“I’ve been a Rhode Islander for over 20 years; since the year of the April Fool’s Blizzard. I came to Rhode Island to be the Quality Systems Engineer for Cherry Semiconductor, helping them develop a culture of continuous improvement. For the last 15 years I’ve published Rhode Island Roads Magazine, telling online readers around the world about this wondrous state with layer after layer of history, arts, culture, and industry.
“Thirteen years ago, I married my soulmate, Linda Eagleson, a woman from East Providence who has helped me discover even more about my home and what it means to belong to a place. For the last nine years, in addition to publishing Rhode Island Roads, I have been the Senior Quality Management Systems and Food Safety Specialist for Toray Plastics in North Kingstown.
“I am, by nature, a problem-solver. I’m an engineer, that’s what engineers do. We see a problem and we need to fix it. It doesn’t matter if the problem is important like reducing the use of toxic chemicals or something as trivial as how napkins are folded at a restaurant; we are compelled to fix problems.
“Like you, I am aggravated by long waiting lines at the DMV, the fact that construction of a single bridge may take 10 years or longer, and that bureaucracy and paperwork has gotten so complex that it’s often easier just to give up and not even try to improve our lives. I’m not the kind of person who can just sit back and complain about problems, I need to jump in and lend a hand.
“The office of Lieutenant Governor is one of those problems. Bob Healey was right, the position, as it has been used so far, is a waste of the taxpayers’ money. We budget a million dollars a year for the Lieutenant Governor and his staff, a position that the Rhode Island Constitution gives no authority and no responsibility except to fill in for the Governor.
“Until now, the role of Lieutenant Governor has been treated as a place to park some favored member of the ruling political party, giving him a no-show job and an extra four years toward his pension. Bob Healey thought the best solution to the problem was to eliminate the position. My solution is to use the role of Lieutenant Governor as an internal consultant, change agent, and problem solver, to make that million dollars a year do some good for the state.
“I’ve made a career of fixing problems by building consensus, removing obstacles, and empowering people to improve processes. I’m facilitative — I help others succeed. I know that I don’t have the answers; instead it is the people who know the processes inside and out are the ones who know how to make government work for Rhode Island. They need to be given permission, given confidence, and given the tools needed to fix our government. The position of Lieutenant Governor is perfect for a facilitative problem solver to make a difference.
“I am proud to say that I’ve never held an elected public office, never been on an official commission or task force, and never actively campaigned for myself or anyone else. This state has never had a shortage of politicians. If the problems in our government could be solved by politicians, we wouldn’t have problems. . We don’t need politicians to solve the problems caused by politics, we need someone who can bring fresh eyes, fresh methods, and are not bound by politics to do things the same old way.
“I invite you to join me in making Rhode Island government work for the people of Rhode Island.”
Many things that get Rhode Islanders fired up are social questions, definitely worth discussing and reaching an informed and reasoned consensus, but not within the scope of Lieutenant Governor. Many others are federal questions, also not typically something that a Lieutenant Governor would be involved with.
Here are a few issues that keep coming up. More will be added over time.
Establishing Term limits is a Band-Aid that does not address the serious problem that incumbents can develop such strong institutional support that it becomes very very difficult to bring in fresh blood. Term limits eliminates personal accountability for politicians and creates every reason to never get around to addressing serious problems, instead just pushing things off onto the next batch of politicians. And those politicians will, of course, do the same thing. Countries that have implemented term limits for legislators have moved power from individual politicians who can, with effort, be unseated and moves the power to the political parties and king makers. I do not support term limits and encourage everyone to vote out corrupt and ineffective politicians.
Governor/Lt. Governor Joint Ticket
Dan McKee suggested a constitutional change that would elect the Governor and Lt. Governor on a joint ticket. This is a step backwards from the elimination of the master lever. It reduces choice for the voters and increases the power of the major political parties. It also turns the role of Lieutenant Governor from its present purely administrative function and makes it a policy-making position. If Dan McKee wants to run as a joint ticket with a particular gubernatorial candidate, there is nothing to prevent tying their campaigns closely together and announcing to the world to vote for both of them or neither of them. I do not support McKee’s suggestion.
Tolls that are used solely to maintain the roads that are being tolled put the expense of a government service directly on the people receiving the service. This is the ideal for any government service that does not benefit everyone equally. But Rhode Island government has repeatedly proven that it never met a funding source it didn’t love. Based on history, we have every reason to expect that the money raised will tremendously benefit a preferred private business, with most of the remainder funneled into the general treasury and spent on everything except improving the roads being tolled. I strongly oppose tolls on RI roadways.
In 2016, Dan McKee was given responsibility for preparing the state’s municipalities for the future, with a focus on consolidation. The goal of consolidation is cost savings, but it comes with the loss of jobs and local control of their schools, fire, and police functions. The cost savings is worth investigating, but it needs to be facilitated, not directed, where cooperation between the municipalities leads to efficiencies and savings. I support measures that make consolidation easier to achieve, but I do not support forcing it on the towns.
I believe that the term “sanctuary city” is too broad for rational discussion of how to address the interaction between state and local authorities with people who have not complied with our immigration laws. Broken down into more rational segments – I do not support the preposterous position that the state should hunt down everyone in the state who is in violation of immigration laws and I don’t believe that very many people would support such actions. I do not support checking the citizenship status of crime victims, since that will make a group of people easy prey to criminals. I do not support checking citizenship status of people who have minor traffic violations, since that would create incentives to flee and create dangerous situations on the roads. I fully support the expulsion of felons who are not legal citizens.
More coming. Send in your most burning issues.