Barrington politicians debate State Rep.’s voting record

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Incumbent State Rep. Joy Hearn believes her voting record is something that differentiates her candidacy from others looking to represent District 66 in the state House of Representatives.

One of Rep. Hearn’s challengers, Republican Manfred Diel Jr., agrees, though for a much different reason.

In a pair of recent interviews, the two Barrington residents both pointed to Rep. Hearn’s voting history.

Rep. Hearn said she has been “effective” for the entirety of Dist. 66, which includes about half of Barrington along with a portion of Riverside. Rep. Hearn said her record “speaks for itself,” specifically referencing her role as co-sponsor of legislation that lead to a statewide education funding formula.

Subsequent implementation of the formula has brought millions in additional state aid to both the Barrington and East Providence school districts.

Mr. Diel, however, doesn’t view Rep. Hearn’s record in the same light. When asked about Rep. Hearn’s efforts to implement the statewide education funding formula, Mr. Diel criticized his opponent for supporting tax increases in previous state budgets along with those contained within the state’s current budget. Overall, Mr. Diel stated he believes taxes are “too high.”

“I believe in honor, courage and commitment. Lowering our taxes is the biggest thing for me,” Mr. Diel said.

“There’s a lot of middle class people in Barrington and the rest of Dist. 66 whose views have not actually been put forth through the General Assembly.”

Rep. Hearn also said she took a “strong stand” on pension reform and her seat on the House of Representatives Finance Committee is a “strong indicator” that she is a hard worker and is willing to make tough decisions. Rep. Hearn, who has served approximately four years in office, served on house finance during her current term.

Rep. Hearn said her spot on house finance allowed her to ensure that the funding formula initiative she co-sponsored was maintained in both last year’s and this year’s budget.

Economy

One point of agreement between the two candidates was what they view as one of the campaign’s most important issues — jobs and the economy.

Mr. Diel referenced statistics such as the Rhode Island’s high unemployment rate and its nationally low ranking as a business friendly state. He also noted Rhode Island’s decades-long stint under a largely democratic General Assembly.

“I’m a straight commission salesman,” Mr. Diel said.

“I deal with manufacturers and I see how many people are getting laid off, how many jobs are being lost. I think it’s time for somebody that has business experience to turn around the economy.”

Rep. Hearn said she has been going door-to-door and has found a reoccurring theme among constituents.

“I think we’re still struggling in Rhode Island. It’s jobs, jobs, jobs. Trying to figure out ways in which we can structure government to help get jobs to Rhode Island and keep jobs in Rhode Island,” said Rep. Hearn, who added that with her background and willingness to be a team player she can help government and private sector work towards a consensus on methods of improving the state’s economic condition.

Independent Dist. 66 candidate Eugene Saveory, of Riverside, had not returned a request for comment as of this report.

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