Election 2012: East Providence-Barrington House hopefuls discuss duplication, same-sex marriage

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EAST PROVIDENCE — The East Providence Post’s weekly coverage of Election 2012 returns to the three races now set for seats in the General Assembly — House Districts 63, 65 and 66. The seven candidates were presented with two questions, one on a fiscal issue and the other on a social matter. Their responses were limited to 200 words and were not edited for content.
The Post: Question 1: In an effort to control spending, please offer an example of duplication of effort at the state level and how would you go about making the proper changes? Question 2: The topic of same-sex marriage is expected to be a hot-button issue at the forefront of the 2013 Assembly agenda. Where do stand on the matter and why?
District 63
1. Katherine Kazarian, Democratic candidate: “Given the economic and budget circumstances that we are living through, it is nearly impossible to simply point at any one specific area of our government that needs to be completely eliminated. Yet, as I walk the neighborhood, I hear many people complain about government excess. It is my view that everything has the potential to be updated and, perhaps, consolidated in order to reduce government spending. If elected, I plan to explore this avenue further in order to best serve our taxpayers.”
2. KK: “Roger Williams founded Rhode Island in 1636 upon a philosophy of freedom and tolerance. With the unique and inspirational history of our state in mind, I am proud to say that I do support marriage equality.”
1. David Sullivan, Independent candidate: “The best way to eliminate duplication of effort on the state level would be to hire a private, non connected company to do an internal audit of every state agency.. Eliminating wasteful spending would require some honest open debate with the public sector special interests. Considering the political landscape and one party domination nowadays it seems that an audit of this sort might be a stretch. I personally believe that elimination wasteful spending on every level should have been a precursor to the pension reform just passed. We now have career politicians boasting about all the pension reforms passed to score political points in this election year. I personally wouldn’t brag about just having hacked into a pension that an employee was legally entitled to. Perhaps a real intensive audit in social services and government pay outs and elimination duplication of effort would have saved a whole lot of pension funding!”
2. DS: “Same sex marriage has complexities to it. Why do people say don’t discuss politics and religion?.I believe they are linked.We have laws against murder. The bible teaches us ‘thou shalt not murder.’ Religion for the most part teaches one to be moral. Most would agree good governance should be moral and fair. I had to ask myself, who started the institution of marriage? Was it God or man? If it was God, should it be redefined? If it was man then why has it taken so long to become a hot button topic? Those in favor argue that tax laws and health care laws discriminate. I would support changing these laws so people are not treated differently based on sexual preference through civil union legislation.
“I’m told by some that Gordon Fox our openly gay Speaker of the House is going to personally see to it that same sex marriage comes up for a floor vote next session. Politics of distraction? Is he trying to deflect the attention away from himself after having just wasted 112 million or so on the 38 Studios disaster? At the end of the day if my fellow Rhode Islanders demand same sex legislation then let every voter have a voice. Make it a referendum ballot vote!”
District 65
1. Gregg Amore, Democratic candidate: “Helping to alleviate some of East Providence’s financial stress through legislation aimed at cutting costs and eliminating duplicative services should be a priority for the entire East Providence legislative delegation. Along those lines, I would propose a state-wide teachers health insurance plan that would place all Rhode Island public school teachers into one insurance pool. The size of that pool will create significant leverage in negotiating the best possible terms and will save cities like East Providence hundreds of thousands of dollars in health insurance costs. I would also support an administrative regionalization of the state’s public schools. It is also important to continue efforts to streamline the regulatory and record keeping process through the use of advanced data technologies that both simplify access and eliminate duplicative clerical services.”
2. GA: “I support marriage equality. I believe this is a civil rights issue that must be legislated as such. I would support protection for religious institutions from legal action in regard to the use/rental of their facilities as to protect religious liberty and conscience but I consider the state issued marriage license to be separate from the religious rite. I see no evidence to support the notion that marriage equality diminishes traditional marriage or somehow weakens our society. Government should always promote the expansion of individual liberty, tolerance, privacy rights and the pursuit of happiness. Marriage equality legislation meets that standard.”
1. Joe Botelho, Moderate candidate: “Leaders of a number of RI government watchdog and reform groups have called the State Ethics Commission, ‘a toothless body lacking the tools needed to fight corrupt public officials.’ Operation Clean Government is also on the record relating to The Irons Decision stating that ‘the July 1, 2007 decision handed down by the Rhode Island Supreme Court in favor of Mr. Irons has effectively rendered the Ethics Commission powerless.’
“Since the budget for the ethics commission as listed by the Secretary of State’s website is $1.5 million, and the general assembly has decided to regulate itself in response to these decisions, I would propose one of two solutions. 1.) Eliminate the powerless ethics commission thus saving the taxpayers $1.5 million dollars or 2.) Enact legislation giving it the power it needs to root out conflicts and corrupt politicians, which is what I favor.
“This point is also important in that my opponent, if elected, would be sitting in a seat of legislative authority over the state appointed budget commission in East Providence, which will be negotiating a contract with the union he is a member of as an EP employee. If that’s a conflict, who would decide?”
2. JB: “If two people, regardless of their sex are happy together while being productive members of society I believe that’s a good thing. For this reason I am not opposed to same sex marriage.”
