2016-10-27 / Opinion

Forum for the People

Due to the numerous letters we have received in the weeks leading up to the election, we are once again dedicating this space–typically reserved for our own opinions–to the letter-writers, who clearly have a lot to say. Your efforts this week totaled nearly 20 letters, presented an array of opinions (no surprise) and covered four pages of Newport This Week “real estate,” versus the usual one. That, in itself, proves the power of the pen. We are now in overflow mode; if your letter does not run this week, it may appear in next week’s edition (Nov. 3); and if not there, we may post it online.

A Person of Integrity

To the Editor: Despite the rhetoric and negativity that has characterized the elections at the national level, we have a candidate in Middletown that is the definition of what I expect from our elected officials, Sen. Lou Di- Palma. He is a person of integrity with an incredible work ethic. As a parent, I see him at every event I attend due to his devotion to our community. As someone who often has an opinion, he always listens and immediately responds to my calls or emails.

Sen. DiPalma has focused on fighting for the issue I care most about, our children. His positive energy and tenacious commitment to our town has earned my support and my vote on Nov. 8.

Kristin Brennan

Candidate Statement

To the Editor: It has been an honor and privilege to serve on the City Council for 10 years. I would like to continue to serve in order to apply the knowledge and insight I have acquired during that period.

I believe my approach to government has uniquely benefited the Council. I endeavor to responsibly question and challenge assumptions, and to encourage the council, and the city manager, to consider alternative approaches. I believe I have had a positive impact on how the council acts by developing a comprehensive understanding of issues and critically analyzing proposals. I would like to continue providing this leadership for two more years.

We must continue to invest in infrastructure; maintain robust and cost-effective service delivery systems; control and constrain municipal and school costs; and aggressively pursue cost-savings. We also need to continuously improve the processes­that we use: strategic planning, communications, business and community relationships, and ordinances are areas that require regular review to ensure they are the robust tools we need to serve you.

In addition, I plan to focus on the following areas in the future: families (schools, jobs, and housing issues); homestead exemption implementation; economic development projects; and addressing flooding (coastal and neighborhood).

I will be honored if you allow me to continue to serve. I respectfully ask for your vote on Nov. 8.

Justin McLaughlin
Newport City Council

Yes on Question 7

To the Editor: Would you vote for a proposal that invests in the construction of 800 homes and apartments that Rhode Island workers, families, seniors and veterans can afford? That would create 1,700 good-paying jobs for Rhode Island’s building and construction workers, and help employers attract and retain a strong workforce? That would restore the state’s blighted and foreclosed property eyesores and spark revitalization in neighborhood across the state? That would leverage an additional $160 million in federal and private investment in our communities?

A “yes” vote on Question 7 on Nov. 8 will approve a $50 million Housing Opportunity bond that will do all that and more. Come hear all about it on Tuesday, Nov. 1, at the Seamen’s Institute, at 6:30 p.m.

Judy K. Jones

An Educated Voter is Our Democracy's Best Citizen

To the Editor: This month The Alliance for a Livable Newport (ALN) was pleased to continue its tradition of providing Newport's voters with valuable information in helping them determine which candidates they will support in the November local elections. ALN’s public forums featured local candidates running for elected municipal seats: At- Large City Council, School Committee and Ward Council. Although many of the faces in the audience were familiar, there were also new attendees, curious to hear questions and answers in person. In addition to the forums, candidates also completed online questionnaires, answering a different set of questions. There is now plenty of information available for voters to review on the ALN website at newportalliance.org, with videos of the three forums and candidate answers to the questionnaires.

We refuse to believe the Newport urban legend: “People go to vote in the national election then see names on the ballot for local office. Having no clue who these people are, they just pick the most interesting names.” What a contrast our local forums are to the current national debates! Attentive, civil audiences listened as candidates answered challenging questions.

This year Newport voters have a real choice – six candidates for four At-Large City Councilor seats and 12 candidates for seven School Committee seats. It’s worth doing one’s homework on these candidates, all of whom are civic-minded and courageous enough to run for public office. They deserve our thanks and consideration.

The forums and the questionnaires resulted from the collaborative efforts of ALN associates Ron Becker, Isabel Griffith, John Hirschboeck, Tom Hockaday and Chip Leakas. Questions asked at the forums and in the questionnaires were developed from suggestions received from ALN members and subscribers. ALN received support from the Rhode Island League of Women Voters, with League officers (President Jane Koster, First Vice President Jill Kassis, and Second Vice President Susan Wells) serving as forum moderators and with a generous grant from the Rhode Island League of Women Voters Education Fund.

