7 Assembly Debates I Want To See
I enjoyed watching the first two debates on Newsmakers. The first, between Senator DaPonte and Rep. DaSilva where I’m still trying to figure out whose pay grade it was that should have known about the $75M being intended for 38 Studios. If it wasn’t the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, then who?
Then this week on Newsmakers, we saw another interesting debate between Rep. Peter Petrarca and challenger Greg Costantino. We got to see all kinds of things from an allegation of voter fraud by one of the candidates to the utterance of “ravioli people” by one of the panelists.
These debates got me thinking, which other debates would I like to see? Some would be pre-primary, some are after and some are dependent on one candidate surviving their primary. Here’s what I got.
First, I think both heads of their respective chambers should be on the spot to answer questions. Let’s start with those.
House District 4: Speaker Gordon Fox (D) vs. Mark Binder (D). Chances are you know who Gordon Fox is. He’s the current Speaker of the House, completing his first full term as the Speaker. Many feel the Speaker is the most powerful politician in the state and nothing political happens without the Speaker’s approval. Yet when he was questioned about the 38 Studios deal, the best he could offer was “I don’t know.” His opponent, Democrat Mark Binder shares many of the same progressive values as the Speaker but it seems one the areas he’d like to talk with the Speaker about and get answers on is 38 Studios. I’m confident Fox is a very skilled orator, but can he bring the substance behind it? I’d like to find out.
Senate District 13: President Teresa Paiva-Weed (D) vs. Geoffrey Cook (R). This is Cook’s second shot at the seat as he also challenged the Senate President two years ago. Cook is a naturalized US citizen who followed the legal steps to become an American. One of Cook’s major beefs with Paiva-Weed is her opposition to eVerify. Paiva-Weed might have some other things that voters could be interested to hear including her thoughts on the likely outcome if Speaker Fox does get a same-sex marriage bill passed in his chamber and passes it on to the Senate. Much of the talk is that Paiva-Weed is one of the major players blocking the bill. Is she?
House District 35: Rep. Spencer Dickinson (D) vs. James Haldeman (R). The incumbent Dickinson is just finishing up his second go-around in the Assembly and would first need to survive a primary with fellow Democrat Kathleen Fogarty. He first served in the 1970’s and was re-elected just two years ago. One of the bills that Dickinson became known for was to require towns to put in escrow the amount of money that they would have to pay if the state’s pension reform bill is struck down by the courts. Haldeman, a Republican, was well-received for a column that he wrote about his candidacy in GoLocalProv where he cited his reasons for running. Among them, to represent the entire district and not just a select few. These two seem pretty far apart on the ideological spectrum and I think getting them together for a discussion could get some sparks flying.
House District 49: Lisa Baldelli-Hunt (D) vs. The Field (D&I). Ok, I admit it, the main reason I chose this race was so Ted Nesi can sit across the table from all the candidates and ask one by one, “Do you think I’m cute?” Seriously though, some in Woonsocket are not happy with the way their state delegation handled the fiscal situation and want to replace various members, including Baldelli-Hunt. She is facing two other Democrats in a primary and then the winner will take on the independent Michael Moniz. I would like to see this debate to hear how the contenders would have handled the situation differently and helped Woonsocket avoid the budget commission, as well as how they see the Assembly helping Woonsocket stay fiscally viable.
Senate District 3: Maryellen Butke (D) vs. Gayle Goldin (D). Incumbent Rhoda Perry decided to not run for re-election, so this is an open seat. Maybe this would be the debate for all the policy wonks. Goldin runs the Women’s Policy Institute and is an officer at the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island. Butke is the former executive director of the Rhode Island Campaign for Achievement (RI-CAN). The focus of RI-CAN was to find new ways to improve public education in the state. Maybe these two would not exactly be the best two for contrasting each other’s stances on issues, but it’d be great to hear what each of them will do to improve the state from within the State Senate.
Senate District 7: Senator Frank Ciccone (D) vs. Catherine Graziano (I). This one’s easy. In spite of Graziano telling Ted Nesi back in April that she would not run again, she is. In that same article, Graziano is “shocked” by Ciccone’s attempt to intimidate police a few months ago as he tried to get fellow Senator Dominic Ruggerio out of a DUI on the side of the road. There’s no question that Ciccone apparently has union backing, so it could be interesting to probe deeper into that and who he truly serves in the Senate. And has he learned his lesson with regard to throwing his status around.
Senate District 16: Elizabeth Crowley (D) vs. Nicholas Gelfuso (M). Crowley needs to first survive a primary with Central Falls’ former police chief, Joseph Moran III. That in itself could be a debate I’d like to see. In various articles through the whole Central Falls bankruptcy issue, I’d often see Crowley and Moran arguing the same side against the Receiver, Robert Flanders. I’m not sure why Moran feels he needs to unseat Crowley. However, I’d like to see how a Moderate party member would discuss these issues and how he would have handled the financial situation in Central Falls. Another question is whether they both support that idea the state’s taxpayers should still be fully funding the Central Falls school district. What do they see themselves being able to do at the State House to further help the city get back on its feet financially?
Those are my picks. Are there others you’d like to see? Add them to the comments section.