Peter Costa Jr. is offering this pledge to future constituents: If he’s elected to the District 67 seat in the House of Representatives, he will not miss more than 20 votes.
“You really shouldn’t miss more than 20, or you should quit,” Mr. Costa said, “because that means you can’t do what the people are sending you there to do. If you’re missing more than 20 votes you need to step down.”
Mr. Costa’s pledged was in direct response to the voting record of incumbent Jan Malik, who has filled the District 67 (Barrington and Warren) seat since 1998. Mr. Costa, a Republican, said Rep. Malik, a Democrat, has missed too many votes, including a few that have been very important to his Barrington constituents.
Rep. Malik was quick to respond to the accusation.
“Maybe he’s young enough not to get sick,” Rep. Malik said of Mr. Costa, who just recently graduated from college and is currently enrolled in Roger Williams University law school. “God forbid someone in his family passes away. He’s going to miss a funeral to go there (the Statehouse)? Is that what people want? He can’t make statements like that.
“He’s pinpointed one year where I had an issue. What, he wants a Rep. to step aside because of a health issue?
“What happens if there’s a death in the family? What, does he live in a make-believe world? Nobody does not miss votes. Look from top to bottom.”
Rep. Malik said his voting record and attendance record have been strong, except for in 2010 and 2011. He said he suffered a heart attack in 2010 and still had an attendance record of about 86 percent and voted on 78 percent of the bills that came before the assembly.
In 2011, Rep. Malik said he missed three days of voting during a busy portion of the session because his blood pressure “shot up” and his doctor had ordered him not to attend. His voting mark dropped to about 59 percent.
“That’s the only thing that’s got a blemish…. I wish I could have attended, but I couldn’t because of health reasons,” he said.
Mr. Costa said he scrolled through the voting records at the General Assembly and found that Rep. Malik missed 355 votes in 2011, which he said was the second most missed votes for any representative.
“It’s really indicative of a larger problem. Some people stop working hard. That’s what I see here. It’s a pattern …” he said. “In 2004 he (Rep. Malik) didn’t vote on the affordable housing mandate. That’s an enormous vote for the people of Barrington, and where was he?
“The people of Barrington didn’t have a voice on the floor when that vote was taken. You can’t justify not showing up. It’s the most basic duty of a legislator … If you don’t show up you’re not doing your job,” he said. “He didn’t even vote on the budget (in 2011). He didn’t vote on the 38 Studios bill. These are the big bills that he missed. It’s the most basic fundamental duty of a legislator.”
Rep. Malik said the affordable housing bill was hardly a close call, and even if he had voted against it, the bill still would have passed.
“In the house 67 percent voted for it and zero voted against it. I know the other (Barrington) Rep., Sue Story, voted for it. On the Senate side, 36 voted for it. David Bates voted for it. I have no idea why I didn’t vote on it. I could have been the one no vote and what would that have meant? I wasn’t there for the vote, but you had a Rep. from Barrington and Dave Bates voting for it. If you’re going to throw stones for missing the vote, you better go after your own party first,” Rep. Malik said. (Ms. Story and Sen. Bates are both Republicans.)
Mr. Costa said Rep. Malik appeared to be at the Statehouse the day the affordable housing bill was taken — he noticed other votes Rep. Malik had cast that day. Rep. Malik said he was not sure why did not vote on the bill and could not remember what exactly he was doing on that day, 8 years ago.
“I could have been in committee that day,” he said.
Rep. Malik’s record
Following is a closer look at the attendance and voting records of Rep. Jan Malik (D-Dist. 67, Barrington and Warren). The Democrat, who provided this information, is running against Republican challenger Peter Costa, Jr.
Year Attendance Votes
1998 93 percent 94.1 percent
1999 100 88.1
2000 100 84.5
2001 98.5 85.4
2002 98.2 83.3
2003 100 90.7
2004 100 90.7
2005 98.6 80.8
2006 95.7 86.3
2007 96.9 93.4
2008 90.6 87.1
2009 90.6 98.9
2010 86.2 78.1
2011 91 59.6
2012 92.1 95.4