ALN is proud to continue serving Newport's residents and businesses as an unbiased resource for information on key issues and local events. Your support is most appreciated.

"To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain."

Ron Becker, Isabel Griffith,
and John Hirschboeck,
Alliance for a Livable Newport

How Well Have Our Incumbents Led?

To the Editor: Driving over the Newport and Jamestown bridges always reminds me of what a special place our islands really are. I have often used "paradise" to describe it. In many ways, living in the magnificence of this area shields us all from the reality of the crises that face Rhode Island.

We elect our legislators to represent us on Capitol Hill and to look out for our towns’ interests. That said, these leaders have a much more ominous job, which is to protect, sustain and grow our state. If Rhode Island is not fiscally solvent, it will have a far greater negative impact on our cities and towns than anything our legislators could ever do directly for the district they represent. So, how well have our incumbents led?

The foundation for any state economy is the health of its business community. When Gov. Raimondo delivered her inaugural address in January 2015, she stated the following: “ … In just the last year, we've had the highest unemployment rate in the country for nine straight months. We've been 49th among states where companies want to do business.” Sobering!

Also, Rhode Island is one of two states losing population, one of two sanctuary states, has one of the most generous welfare programs, its capital city is essentially bankrupt, and headlines of corruption continue to lace our media news.

There does not seem to be any appetite for a change in Rhode Island’s culture from its leadership as they continue to look for new sources of revenue, such as tolls and gambling, to feed their insatiable appetite to spend, rather than run a more efficient and business-friendly run government. Our state budget continues to grow every year, and is now set at $9B, which represents nearly twice the per capita spending of New Hampshire.

Rhode Island’s reality must be placed squarely at the feet of leadership, and especially on the heads of those leaders who have held high legislative positions for any length of time. In our district, this points squarely at Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed. First elected to the Senate in 1992, and Senate president in 2008, she has done little to move the Rhode Island competitive needle.

Her “tenured” position is buoyed by spreading around monies from legislative grants to endear her to local voters by throwing them a few bones in order to deflect their thinking from the more serious strategic issues that face Rhode Island. Regarding other area incumbents, over the last session Rep. Lauren Carson voted with leadership 99.2 percent of the time, Rep. Marvin Abney 98.2 percent and Rep. Deb Ruggiero 87.7 percent. When you consider the report card of Rhode Island’s reality, senior leaders are not getting the job done, and their flock is following right behind them.

Rhode Island is on life support! If you care about the health of our state and the health of our cities and towns, consider these facts when you walk into the voting booth next month. How well have our incumbents really led?

Larry Girouard

Keep DiPalma in Senate

To the Editor: Nov. 8 provides an opportunity for many in our community to cast votes. While some may express frustration with various candidates, there is one candidate more than deserving of our support. Sen. Lou DiPalma provides voters with an opportunity to vote for a candidate with courage and integrity.

Lou is willing to put in the hard work. He has demonstrated his willingness to dig in to the data behind every decision he makes. He does his research and studies issues from all sides before committing.

He has led and worked on a number of good government efforts, including sponsoring ethics reform, removal of the master lever, and lobbying reform. Lou has also been a voice for conservative and fiscally responsible budgets and is a leader on both the Senate Finance Committee (first Vice Chair) and the Senate Education Committee. He has supported income tax relief for our seniors and working families and cut unemployment taxes.

However, the biggest strength Lou brings is his hard work and commitment to making our community and our state better for all of our residents and businesses. He is available and often attends community functions. He listens first and is dedicated to putting in the hours to make a difference. I am thankful that we have someone of Lou’s character and leadership abilities serving our state. Please take the time to vote on Nov. 8th and return Lou to the Senate.

Joseph Pratt

Ruggiero's Accomplishments

To the Editor: Eight years ago Deb Ruggiero came to talk to my husband and me as she was making a decision about running for the General Assembly.

We talked for a long time, but almost immediately it became clear that Deb would be a great legislator, with a lot of knowledge about government, a clear voice, and a passion to make the state work better.

Four terms later, Deb has a record of accomplishments, benefiting the whole state, that her constituents in Middletown and Jamestown can be proud of. Her work on renewable energy has made Rhode Island an environmental leader and generated thousands of "green" jobs. Her work on the Education Committee created legislation protecting schoolchildren from bullying. On the Finance Committee she helped to craft the state's budget. She has worked hard to support small businesses. Currently a Deputy Majority Leader, she also chairs the Small Business Committee and the Subcommittee on Environment and Transportation.

