apart, bridges would collapse. We put a lot of construction workers and truck drivers back to work, Rhode Island closed a bridge to 18 wheeler truck drivers and imposed a $100.00 fine, the truck drivers still used the bridge and paid the fines. It is hard to put a price on safety and the large trucks damage our roads, we need to be a safe state with acceptable infrastructure.

Dan Elliott

Independent

Toll Gate High School; CCRI, A.S. in Business; Johnson & Wales University, B.S. in Hospitality Management

Landscaping business owner/operator

Community Organizations

N/A

What legislation would you sponsor should you be elected on November 8?

A majority of the voters have expressed anger and frustration with the car tax, and the never-ending increases in taxes and fees we all pay for government services. Working families cannot afford another two years of crushing taxes, debt, and increased fees. In my first term I will work to eliminate the car tax, and reform regulations and unfunded mandates. We must streamline our government to reinvent Rhode Island into an attractive place for businesses offering good paying jobs.

Gordon Fox, Ray Gallison, John Carnevale – these names, and the ethics issues surrounding them, continue to linger over Smith Hill. What would you say to constituents who have lost trust in their leadership?

We have a severe leadership deficit on Smith Hill, from the Governor to the Speaker and all his disgraced chairmen. The corrupt establishment at the State House is controlled by special interests engaging in pay to play politics. The hard-working taxpayers who receive the annual bill for these corrupt activities have been left out in the cold. If you’ve lost trust, as your incumbent voted to rubber stamp the leadership’s agenda that put Rhode Island in last place, I say you should vote him out.

Tolling trucks as part of the RhodeWorks program has been a divisive issue in the state. Do you support the program and its tolling component?

In contrast to my opponent who voted YES on tolls, I understand the long-term consequences of the tolls scheme. Taxing trucking businesses which deliver our goods to market means we will all pay higher retail prices. If this scheme proceeds, the state will face a lawsuit and ultimately all cars and trucks will be tolled. Our $9 billion state budget, with smart reforms, would allow for a comprehensive plan of road and bridge modernization. Let’s repeal the tolls and fix the roads within our budget.

House District 21

Andrew C. Knutton

Independent

House District 21

Bishop Hendricken High School; Marist College, B.A. in History and Education.

I have been employed as a Social Studies teacher by Coventry Public Schools since 2001.

Community Organizations

St. Kevin’s, Warwick North Little League, Warwick Firefighters Soccer Association, and the American Red Cross

What legislation would you sponsor should you be elected on November 8?

I would advocate for MULTI-YEAR budgeting in order to increase efficiency and become a forward thinking state; corporations and municipalities need long-term tax liability and financial information to be efficient. I would advocate for a RI Constitutional Convention, a fair school funding formula, elimination of the car tax, a police presence in every school, elimination of truck tolls, blocking Raimondo’s massive $8.96B budget, a line-item veto, ethics reform, and a consistent marijuana policy.

Gordon Fox, Ray Gallison, John Carnevale – these names, and the ethics issues surrounding them, continue to linger over Smith Hill. What would you say to constituents who have lost trust in their leadership?

Rhode Islanders are correct to have lost trust in their government. The government of RI has wronged its people repeatedly. The two party system breeds either gridlock or corruption. In the case of RI, it is wide spread corruption. The General Assembly needs strong independent voices to hold the majority party accountable. Past decisions have been horrible: 38 Studios, empty train stations, truck tolls, etc. I would stand up to the Speaker and the Governor when they force their corrupt agenda upon us.

Tolling trucks as part of the RhodeWorks program has been a divisive issue in the state. Do you support the program and its tolling component?

I do not support RhodeWorks because of the truck tolling component. I believe this legislation violates Article 1 Sec. 2 of the RI Constitution, “the burdens of the state ought to be fairly distributed among its citizens.” All the citizens of RI should help pay for the burden of infrastructure maintenance, not just trucks. RI would have more than enough money to pay for smooth roads and safe schools if we stopped making colossal mistakes and utilized an efficient MULTI-YEAR budget system.

Michael Penta

Republican

Warwick Public Schools and New England Institute of Technology

Small Business Owner. MC Renovations, Inc. and Gel’s Kitchen

Community Organizations

Fundraising for children with disabilities, B the Change and the Shriners. Past member of Warwick Rotary.

What legislation would you sponsor should you be elected on November 8?

