Meet Jim Haldeman, Candidate for State Representative

Conventional wisdom holds that voters don’t pay much attention to city council endorsements. Here is an endorsement worth paying attention to: Jim Haldeman, candidate for State Representative in Rhode Island’s 35th district (South Kingstown), has received expressions of support from the city council and the mayor of Fallujah — as in Fallujah, Iraq.
Here’s a short snippet of Jim Haldeman’s biography(*) that explains why he is in a position to receive an unofficial but heartfelt endorsement from Iraq…

Jim volunteered for military duty in Iraq in 2005. He performed with distinction as the Civil-Military Operations Center (CMOC) Commander in Fallujah, Iraq. This position is amongst the most important and sensitive in Al-Anbar Province. During a seven month period from March — September 2005, he acted as principle representative of the U.S. led coalition in Fallujah, where his primary role was to build relations and establish the new government in Fallujah and surrounding areas…

I had the opportunity to put the following question to Mr. Haldeman: When it comes to working with government, you’ve done the toughest job in the toughest place in the world to do it. Why step into what, by comparison, is the Keystone Cops world of Rhode Island politics?
Mr. Haldeman began his answer by talking about his experience in Fallujah…
Going over to Fallujah was a rewarding experience for me.
I’ve done nothing more rewarding than go into a city of 250,000 who had been dealing with forty years of dictatorship and tyranny and change the lives of real people and develop a government by working with the people and building sincere and true friendships. That’s what I was supposed to do there, establish the human element of relations with as many of the Iraqi people as I could.
The other stuff got done. We had the Army Corps of engineers and all those kinds of people, but mine was a face-to-face mission, doin’ a lot of man-hugs and building human, personal relationships. I think I accomplished that.
I think politics is a philosophy of personal relationships. It’s how you deal with people. That’s my issue. I’m really fed up with Rhode Island politics, and that’s why I’m getting into it. That’s why I went to Fallujah. I wanted to find out what was really happening over in Iraq, and I found out. I can make a change here, just like I did there.
Next, he talked about a local concern that is part of the motivation for his run…
I think about the LaPlante Memorial Center. It is a center for the mentally handicapped. It deals with the whole gamut of mental retardation, from 6 month-old children to a group old enough to work. There are 130 clients there. 30 of them are in our community, working every day. They’re at Belmonts, at Shaws, at McDonalds.
You first walk into LaPlante and it breaks your heart; it tears at your soul to see them. But then you quickly realize the genuine dignity and pride that they have when they talk about working. The self-reliance and true dignity that these clients show when they talk about themselves is great. It is really inspiring to see that.
Now, LaPlante’s clients have every right to feel sorry for themselves. They are the people who should be using the government as their safety net. They don’t have to go out and work and yet they do. But as I was touring the facility, the manager of the place told me they’re on the chopping block to lose state funds. This just one case of the full-circle economic debacle that is hurting Rhode Island.
Mr. Haldeman then explained how the state legislature is failing the clients of the LaPlante Center and Rhode Islanders in general…
Here you have the people who are running the General Assembly, who are supposedly the advocates of taking care of the truly needy, 85% from one party. Are they talking about healthcare reform? Are they talking about pension reform? Are they talking about welfare reform? Are they talking about tax-reform?
On healthcare and pension reform, the legislature is not talking about simple economic reforms like increasing accountability and ownership. As a union member myself, I think union members deserve more options in their health care and pension benefits. A “one size fits all” approach does not serve the union member or the taxpayer well.
And instead of creating incentives for the most vulnerable of the working class to move down the rungs of the ladder and go on welfare, we should be providing incentives that help people move upward. But when you are a state that is allowing itself to be nearly last in business friendliness, it’s not going to happen. There’s no reason Rhode Island should be fourth in income tax, or sixth in tax-burden. We’re 48th in business friendliness, absolute last in establishing jobs and absolute last is moving people off of welfare and into jobs. Rhode Island keeps people up to 39 months on welfare.
Rhode Island now stands first in the country in having the most costly welfare system. This shows the General Assembly’s deficit in understanding basic economics. By not moving forward with welfare reform, the legislature, and not the Governor, is threatening the truly needy in Rhode Island. Governor Carcieri has shown great vision in trying to steer this state toward greater prosperity. The Governor understands that good job creation will build wealth in Rhode Island. This state’s real problem is that the legislature has created a hostile environment for potential job growth.
It’s a silly operation, it’s nonsensical, and it needs to be stopped right now, or we are doomed. We have got to change those statistics.
More to come…
(*) Note: Jim Haldeman had contemplated runnng for State Senate in Rhode Island’s 37th district, but recently decided to run for Representative in the 35th. His official campaign website will be updated soon to reflect this. In the 35th district, his opponent will be John Patrick Shanley.

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