With a record of accomplishments, Deb is deeply committed to issues her constituents care about and is willing to fight for them. I am looking forward once more to voting for Deb Ruggiero.

Gladys B. Lavine

Who is Lauren Carson?

To the Editor: Lauren Carson and I first worked together as members of Newport’s Charter Review Commission in 2014. In the early spring of that year, she came to me and said, “I want to run for Peter Martin’s seat in the General Assembly; what do you think?”

“Gob smacked! Why do you want to do that?” I asked her. “I love Newport and I think we are not treated fairly in Providence. I can change that,” said Lauren. And, we were off with the campaign! She won House District 75 as a Democrat without the support of the local or state Democratic Party.

True to her word, she did what she said she would. Rhode Island House District 75 is beginning to have some real influence in state government because of Lauren’s clear platform and her ability to make our voices heard in Providence. How could a novice politician and freshman Assembly member make this happen? Lauren is smart and savvy. She quickly figured out how to convert Newport’s importance to the state of Rhode Island into the power to get things done for our city. We, her constituents, are seeing the benefits.

What makes Lauren a successful representative for District 75? She has a knack for being in the right place at the right time in Providence. She has the pragmatic approach of someone who is able to assess a problem and see how to solve it. She is confident, hard working, independent-minded, professional and appropriately “pushy.” She knows everyone and they certainly know her.

Is she lovable? No. Lauren is not “warm and fuzzy.” She is admired for her integrity, straight talk, and amazing drive and energy. A loyal, devoted team supports her – I am one of them. Now in my 78th year, I don’t have time for nonsense.

Who is Lauren Carson? She is my candidate for House District 75.

Isabel Griffith
Treasurer, Friends of Lauren Carson,
Democratic Candidate for House
District 75

Nice Play by Florez

To the Editor: I am writing on behalf of the residents of 77 Thames St. (Units A – G) and 79 Thames St. to express sincere thanks to the Newport City Council, in particular for the efforts of Councilor John Florez, for erecting a right field net at Cardines Field. Since moving to 77 Thames in 2001, I have, along with fellow residents and neighbors, been inundated by hundreds of baseballs hit over the right field fence, predominantly by the Newport Gulls. The safety issues to ourselves and our children, as well as thousands of dollars in damage to our homes, windows, and cars each year were indeed immensely angering.

Recognizing the historical significance of Cardines Field as well as the important social and economic role the Newport Gulls play within the community, none of us wanted baseball to stop, but for the city to continue to allow such a high-caliber team as the Gulls to continue playing at the field without protecting the surrounding residents from damage and injury was not only wrong, but a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Despite our years of pleas to erect a net, damage reports filed with the police, and thousands and thousands of dollars in property damage, the Parks & Recreation Department, city manager, and City Council refused to see this as a serious issue–that is, until John Florez came along. His willingness to personally visit our properties to see and witness the damage and our serious concern for personal safety firsthand was a welcome and responsive change. A few months after his visit, the Council approved and budgeted funds for netting and it was finally erected. While Councilor Florez can be certain of our support, the timing of this letter should not be viewed as an election year endorsement, but an overdue recognition of his significant efforts.

Thank you, John, and the entire 2016 Newport City Council.

Jonathan Chapman

Moving Forward

To the Editor: A good education is everything to a community. It defines it as a special place, creates a level of energy that generally excites families to seek residence in that community, and, above all, generates a reputation and a sense of pride that becomes a beacon statewide. Simply, people want to live there, put down roots and send their children to schools they respect, trust and honor!

The Newport public schools are not fully there yet, despite their many significant attributes. However, this year’s School Committee election is populated with some new candidates who, I believe, understand the way forward.

Ray Gomes, Adrienne Haylor, and Hank Kniskern are these new candidates. But they are certainly not “new” in their extensive educational and organizational experience, their knowledge of the Newport public schools or, more importantly, a dedicated trust and commitment to a collaborative approach in educational planning and schooling. For example, Haylor and Kniskern have personally collaborated as volunteers on key elements in the development of the most recent strategic plan which Kniskern has taken the lead in composing. Meanwhile, Gomes is on record as one similarly committed to strategic planning and implementation which, in fact, was much in evidence during his many years of active participation in our schools as a parent volunteer and leader. All three are impressive and worthy candidates and we are fortunate they are willing to step up and serve our children.

