The Democrat who has represented District 67 at the Statehouse since 1998 said he has lived locally for a long time, paid property taxes for a long time, and owned a business in the East Bay for a long time, and therefore has shown his commitment to constituents in his district.
“I’m here. I have a store here. I have a house here. I have everything invested here,” he said. “I’m an average person … and that’s what I represent, the average person.”
Rep. Malik said he’s not so sure his challenger, Republican Peter Costa, can offer voters the same reassurance. Rep. Malik said Mr. Costa does not pay property taxes, does not own a home in the East Bay and may not stay here after he graduates from Roger Williams University law school.
“That’s ridiculous,” said Mr. Costa, in response.
“I’m a lifelong resident of Barrington, I attended Barrington schools from K through grade 12. I am currently on the Park and Recreation Commission … I have a strong commitment to the town’s natural environment. I have shown a very strong commitment to this town,” he said, adding that his decision to attend Roger Williams University law school showed his commitment to Rhode Island.
“My actions versus Jan Malik’s words show what I’m all about.”
Mr. Costa also said that he pays plenty of taxes as a resident of Barrington, specifically citing the state’s sales tax. He added that the property taxes Rep. Malik mentioned are part of the big problem with this state.
“He’s had years to reform the property taxes but he hasn’t done anything,” Mr. Costa said, adding that Bristol County’s property tax burden is one of the worst in the nation.
“For him to say that shows he has a complete misperception of what needs to be done in this state.”
When asked specifically if he planned to remain in Rhode Island after law school, Mr. Costa said: “I’m taking it two years at a time.”
Rep. Malik said he stands to lose more than his Republican challenger and therefore takes his legislative votes very seriously.
“I’ve got a business here,” he said, referencing his liquor store in Warren. “I have more to lose. What does he have to lose? At 22, does he pay any property taxes in the town of Barrington? Common sense will tell you that if you have something invested you’ll go up there and fight harder for it.”
Mr. Costa said the numbers tell otherwise.
He said Rep. Malik may own a small business in this state, but his votes do not support small business. He pointed to the legislative rankings compiled by the National Federation of Independent Business in 2007 and 2008. That group, which regularly ranks lawmakers’ votes on bills where the NFIB had an official position, ranked Rep. Malik tied for last in the percentage of bills he supported for the 2007-08 legislative session.
“He has it all wrong and he’s had it all wrong for 16 years,” Mr. Costa said.