EAST PROVIDENCE — The candidates seeking the Democratic nominations for the three spots at the State House up for grabs in next week’s primary election gathered Tuesday night, Sept. 4, at Weaver Library for a forum hosted by the Rhode Island League of Women Voters.
The event was well attended, drawing a standing room-only crowd to Weaver’s meeting room, though not much new ground in any of the campaigns was covered. Several of those who turned out for the event, in fact, were recognizable supporters of the candidates running for State Senate District 14, State Rep District 63 and Rep District 65. Most of the issues mentioned have been noted by various media outlets, including The East Providence Post, since the election began back in late June.
The much ballyhooed Senate 14 race between incumbent Finance Committee Chairman Daniel DaPonte and challenger Roberto DaSilva, the out-going Rep from Kent Heights, opened Tuesday’s forum.
The candidates continued their campaign-long feud, the two rehashing their disagreement on pension reform. Both did agree magistrates at the state level should go through the same nomination/approval process as judges, but took pot-shots at each other throughout their 30-minutes on the dais.
The House 63 race between Charlie Tsonos, Robert Britto, Sam Lovett and Katherine Kazarian was up next and much more low-key in tone. Asked about support of same-sex marriage, Mr. Britto said he would vote for the measure. Mr. Lovett and Mr. Kazarian said they were against school vouchers. Mr. Tsonos reaffirmed his pro-choice position when asked about his stance on abortion issues, while noting organizations like Planned Parenthood do much more for women’s health issues well beyond abortive procedures.
The House 65 race finished the evening, again with a very civil nature. Tim Chapman and Gregg Amore were in attendance. Jim Miller missed the occasion due to a previous commitment.
Of note, Mr. Amore, a long-time East Providence High School teacher, said he would like to serve on the Education Committee when asked about possible assignments at the State House. Mr. Chapman said he would like to join Finance. In addition, Mr. Chapman, referencing his Catholicism, said he favored restrictions on abortion. Mr. Amore, like Mr. Tsonos, reaffirmed his nuanced pro-choice stance. Mr. Amore suggested more emphasis should be placed on preventive measures.
The forum will be televised several times leading up to the Sept. 11 Primary Election. Cox Channel 17 and Verizon Channel 37 will show the forum Sept. 8 and 9 at 1 and 8 p.m. as well as Sept. 10 and 11 at noon and 8 p.m.