Please look for them in the following ballot positions as candidates for School Committee: Ray Gomes #5, Adrienne Haylor #7, and Henry “Hank” Kniskern #9. You’ll be glad you did!

Dave Wixted

Casino Benefits Host Community

To the Editor: I am writing to you about the upcoming election. In November voters will have the opportunity to approve a casino in Tiverton, Rhode Island.

I have been employed at Newport Grand casino for 40 years. I am the president of UAW Local 7770, representing the workers at Newport Grand. Many of the workers have longevity here. Our ages range from 21 to 77. This is a business that holds no age discrimination. If you want to work full-time, there is plenty of work. If you want part-time, that works too. With our jobs come high-quality benefits. We have medical, dental and eye care coverage. We enjoy paid vacations and sick leave. We have life insurance. We have 401(k)s that they generously participate in.

And yes, casino workers do make a living wage.

We have a great security force. Our security officers are either active or retired local and state police and highly regarded in their fields. By law it is required that an EMT is on duty all operating hours. This is not a burden on the taxpayers. These jobs are completely paid for by the company. This company is highly regulated by the state of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Lottery.

Since Twin Rivers took over, the company has honored everything that workers had with the original owners. I have met with Chairman of the Board John Taylor. I will tell you truly, he is a gentleman and a man of his word. He wanted to make sure that we, the workers, were comfortable with the new owners. If he says that he’ll do something, consider it done.

We have found that Tiverton voters are very receptive to learning more about having a casino in their town. They understand how important having a job with benefits is. They understand and look forward to tax relief in their town. They understand how much money gaming produces for our state budget and the host community.

We, the current workers, look forward to this transition and the hundreds of new jobs this casino and hotel will create. So I ask Rhode Island voters to vote YES on Question 1 statewide (as I will) and Tiverton voters: Please vote also on Question 8.

Cathy Rayner
President UAW Local 7770

RI Question 2 on Ethics Reform

To the Editor: This letter is intended to alert Rhode Island voters to a source of confusion that could affect voting on a ballot issue in the November election. I’ve recently become aware of TV ads to vote “yes” or “no” on Question 2 on the ballot. On more careful listening, I realized that most of these ads apply to Question 2 on the Massachusetts ballot, pertaining to a totally different issue from Rhode Island Question 2, relating to ethics reform. The Massachusetts ads are playing on Providence stations because those stations serve residents in southeastern Massachusetts, as well as those of us in Rhode Island, but Rhode Island voters must listen carefully, since the ads are not urging them to vote against ethics reform. Rhode Island Question 2 would amend the Rhode Island constitution to restore ethics commission oversight over conflicts of interest of General Assembly members, a power the commission lost when the court ruled that the “speech and debate” clause of the constitution protected legislators from such oversight.

There is no intent to mislead in these ads. It’s merely a consequence of our geographical location. Regardless of their stand on the Rhode Island Question 2, voters should beware of being influenced by an ad that they may not have heard clearly, and that is totally unrelated to the issue they’ll be voting on.

Beth P. Milham

Newcomers Stand Against Gambling

To the Editor:

Jamie Bova is living our shared local dream. Graduating from both Middletown High School and URI, Jamie worked hard to find a steady, well paid job as an engineer at NUWC. She feels fortunate to work here and bought a home in the place she loves most. Jamie is bright, energetic, appreciative, and determined to create good, stable jobs for all Newporters, a cleaner, greener Newport, and increase transparency and efficiency in government. Jamie also understands how technologies can improve both outcomes and communication, and supports investing in the North End and the Innovation Hub.

As president of Citizens Concerned About Casino Gambling, I am pleased that both newcomers Jamie Bova and Susan Taylor have signed pledges to stand against gambling expansion in Newport and protect every municipality's constitutional right to deny it. I hope Newport voters will also remember City Councilors Florez, McLaughlin, and Leonard stood firmly against gambling interests in 2014, because they always come back to roll the dice one more time.

Liz Taber, President
Citizens Concerned About
Casino Gambling

Create Robust Public /Private Partnerships

To the Editor:

It used to be that many Rhode Island youth were able to save money for college or help their families make ends meet while gaining valuable work skills by finding after-school or summer jobs. But these days, those types of jobs are few and far between.

Many young workers have gained little work experience before attempting to enter the workforce as adults. Employers often report that young workers tend to lack the basic skills, professionalism and work ethic necessary to do a job well. We need to address this problem head-on locally and at the state level and create pathways for young people to enter the workforce.

