EAST PROVIDENCE — The last in our series of campaign questions to the candidates seeking the Rhode Island State Senate seat from District 14 in the city leading up to the Tuesday, Sept. 11, Democratic primary went out this week. The following are the responses of incumbent Sen. Daniel DaPonte and challenger Rep. Roberto DaSilva:
The Post: Simply stated, why should voters elect you?
Sen. DaPonte: “I believe that I should be elected on September 11th because I have consistently put the interests of East Providence and its citizens first in whatever decisions I have faced during my time in the state house.
“I have not voted to protect my own interests nor that of my associates. I have not tried to deceive anyone when I have taken a stand. I have not tried to avoid taking positions because they would harm me politically.
“These difficult financial times require that whoever represents East Providence in any political office be strong enough and honest enough to do what is right rather than what they feel is popular. We don’t have the luxury of playing political games. We will never recover from this economic disaster we find ourselves trying to survive without the courage of our convictions.
“I have demonstrated that courage and will continue to do so with the support of the people of District 14.”
Rep. DaSilva: “I believe that I am the best candidate for Senate District 14 for many reasons. One is that during my two terms as State Representative, I did not forget where my primary responsibilities lay with serving the citizens of East Providence. In this capacity, I have demonstrated courage, compassion and leadership.
“Courage – I have stood and spoken against the state house democratic leadership whenever I thought it was the right action. Yes, I did vote against the Pension reform bill that was supported by the leadership because I believe that it was the wrong way to proceed. There were other alternatives that we did not consider. We never sat down with those directly affected – the members of the Employee Retirement System of Rhode Island, to try to achieve savings. The City of Providence negotiated with its pension system members and reached an agreement saving them millions without any expensive court challenge. One cannot say the same for the actions of the State Legislature last November. There have already been filed a number of expensive lawsuits challenging the pension reform bill. My opponent actually admitted that this reform was lacking and needed fixing at a recent League of Women Voter’s debate, validating my position. Unfortunately he did not have the courage to stand up to leadership and public sentiment to reach a real, court challenge proof remedy.
“I also stood against the leadership when I voted against eliminating the car tax reimbursement. This was direct tax relief to our residents. Leadership wanted to eliminate it to fund a tax break for the wealthy. I asked the question, “How can we eliminate tax relief for the poor and middle class while giving tax breaks to millionaires?” No one could answer. I decided that I wasn’t going to go along to get along and voted against state house leadership and higher car taxes. One of the many times I stood against the leaders of my party when I thought it would be in the best interest of my constituents.
“Compassion – I voted against cutting the funding for the Developmentally Disabled citizens two years ago. I believed that it was wrong to punish the most vulnerable of our society for the fiscal dilemma in which others had put our state. Giving the wealthiest citizens tax breaks, while taking away funding for other citizens is morally wrong, especially those citizens who are most vulnerable and in need of our compassion. Thankfully some of the funding has been restored but we need to ensure all funding is restored.
“Leadership – I introduced legislation to protect individuals from human trafficking and domestic violence. These members of our society have been overlooked for too long by our government, and their rights need to be protected. As a police officer, I have seen many situations where legal loopholes existed, and I felt that it was my responsibility to attempt to close them. The legislation was passed by the General Assembly, and we now have laws that will help stop the suffering of many of our fellow citizens.
“As a father of two young boys, I know the importance of quality education. Nowhere is this fact more evident than in kindergarten. That is why I co-sponsored legislation to have all-day kindergarten in our cities and towns. Educational research shows that an extensive all-day kindergarten program gives every student the educational advantage he/she deserves. Consequently, a well-educated citizenry means a lower crime rate and less government spending on prisons. Education is an investment in a better society and a better future.
“These are some of the reasons why the citizens of Rhode Island Senate District 14 should elect me on Primary Day, Tuesday, September 11th.”