If elected on November 8 I will sponsor legislation to provide greater assistance to those with disabilities and I will introduce legislation in support of amending our state constitution to impose term limits for members of the General Assembly. I will also sponsor legislation to create a single statewide teachers’ contract, elimination of the legislative grant program and legislation to provide much needed support and assistance for our military veterans and members of the armed services.

Gordon Fox, Ray Gallison, John Carnevale – these names, and the ethics issues surrounding them, continue to linger over Smith Hill. What would you say to constituents who have lost trust in their leadership?

I have found this to be one of the biggest issues of this year’s election. Elected officials must be held to the highest ethical standards and the actions of these individuals have tarnished the many honest and hardworking members of the General Assembly. If elected, I pledge to my constituents that I will perform my duties as a State Representative with honor and integrity and I will support complete revival of Ethics Commission oversight for members of the General Assembly.

Tolling trucks as part of the RhodeWorks program has been a divisive issue in the state. Do you support the program and its tolling component?

I absolutely do not support tolling trucks and if elected I will work to repeal this toll. Truck tolls are just another form of taxation that will be passed along to the hard working families of our state through increased prices on the many products that are delivered to our businesses by trucks each and every day. I am in agreement that our roads and bridges are in dire need of repair but funding can be found by scrutinizing the state budget line by line and eliminating wasteful spending.

Camille Vella-Wilkinson

Democrat

Long Island University, Bachelor of Arts: English and Psychology; URI, Master of Science: Labor Relations/Human Resources; Roger Williams School of Law, Juris Doctor

City Councilwoman; Career Coach; Mediator; Freelance Writer

Community Organizations

RI Commission for Human Rights RI Military Organization St. Benedict’s Daughters of Isabella American Legion Post 43 Warwick AARP Community Group Italo American Club Leadership RI Warwick Citizens Police Academy Alumni Assoc.

What legislation would you sponsor should you be elected on November 8?

Binding Arbitration for Teachers for parity with other municipal unions; Amending School Funding Formula; Pay Equity; Reduction and phase out of Car Tax; Increased State funding for school construction; End mandatory overtime for healthcare workers; Increase minimum wage; Warwick Home Rule Charter

Gordon Fox, Ray Gallison, John Carnevale – these names, and the ethics issues surrounding them, continue to linger over Smith Hill. What would you say to constituents who have lost trust in their leadership?

There will always be a small percentage of people who are susceptible to the corruption of power and no longer deserve the public trust. It is crucial to be a well-informed voter rather than voting on popularity. Our GA has moved in the right direction regarding public policy, ethics, greater transparency and personal accountability. All those elected in November must raise our hands and personally commit to the Oath of Office and not merely repeat it for a ceremony. I will certainly do my part.

Tolling trucks as part of the RhodeWorks program has been a divisive issue in the state. Do you support the program and its tolling component?

I absolutely support RhodeWorks. Investment in infrastructure has a multiplying effect: needed jobs in construction trades; increased attraction for new businesses; incentive for interstate commerce; boosting our economy. I am concerned about tolls as the funding source. The risk analysis was not performed by an outside agency and revenue projections are over optimistic. RI requires funding for complete life-cycle management and maintenance for long-term structure performance. More study is needed.

Michael Underwood

Independent

House District 21

Pilgrim High School; Cape Cod Community College (did not finish due to military transfer)

Honorably retired 23 year Coast Guard Veteran, Small Business owner/self employed @ M&L Home Improvement and Landscaping LLC

Community Organizations

I have donated time and materials to A Wish Come True, the Aldrich Jr. High Teacher Memorial Wall, and working with students in detention at Pilgrim High School.

What legislation would you sponsor should you be elected on November 8?

As your legislator I will listen to your views and concerns. The primary issues are (but not limited to): No tolls; end community and legislative grants; promote ethics reform; support the line item veto; ease business regulations; support for veterans; preserve Narragansett Bay

Gordon Fox, Ray Gallison, John Carnevale – these names, and the ethics issues surrounding them, continue to linger over Smith Hill. What would you say to constituents who have lost trust in their leadership?

As your representative I will bring an independent voice to getting and passing ethics legislation independent of the House and Senate that provides real reform to bring open and honest government back to our state.

Tolling trucks as part of the RhodeWorks program has been a divisive issue in the state. Do you support the program and its tolling component?