With recent increases in the minimum wage and an uncertain economy, employers have become more reluctant to hire young workers who lack on-the-job training. By creating more robust teen job training and apprenticeship programs with pathways to careers, enacting a teen minimum wage for after-school and summer jobs in certain fields, and establishing internship and mentoring programs, we could help young workers gain valuable experience and save money for college, while also giving local employers an incentive to hire young workers.

But the problem with a lack of employment opportunities in Rhode Island does not end with high school students. Even college graduates have trouble finding work. As a result, too many of Rhode Island's brightest minds have to leave the state for better opportunities elsewhere.

Uncompetitive tax rates and a host of fees and redundant, confusing and job-killing regulations have prevented business from developing in our state and job growth has stalled. We can prepare new generations for the future with innovation and funding to development programs and apprenticeships, but we need to fix our economic climate along with it.

As an educator, I believe in creating stronger partnerships between institutions of higher education and employers, incentivizing the creation and expansion of robust co-op and internship programs where students can be matched with established businesses that are looking to bring new people into the workforce. I will also work to create new mentoring programs where youth entering the workplace can learn from seniors who are leaving the field or have retired.

The classroom-to-careers program could also provide startup companies with a "feeder system" for talent that would provide students and recent grads with valuable on-the-job training and an opportunity to grow their careers with new, innovative companies. Companies of all sizes could be eligible for tax credits in exchange for their participation in the program, making Rhode Island a more attractive place to find new talent and expand their workforce. Participating students or recent grads could also be eligible for a state tax break to help them pay off student loans and living expenses early in their careers.

This is a win-win situation for young workers and businesses of all sizes in Rhode Island. I look forward to making this a top priority and working with officials and business leaders of all political stripes to make this happen to prepare new generations for careers that keep Rhode Island vibrant and play to our natural advantages. I respectfully ask for your vote on Nov. 8 so that together we can improve the employment situation for our young people.

Rebecca Schiff
Candidate for State Representative
District 74, Middletown

Republicans Delivered for Town

To the Editor:

Two recent letters in local news publications by Portsmouth residents James Banks and Town Council Candidate Lenard Katzman vilify performance of the 2010- 2012 Portsmouth Republican Town Council. These two gentlemen may be unaware of that Council’s accomplishments. I proudly served with that Republican majority of Keith Hamilton, Liz Pedro, Paul Kesson and Judi Staven. Together we pulled Portsmouth government, then mired in 1960s, small town era of rampant cronyism, public corruption, poor management and disregard for the Town Charter into the 21st century. I would like to see a comparable record of a Democrat Council.

Among other things, we:

Stopped habitual overspending of department budgets and midyear town budget increases;

Rebuilt the fund balance to a never before seen $4,866,838;

Initiated replacement of line firefighter dispatchers with less costly civilians;

Initiated reforms to eliminate insolvency threat of $52M unfunded pension liability;

Committed to protect the Glen for future generations

Established municipal/school departments initiative to consolidate non-educational services;

Replaced Democrats’ environmental legal counsel to challenge RIDEM sewer demand;

Conducted a professional search and hired an experienced, highly regarded new Town Administrator;

Engaged Portsmouth’s first labor attorney to consult/represent the Administration and taxpayers on collective bargaining issues/agreements;

Initiated operational audits of all Town Departments

Accommodated annual road maintenance in the operating budget

Conducted first ever, yet Charter required, Town Administrator Performance Review;

Established first 5-year Capital Improvement Plan and annual budgeting for Town infrastructure projects;

Conducted first residential mosquito control spray in 25 years;

Implemented Town-wide emergency, resident communications system

Lowered tax levy increases from 3.74 percent to 3.2 percent then 2.3 percent despite economy driven decline in Town and State revenues.

This is the performance of a Republican led Portsmouth Town Council. Our work is unfinished. Voters who appreciate the 2010- 2012 Council record should vote for Republican Town Council candidates Paul Kesson, Liz Pedro, Keith Hamilton, Larry Fitzmorris and Tom Vadney, and Debra Cardoza.

Joe Robicheau

Vote for Excellence Times Three

To the Editor:

An energetic educator, an engaged parent, and an electrical engineer: Three new faces in Newport's political arena who are ready to bring needed professional out-of-the-box thinking to our city’s policymaking tables.

Newport has suffered from decades of dodging Massachusettsstyle transformation. Current leadership has allowed thousands of our children to fail academically. Millions have been wasted on inefficient schemes and poorly planned projects. Voters finally have excellent choices this election season. First-hand experience plus project-management talent, speaking out for long-overdue academic and civic reform.

