September 1, 2016

My complete responses to the "What makes me a Democrat," and "What to do about tourism?" questions

In another installment of helping to educate voters on the differences between me and my opponents, I provide you with my complete responses to the paper, since print editions are so limited in space.

"What makes you a Democrat?"

I have always been deeply committed to social and economic justice, the notion that all people deserve opportunities to succeed and that we all share responsibility for the preservation of our environment and natural resources. It is why I proudly supported and advocated for marriage equality and why I now fight for commonsense gun legislation, like disarming convicted domestic abusers and keeping guns out of our schools.
I believe that we can achieve a society where we nurture our children, where Main Streets thrive, where we live healthy lives and where we are responsible stewards of the environment, and that government has a role in effecting change. That’s why I have been an ardent supporter of increased transit and making our communities more walkable and bikeable. Designing our public spaces to accommodate pedestrians and promote transit use not only reduce carbon emissions, improve quality of life and reduce healthcare costs, but they also drive foot traffic to local businesses helping their bottom line. 
My vision of economic justice is why I worked so hard to institute combined reporting – which closed loopholes so big businesses now pay their fair share, just like our small business owners have always done. Just because you can afford fancy accountants, doesn't mean you should be able to shift the burden on the smaller guy.
These are just a few examples of how we can rebalance the parts of our systems that have gotten out of whack over the years to go a long way toward closing income gaps, investing in infrastructure, protecting the environment and creating real opportunities for all. I firmly believe in the progressive vision that we can build thriving communities, and that decision-makers bear responsibility to explore innovative paths and turning those visions into reality. 

"What can you, along with your fellow officials in the General Assembly, can do to help support tourism in Rhode Island?"

From the beginning, I was skeptical of the Governor's proposal to run a statewide campaign for tourism, and I opposed those efforts during hearings in House Finance. The Commerce Corporation was a brand new entity, and had taken on many complex programs all at once, and it seemed too big a risk to take money that was proven as being well-invested locally on an unproven department with no plan in place. I am sad to say, I was right. The rollout was a debacle, and we all know the details. This year's budget restored the local funding, as I originally advocated for, and there is now a special House commission working on providing careful oversight of the effort to promote tourism statewide. This commission is helping to prevent some of the missteps that occurred during the hastily assembled rollout of the campaign. South County has a unique identity and truly is a treasure that tourists can enjoy with ease. This commission is doggedly working to make sure our “brand” is well-established and effectively promoted as diverse to the many who would enjoy vacationing here, using well-researched methods and with measurement of the results. As a member of the House Finance Committee, which crafts the state budget, and as a representative of a district where tourism has a profound effect on our local economy, I will continue to effectively advocate for the state resources that are necessary to support its promotion. I believe Rhode Island can greatly benefit from investing in the promotion of our many assets and attractions, but that we must be diligent to make sure the best part- South County, is not lost in the mix, and that our local voice is a prominent one moving forward.