Meet Jonathan Wheeler, Candidate For State Representative, District 22
This Tuesday, there will be a special election in House District 22 (Warwick) to fill the seat of former state Representative Peter Ginaitt, who resigned at the end of the 2007 session. Running as a Republican in the race is Jonathan Wheeler. Mr. Wheeler has juxtaposed at his campaign website a set of numbers he believes best summarize Rhode Island’s problems and the need for fresh soultions…
This past weekend, Anchor Rising had the opportunity to ask Mr. Wheeler about his run for office…
Anchor Rising: What’s motivating you to get involved with the unique challenges presented by Rhode Island politics?
Jonathan Wheeler: Another Democrat in the General Assembly is not going to fix the problems that Democrats have created over the last five decades. Until we get better balance in the General Assembly, until there are enough Republicans and like-minded Democrats to sustain a veto, and to occasionally stop the Democrats from doing things that right now there are no impediments from them doing, things are not going to change or improve.
AR: Everyone, except the Democrats in the General Assembly, seems to know that the state is facing a multi-hundred million dollar deficit…
JW: It’s $450 million.
AR: That’s the conservative estimate. What can be done?
JW: We need to control spending. Clearly, the Democrats in the General Assembly have made no effort to control spending. In the Providence Journal a few weeks ago, when they were talking about the deficit, they were laughing about it. There’s not a damn thing funny about it. We need to start over, with something close to zero-based budgeting. We need to make every government agency justify their existence and their budget. Until we do that, we cannot expect anything to change.
AR: You are in a three-way race. Any thoughts on the dynamics of that?
JW: There’s me, the Republican. There’s Frank Ferri, who won the Democratic primary but was unendorsed, and there’s Carlo Pisaturo, who’s running as an independent, and is a former Democratic councilman in Ward 5. So really, it’s me against two Democrats, because Carlo, although he is running as an independent, is a Democrat. He’s not refused to caucus with the Democrats; I asked him that during our debate – you’re running as an independent, who are you going to caucus with — and he wouldn’t commit. So he’s a Democrat.
AR: If you win, when you head up to the statehouse, would you take on a signature issue?
JW: At this point, we don’t have the luxury of any signature issues other than controlling spending and controlling taxes. The business climate here we all know is 50th out of 50. Rhode Island has the worst business climate in the country. Until we control spending, reduce taxes, and root out corruption, we are never going to attract business to this state. And until we attract business to this state, we’re never going to improve the economy. In my mind, to any responsible legislator, that can be their only signature issue right now.
We’re in a crisis, and everyone in the General Assembly — everyone in state government — needs that to be their most important thing.