I do not support the tolling legislation. Rhode Island’s road and bridge infrastructure is rated the fourth highest in costs per mile but the forty-fifth worst in the nation. The Rhode Island General Assembly passed Governor Gina Raimondo’s RhodeWorks plan in thirteen days. Against the Industry opposition, with no public input. As your legislator I will listen to your views and work towards preventing tolls on cars. I will be an independent voice in the State House.

Elizabeth Kennedy Smith

Independent

House District 22

Bachelor’s Degree in U.S. History from Princeton University; Master’s Degree in Public Policy from The College of William and Mary

Homemaker

Community Organizations

St. Kevin’s Church, volunteer coach with Apponaug Girls’ Softball and Warwick Firefighters Soccer

What legislation would you sponsor should you be elected on November 8?

Line Item Veto, Repeal of truck tolls, end practice of Legislative Grants, make infrastructure improvements a more consistently and effectively funded area of current expenditure, remove needless regulations that prohibit the growth of business in our state.

Gordon Fox, Ray Gallison, John Carnevale – these names, and the ethics issues surrounding them, continue to linger over Smith Hill. What would you say to constituents who have lost trust in their leadership?

This is the primary motivator of my run; the corruption of a few on Smith Hill is sanctioned by the blind eye the rest of the legislators turn. This way of doing business hurts Rhode Islanders and I would seek to stand outside the entire umbrella of corruption, including the stand-by attitude of too many of our elected officials.

Tolling trucks as part of the RhodeWorks program has been a divisive issue in the state. Do you support the program and its tolling component?

I do not support the tolling component. As I said, though, I support a movement toward a more consistent approach to infrastructure.

Joseph J. Solomon Jr.

Democrat

House District 22

Bishop Hendricken High School; Providence College, B.S. Accounting; New England Law Boston- Juris Doctor

Business owner / Attorney (licensed in Rhode Island, Washington D.C., and Massachusetts)

Community Organizations

Save the Bay; Warwick Neck Improvement Association; Oakland Beach Association; Oakland Beach Volunteer Firefighters Association; Riverview Neighborhood Association; Sierra Club

What legislation would you sponsor should you be elected on November 8?

I will continue to introduce legislation that would create a Sales Tax Holiday Weekend to help stimulate our economy. I will reintroduce this bill along with bills to eliminate the car tax, protect our children and pets, and strengthen our ethics laws. We need to make sure RI is economically competitive for businesses and affordable for all Rhode Islanders to live and work. By improving our ethical climate and decreasing the regulatory burden on our small businesses, we can move RI forward.

Gordon Fox, Ray Gallison, John Carnevale – these names, and the ethics issues surrounding them, continue to linger over Smith Hill. What would you say to constituents who have lost trust in their leadership?

Two years ago, I pledged that I would fight for ethics reform. Since I was elected, I cosponsored a bill each year restoring the authority of the Ethics Commission over the General Assembly. I’m proud to say that we passed a bill restoring that authority. However, the battle to improve ethics is not over. By fighting for stronger ethics in our state, we will restore the confidence of the people in Rhode Island, attract businesses from outside of RI and expand businesses within RI.

Tolling trucks as part of the RhodeWorks program has been a divisive issue in the state. Do you support the program and its tolling component?

I do not support the tolling component as evidenced by my NO vote to the Rhode Works Program this year. I believe we need to rebuild our roads and bridges; however, we have not exhausted other funding possibilities to accomplish this. I voted against the Rhode Works Program for numerous reasons. First and foremost, I do not believe the program provided enough accountability and transparency. Secondly, I am concerned that the tolls will increase the costs of goods purchased by our taxpayers.

Joe Shekarchi

Democrat

House District 23

Mt. Saint Charles Academy; Suffolk University; Suffolk University Law School

Lawyer

Community Organizations

St. Kevin’s School Board

What legislation would you sponsor should you be elected on November 8?

Continue working on Jobs and Economy for Working Families of RI

Gordon Fox, Ray Gallison, John Carnevale – these names, and the ethics issues surrounding them, continue to linger over Smith Hill. What would you say to constituents who have lost trust in their leadership?

Not all elected officials are the same. Please judge me on my record.

Tolling trucks as part of the RhodeWorks program has been a divisive issue in the state. Do you support the program and its tolling component?

Yes so long as they do not toll cars in any way.