Three talented daughters of Aquidneck Island have stepped up to make a difference. Adrienne Haylor, Jennifer Jackson, and Jamie Bova each offer unique perspectives, and are bonded by their willingness to bolster our community by championing change. Having lived and worked in other states, they bring home enriched viewpoints and the dedication to improve outcomes for all Newport’s citizens.

Let’s put their skills to work for our city. Adrienne, Jennifer, and Jamie know what it takes to push the needle forward and ignite sparks that will propel our community toward a more resilient, 21st century year-round economy.

Cast your vote for triple the excellence. Elect Haylor and Jackson to Newport’s School Committee, and Bova to the City Council on Nov. 8.

Beth Cullen

Misguided Playbook

To the Editor:

It's so like the Portsmouth Democrats: They boycott election debate after election debate and deny the voters of Portsmouth and the East Bay information important to them in making informed decisions in the voting booth. And they blame it on Portsmouth Concerned Citizens (PCC) and the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, which serve as unbiased citizen advocates and are recognized as such.

Seems as if their approach is a bit misguided, what's seemingly good for them, not the voter!

It would appear as if the Portsmouth Democrats are not quite the organization they would like us to believe they are.

What are they afraid of?

You may wish to consider the Republicans this time around.

Joe Lorenz, Chairman
Portsmouth Republican Party

Some Diversity, Please!

To the Editor:

Our General Assembly is dominated by Democratic politicians. My concern is that this lack of balance facilitates poor judgment, lack of initiative, and inside secret-keeping. Not because these individuals are Democrats, but because they are essentially a monopoly. Diversity may be the path to more fiscal wisdom and ethical behavior. Mike Smith (Newport District 75) is an Independent with conservative leanings, but generally compatible with my liberal views. I agree with Mike on these issues:

1. Restore the Ethics Commission. Vote yes on Question 2 with Mike.

2. Rhode Island is in or near the bottom ranking in business tax climate. Mike Smith is focused on efforts to improve our business and financial standing so we can create year-round employment.

3. With sustained attention and a consistent strategy, we can achieve a model like the Massachusetts Miracle for our public schools. And public charter schools can offer more opportunities.

4. The revelation of legislative grants was so disappointing and disillusioning – it’s buying votes and loyalty. Mike Smith is campaigning with and for District 75 only. He is truly an Independent

5. Mike wants term limits. Great idea! If we vote for the same Assembly members every year, there’s only the same static result. We need change.

I am looking for statesmen and stateswomen in Rhode Island government, not politicians. I am voting for Mike because I believe diversity at the Statehouse will improve outcomes for all of Rhode Island and for us here in southern Aquidneck Island, District 75. Wouldn’t it be encouraging to see our island become both a tourist attraction AND a place of year-round business with job opportunities for ourselves, our friends, and our children? Let’s help our state and community be all we deserve and need. Vote!

Demetra “Nickie” Kates

Mendonça Knows Defense Industry

To the Editor:

The local defense industry is vitally important to all of us who live in Middletown and Portsmouth. Ken Mendonça, candidate for the Rhode Island Statehouse from the 72nd District, which includes large portions of these towns, is a highly qualified candidate to assure the ongoing health of this key business sector, which benefits us all in one way or another.

According to a 2014 Rhode Island Economy Planning Commission study, the defense industry contributes $3.7 billion to the state’s economy and accounts for nearly 33,000 jobs. It generated $1.9 billion in income and $105 million in tax revenues for the state. Defense also pays the highest salaries in Rhode Island.

Clearly the money spent by and taxes collected from people, businesses and the military in the defense sector benefit virtually everyone in Middletown and Portsmouth in one way or another. Therefore it is critically important to keep this industry healthy and growing.

I have worked with Ken for 25 years in the defense industry and he has a thorough understanding of the local defense industry. He also possesses the right characteristics to be a successful politician. He is hard-working, knowledgeable, trustworthy and loyal. He is a lifelong resident of the East Bay and earned a master’s in business administration from Salve Regina University.

Ken Mendonça’s top legislative priority is improving our current business climate, which will reduce or solve many of the state’s problems, including the need for more and better jobs and lower taxes.

A vote for Ken Mendonça on Nov. 8 will help create more business growth, job opportunities and a better quality of life for all of us.

For more information, see electkenri.com.

Robert "Rocky" Reeves

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