District 66
1. Fred Diel, Republican candidate: “In an effort to control spending, please offer an example of duplication of effort at the state level and how would you go about making the proper changes?
As I am neither a State Employee nor a current legislative member, I am not privy to the depth that each agency supports itself.
“The issue for the General Assembly to look at now and what it should have been looking at in the past is the issue of consolidation of services and better utilization of resources. Services like janitorial and Information Technology, which everyone needs today, should be looked at to see if there could be savings made by finding common ground such as vendors used and software purchased. My question for the Governor would be: Is there a State Standard in place whereby all departments use the same software for common tasks? Standardization would drive down costs, increase employee productivity and departmental interoperability. It would decrease the knowledge base required by support staff. This would help slow the growth of taxes required from the taxpayer.
“Other items to review are agency maintenance of common grounds and vehicles. Is there one common entity for these functions or does each State agency have their own little fiefdom? The listed items are the low hanging fruit the General Assembly can and should get their hands around. More complex issues to review would be the services offered to the Citizens of the State.”
2. FD: “The topic of same-sex marriage is expected to be a hot-button issue at the forefront of the 2013 Assembly agenda. Where do stand on the matter and why?
The issue of same-sex marriage is an emotional issue for both sides of the debate. It is unfortunate that Speaker Fox has listed this as a priority while the State’s economy, unemployment, State and local budgets and taxes, and pensions are in chaos and crisis.
“For the past two millenniums, marriage has been defined by all religions as between a man and a woman. It has become a government issue as people allowed the government to get involved with marriage by licensing it, charging fees for it, and then providing benefits because of it. The government has once again divided the Citizens by creating classes for benefits where it should not have.
“As a State’s Rights person and Constitutionalist, I am against any government dictating to the religions, as the United States was founded on religious freedom, not freedom from religion, how any religion should view marriage. I would not support any legislation that redefines marriage for the purpose of providing benefits. If the General Assembly were to take this on, where would that leave companions such as two sisters or two brothers or two best friends? Are we not creating yet another class of citizenry that is being excluded?”
1. Joy Hearn, Democratic incumbent: “In an effort to control spending, please offer an example of duplication of effort at the state level and how would you go about making the proper changes? As a member of the House Finance Committee, I have seen firsthand the fiscal challenges the state has faced within this lengthened recession. Every budget has had to contain significant cuts to programs and elimination of services in order to avoid increasing taxes. I have worked diligently to focus the budget process on structural budget reforms and working to see a smaller government. The Rhode Island Fiscal Year 1991 state budget listed 72 state agencies and departments. The recently enacted Rhode Island FY2013 budget that I worked on as a member of House Finance contained 38 state agencies. This session I supported legislation that would abolish the office of higher education administration in 2014 and move to an executive committee of the three higher education universities, with the goal of maximizing efficiencies. I would take those efforts a step further and merge the back- office operations at the three institutions, from purchasing and personnel to enrollment functions, into one consolidated office. It would allow for large savings in purchasing as well as allowing students one portal for contacting and enrolling at our colleges. I would propose these changes as a piece of legislation that would be included in the 2014 State Budget.”
2. JH: “The topic of same-sex marriage is expected to be a hot-button issue at the forefront of the 2013 Assembly agenda. Where do stand on the matter and why? I supported the Marriage Equality Act legislation introduced in 2011 and I plan to support it if re-elected in November. I support this legislation because I believe that all Rhode Islanders should be respected and treated equally. The Civil Union legislation that was enacted fell short of treating all Rhode Island families equally and provided cumbersome legal challenges in its language. It is time for Rhode Island to move forward on this legislation and join our neighboring states in recognizing all families in a safe, legal and equal manner.”
1. Eugene Saveory, Indepedent House 66 candidate: “I have traveled a great deal through out the country as a former project and process engineering manager and have spent small amounts of time in many cites and towns is many states. I often wondered how they managed both municipal and educational districts that were almost the size of the state of Rhode Island. We have 39 cites and towns in the state, with 32 school districts. Most of the facilities I worked at were in the suburban area of the major cites and most services ie: police, fire, public works, water and education were controlled at a county level. I know that total regionalization of the above services in this state by county; especially on the education side of a budget is a long way off. I would support and submit bills that would allow the smaller towns to consolidate the municipal side of there services ie: police, fire, public works etc. even if it is at an administrative level. The education side is more complex. I would support and submit bills that would allow the towns to combine the administrate end of the school systems and still have the opportunity to maintain their identities. This is were the top salaries are for sure not with teachers. The cost savings could be least a couple of million dollars.”
2. ES: “I believe that marriage is that of a man and woman. One of the basis of civilization has we know today is the marriage of a man and a woman. I believe we live in a great age and in a country that protects all the rights of the people. Rhode Island law allows for same gender individuals to form a union/partnership. I have the utmost respect of their union/partnership as I have the utmost respect for the commitment of a man and woman in marriage. I am not against legislation that will protect the rights for equal opportunity for this group and all the people. I do have a concern about redefining the meaning of marriage, as stated earlier I believe marriage is that of a man and woman.”

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