Stacia Huyler

Republican

House District 24

Ms. Huyler declined the opportunity respond to these questions

Evan Shanley

Democrat

House District 24

Toll Gate High School; Providence College; Catholic University Law School

I’m an attorney practicing workers’ compensation and employee benefits law at Gursky|Wiens, Attorneys at Law, Ltd., in North Kingstown.

Community Organizations

I’m a member of the Rhode Island Bar Association, where I participate in the Volunteer Lawyers Project, assisting low income individuals with legal services.

What legislation would you sponsor should you be elected on November 8?

I’d support legislation to improve the state’s economy and promote job creation. I want to work with teachers, administrators, RIDE and others on legislation to overhaul and improve our public education system. I’d like to help seniors by freezing retiree homestead property tax rates at age 65. I’d like to see legislation that would allow municipalities to work together to consolidate administrative services. Finally, I’d like to protect our Bay with stronger storm water management systems.

Gordon Fox, Ray Gallison, John Carnevale – these names, and the ethics issues surrounding them, continue to linger over Smith Hill. What would you say to constituents who have lost trust in their leadership?

Part of the reason I am running is because of my disgust with the behavior of some people on Smith Hill. So first, I’d say to join me in voting yes on Question 2 to restore Ethics Commission oversight at the General Assembly. Like my parents and grandparents, I’ve lived in Warwick just about all my life. I purchased my first home here, and my wife and I are expecting our first child in December. I’ve made a lifelong investment in this community, and will not sell you out or let you down.

Tolling trucks as part of the RhodeWorks program has been a divisive issue in the state. Do you support the program and its tolling component?

I strongly support the RhodeWorks program. Our roads and bridges are among the worst in the nation and are in desperate need of repair. The bridges on some roads, like the 6-10 connector, are flat out dangerous. With RhodeWorks we are fixing our bridges and roads some of the worst in the country without raising taxes. I was not a fan of the tolling component, but we can’t tax or borrow our way out of this problem. I personally would not support an extension to cars.

Ron Loparto

Independent

Senate District 29

Tolman High School; Operation Clean Government Graduate; Real Estate Sales and Broker Education

Retired Licensed and Bonded Real Estate Broker-Investor. Family Caregiver

Community Organizations

Supporter of Scouting-Gold Palm Eagle Scout. Life time member Order of Demolay. Member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

What legislation would you sponsor should you be elected on November 8?

Repeal RhodeWorks! Truck Tolls an eternal consumer tax on every man, woman and child against the will and vote of taxpayers and small business. Term limits, unlimited or extended time in office leads to unnecessary power. Our State House isn’t a retirement home for politicians, nor a source of job employment, appointments, medical, pensions, retirement for themselves or their extended families. No auto tax! Reduce corporate filing fee, needed to protect families, homes.

Gordon Fox, Ray Gallison, John Carnevale – these names, and the ethics issues surrounding them, continue to linger over Smith Hill. What would you say to constituents who have lost trust in their leadership?

I guarantee taxpayers & small business leadership, representation and Ability to Participate in your government. Don’t accept we’re the worst state in America with the worst economy, business climate & infrastructure! It’s not us. We have the worst state government. McCaffrey has taken Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars from Special Interest! I have taken no contributions! Elections can’t be bought! “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer but the right answer.” John F. Kennedy

Tolling trucks as part of the RhodeWorks program has been a divisive issue in the state. Do you support the program and its tolling component?

No. Truck Tolls will be repealed! RhodeWorks is an unjust consumer tax imposed on the hard-working taxpayers as a result of incumbent leadership’s “dereliction of duty” by failing to maintain the physical and fiscal well-being of our great state. Incumbent politicians gave away your hard-earned tax dollars for decades to friends and special interests and let the State of Rhode Island crumble. Now they want to steal billions of dollars from you without your vote.

Michael J. McCaffrey

Democrat

Senate District 29

Bishop Hendricken High School; Providence College, B.S. Accounting; Suffolk University, J.D.Law

Attorney at Law

Community Organizations

I am a member of the Conimicut Village Association, Warwick Knights of Columbus.

What legislation would you sponsor should you be elected on November 8?

