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The race is on for the District 71 House seat

Independent Nathan Melvin, Democrat Michelle McGaw, and Republican Amy Veri outline why they are the right fit for Portsmouth, Tiverton and Little Compton

By Kristen Ray
Posted 10/23/20

With election day less than two weeks away on Nov. 3, the race for a seat at the State House is nearing its end for District 71 candidates Michelle McGaw (D), Amy Veri (R) and Nathan Melvin (I). …

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The race is on for the District 71 House seat

Independent Nathan Melvin, Democrat Michelle McGaw, and Republican Amy Veri outline why they are the right fit for Portsmouth, Tiverton and Little Compton


With election day less than two weeks away on Nov. 3, the race for a seat at the State House is nearing its end for District 71 candidates Michelle McGaw (D), Amy Veri (R) and Nathan Melvin (I). Here’s a look at each candidate — and why each of them believes they are the right voice to represent Portsmouth, Tiverton and Little Compton. 

Nathan Melvin, Tiverton

‘Living by his values’

His priorities 

• Taxation: Property taxes are on average per county 1.35 percent. I will be looking to lower that tax percentage and freeze any late fee penalties for a short time. I will also look to pass a flat tax such as Massachusetts. By doing this, the families of Rhode Island that are reeling from this COVID-19 pandemic can have some lasting financial relief. I will have state-run organizations audited and by the Attorney General's office to misappropriate taxpayer dollars while having accountability to the people.

Education: Every parent deserves school choice for their children. This educational situation is a central issue that affects so many families in our state. Our children deserve a proper education and should not be penalized just because of where they live.

COVID-19: I will address this state's Covid-19 health response to the crisis. One death is too many, and as a governing entity, we can do much more for our families' safety.

Abortion: I will address the Reproduction Act of 2019. This bill allows for abortions up to the point of birth without legal repercussions. This bill was so extreme that Rhode Island is currently ranked No. 2 in the country, only second to New York for passing such a law. 

Infrastructure: Our infrastructure is in shambles and needs immediate attention. This is a safety concern that puts the state citizens and those who travel into our state in danger. From bridge and overpass failures but from neglected roads that are so bad, Rhode Island is considered a red level state as it pertains to damage on motor vehicles, costing consumers unneeded repair expenses and lowering the average resale values because of this issue.

His background 

Mr. Melvin is a decorated disabled war veteran having served overseas in war zones and humanitarian aid missions with the 82nd Airborne Division and 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). Through his service, he has earned over a dozen medals, including the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal (4th Award), Army Achievement Medal (5th Award), USA/USAF Presidential Unit Citation, Army Good Conduct Medal (3rd Award), and National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

His promise

I live my life through the values that I learned serving our country: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and courage. I am not running to be a politician but a statesman for the people. If elected, I will donate my salary to non-profit organizations in Rhode Island. I am not running for the money; I am running to be a voice and a positive change for the people.

Michelle McGaw, Portsmouth

‘A voice for the people, not the well-connected’

Her priorities 

Legislative reform: I will advocate for processes and systems that elevate the voices of the people of Rhode Island and that will make it simpler for them to participate. This would include a more democratic process to determine which bills are heard in committee and voted on. This would also include more comprehensive access to information about which bills our legislators have signed onto, and how they voted.

Healthcare: As a pharmacist with 30 years of healthcare experience, I have witnessed the challenges of our systems from the inside out. I want to work towards healthcare policies that make healthcare accessible and affordable for our elders, our disabled community and for all of our families. The pandemic has highlighted how precarious it can be when our healthcare is tied to our jobs.

Climate/environment: I will advocate for clean energy initiatives and a shift away from the energy sources of the past that are contributing to our changing climate. I will work to ensure that Rhode Islanders have access to cleaner water and cleaner air, and I recognize the important ties between healthcare and climate. Investing in renewable energy can provide a boost to our economy and create good paying jobs, but we need to be vocal about making this a priority. Our coastal economy, our farmers and our children are counting on us to take important steps towards a greener future.

Her background

Ms. McGaw is a pharmacist working to optimize pharmaceutical care for the elderly. She is a member of the Portsmouth Democratic Town Committee, the Portsmouth Solid Waste and Recycling Committee and the Portsmouth Charter Review Committee; co-founded the Portsmouth Trash Collaborative; and serves on the board for the R.I. Democratic Women’s Caucus. 

(Note: Ms. McGaw is the wife of Jim McGaw, editor of The Portsmouth Times.)

Her promise 

For several years I have been working within all three towns of District 71 — Portsmouth, Tiverton and Little Compton — listening for opportunities where we can work together and collaborate on the issues that we share. While the incumbent representative is no longer running, I am still focused on advocating for the people of our district, rather than the well-connected. My grassroots campaign is supported by the people of Rhode Island. I have pledged to accept no financial support from House leadership, corporate lobbyists or the fossil fuel industry because I want people to know exactly who I am there to work for; the people of Rhode Island.

Amy Veri, Little Compton

‘An independent thinker

Her priorities

Responsible spending: Our state has a nearly $11 billion budget, and nearly $1 billion budget gap. The wasteful spending needs to stop. I support having an independent Inspector General audit state spending to identify and cut waste. 

Better business: Small businesses are the backbone of our state’s economy. Greater efforts must be made to strengthen our business climate. I support reducing the sales tax from 7 percent to 3.5 percent to make Rhode Island more competitive with neighboring states. This will attract new consumers to small businesses and save Rhode Islanders money when purchasing goods and services. 

Education and opportunity: I support returning the responsibility of education back to the teachers. I recognize the importance of standards and goals for each grade level, but curriculum should not be focused upon teaching students to pass a performance exam. It should be well rounded. Listening to teachers, students, and parents to understand what is working is critical for building a better curriculum. Structure and discipline must be restored in schools, ensuring a safe learning environment. I support restoration of vocational training to provide more opportunities for children. 

Conservation: I love Rhode Island, with its natural beauty, from forests to farms to waterways. I support continuing to conserve and protect our open spaces and natural resources. 

Law and order: I support law and order and oppose defunding law enforcement. 

Protecting rights: I will uphold the Federal and State Constitutions. I will not support legislation that infringes upon the rights guaranteed by the constitution or defined by the Supreme Court. 

Her background

Ms. Veri is a practicing attorney in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, specializing in criminal defense and family law. She has certifications and licenses from the National Criminal Defense College, Trial Practice Institute; Partners Overcoming Domestic Violence; and Basic Gang Specialist, National Gang Crime Research Center. Additionally, She is a member of the R.I. Bar Volunteer Lawyer Program and of the R.I. Court Appointed Indigent Defense, Superior, District, Family courts and mental health panels. 

Her promise 

I recognize there are good ideas on both sides of the political aisle. District 71 deserves a voice at the State House. We need a leader who is an independent thinker, who will listen to all ideas and concerns, and who will do what is in the best interests of our district and state. I am that leader. I ask for your vote on Nov. 3.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.