My constituents say the three most important issues are education, jobs and taxes. I will sponsor and support this legislation: 1. Fight for increased aid for the Warwick School Department to improve the quality of education. 2. Continue to push for workforce training as the foundation of our Economic Development. 3. Seek an increase in the estate tax exemption, continue to reduce the minimum corporate tax, and expand the exemption for retirement income.

Gordon Fox, Ray Gallison, John Carnevale – these names, and the ethics issues surrounding them, continue to linger over Smith Hill. What would you say to constituents who have lost trust in their leadership?

“No one is above the law” as was proven by the resignation of President Nixon, and this applies to the State of Rhode Island, as well. Gordon Fox has already been convicted and sent to jail. Gallison and Carnevale are awaiting their day in court. If they are found guilty they should be sent to jail as well. There are many fine legislators that do great things for our state and the local communities. These legislators can be protected by following the reform ethic legislation I co-sponsored.

Tolling trucks as part of the RhodeWorks program has been a divisive issue in the state. Do you support the program and its tolling component?

The Federal Government had a program to pay the interest on bonds to repair the roads and bridges. The “large trucks” that travel on our roads for business create greater damage to our roads than passenger cars. With approval from the Federal Government for the tolls on “large trucks”, the income for the roads and bridge repairs was available. The legislation that passed had protection against passenger cars being tolled. I will fight tooth and nail to keep “no tolls on passenger cars” the law.

Jeanine Calkin

Democrat

Senate District 30

Johnston High School; Johnson & Wales University, B.S. Information Science; Bryant University, M.S. Information Systems

IT Project Management

Community Organizations

Rhode Island Progressive Democrats

What legislation would you sponsor should you be elected on November 8?

I would look to sponsor legislation to implement a $15 an hour minimum wage. I would also like to sponsor legislation that would promote green energy initiatives that would include the move to getting our public buildings powered by solar and wind energy. Other legislation I look forward to sponsoring/co-sponsoring or supporting include earned family leave, tax fairness and a health care public option.

Gordon Fox, Ray Gallison, John Carnevale – these names, and the ethics issues surrounding them, continue to linger over Smith Hill. What would you say to constituents who have lost trust in their leadership?

The citizens of Rhode Island have the right to hold their elected officials accountable, and I support question 2 on the RI ballot this year that will allow the RI Ethics Commission to investigate alleged misconduct. By casting their vote, Rhode Islanders are putting their faith and trust in us, and we must do all we can to earn that trust and prove that we are there to work for them.

Tolling trucks as part of the RhodeWorks program has been a divisive issue in the state. Do you support the program and its tolling component?

I spoke to many people in Warwick about this issue over the last few months. There is a lot of concern that some day tolls could be charged on cars - something I will fight hard to make sure doesn’t happen. Many are upset that our infrastructure is allowed to get into the condition it is in. We need to do a better job to find smarter ways to pay for the upkeep of our infrastructure, including ensuring that corporations that use our roads and bridges help pay to maintain them.

Erin Lynch Prata

Democrat

Senate District 31

Toll Gate High School, Boston College B.A. History, Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, J.D.

Self employed attorney

What legislation would you sponsor should you be elected on November 8?

I plan to continue my efforts to enact legislation that reduces regulatory burdens on small businesses. I will continue to work towards initiatives such as putting a statewide “Repealer” in place to recommend the repeal of outdated laws and regulations that hurt the business climate. I will resubmit legislation to create an early voting system in Rhode Island and continue to work to increase the minimum wage.

Gordon Fox, Ray Gallison, John Carnevale – these names, and the ethics issues surrounding them, continue to linger over Smith Hill. What would you say to constituents who have lost trust in their leadership?

I share the frustration of my constituents about the string of scandals at the State House. I work hard to represent my constituents with honesty and integrity, I have sponsored bills for lobbying reform have supported reforms such as the Ethics Commission amendment on the November ballot and campaign finance reform. These new laws increase transparency and accountability. I will continue working to reform our government into one about which all Rhode Islanders can be proud.

Tolling trucks as part of the RhodeWorks program has been a divisive issue in the state. Do you support the program and its tolling component?

Our roads are some of the worst in the nation. They need to be repaired. The Governor’s Rhode Works proposal fairly places the burden on the large trucks that cause a good portion of the damage, while putting into law a requirement that tolls cannot be extended to cars without voter approval. Every alternative proposal placed more of the burden onto the taxpayers in general, usually in increases in the gasoline or diesel tax, which I view as unacceptable.

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