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Rhode Island political news: August 2022

Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Dan McKee delivers his State of the State address to lawmakers and guests in the House Chamber at the Statehouse, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, in Providence, R.I.Stew Milne/Associated Press

Aug. 10, 2022

Warwick City Council president backs Shekarchi in House race

Warwick City Council President Stephen P. McAllister is backing House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi for re-election in House District 23.

Shekarchi, a Warwick Democrat, is facing a Democratic primary against Jacqueline M. Anderson, and Republican Dana J. Traversie is running for the House District 23 seat.

“At the State House and across Rhode Island, Joe Shekarchi is known as Speaker Shekarchi,” McAllister wrote in a statement of support. “But in his hometown of Warwick, he is simply known as Joe,” and “Joe has been a champion for Warwick residents while serving as state rep in District 23.”

That district includes Ward 7, which McAllister represents on the City Council, and he said Shekarchi often calls him to ask, “What’s going on in the neighborhoods?” or “How can I help?”

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“Having Joe represent our city at the State House has been a huge benefit for Warwick,” McAllister said. “Joe worked hard to eliminate the car tax and ensured Warwick would not suffer any revenue loss as a result. He advocated for bringing more affordable housing to Warwick and led a team that created the first-ever permanent funding stream for affordable housing in Rhode Island.”

McAllister said Shekarchi also worked to ensure that Kent Hospital stayed open, “helping protect 3,000 jobs in Warwick and allowing our residents to continue to receive top-notch health care services without leaving the city.”

Aug. 10, 2022

Teamsters endorse Pryor for R.I. treasurer

Teamsters Local 251 on Wednesday endorsed Stefan Pryor for state treasurer.

Pryor, the former Rhode Island commerce secretary, is running against former Central Falls mayor James A. Diossa in a Democratic primary.

“As commerce secretary, Stefan Pryor has stood with Teamster families by supporting good jobs in Rhode Island,” said Matt Tiabi, Eastern Region vice president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. “We are confident Mr. Pryor will support Teamster families as state treasurer.”

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Pryor thanked Teamsters Local 251 for the endorsement, saying, “Local 251 is essential to Rhode Island’s economy, ensuring our supply chain remains strong. Together, we will keep Rhode Island’s economic momentum going, even during these uncertain times. As treasurer, I will work tirelessly to protect our workers, their families, and their financial futures.”

Aug. 9, 2022

Providence mayoral candidates meeting in forum

The three candidates for mayor of Providence on Wednesday will take part in a candidate forum hosted by Central Providence Opportunities: A Health Equity Zone and ONE Neighborhood Builders.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10, at Father Lennon Park, 62 Camden Place, in Providence. Dinner will be served at 7:15 p.m., and voter registration will be available.

The three Democratic candidates are former deputy secretary of state Gonzalo Cuervo, Providence City Council member Nirva LaFortune, and former state administration director Brett Smiley.

The event will include Jennifer Hawkins, executive director of ONE Neighborhood Builders, and residents from the 02908 and 02909 zip codes and will highlight issues of concern to those areas of the city. The program will be conducted in English and Spanish.

Aug. 8, 2022

Women members of R.I. House of Representatives endorse Shekarchi

Nearly two dozen women members of the Rhode Island House of Representatives have written an open letter in support of the re-election of State Representative Joe Shekarchi.

”Throughout his tenure at the State House, Joe Shekarchi has tirelessly worked to build relationships among stakeholders to get things done,” they wrote. “His abilities to listen with an open mind and build consensus have made him an effective leader during a critical time in our state and country. Moreover, he has made a concentrated effort to rebalance power in the House, elevating women to a record number of leadership positions and championing our legislation.”

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In the letter, the legislators noted that Shekarchi played a major role in codifying Roe v. Wade into law in Rhode Island.

”Without his support and advocacy, this crucial legislation would not have passed,” they wrote.

They listed other work Shekarchi has championed, including passing legislation to ensure pay equity for women, supporting healthcare reimbursement rate reform, eliminating the state car tax, implementing more tax breaks for seniors, eliminating state taxes on military pensions, and increasing spending for mental health services. They credited his leadership in the passage of the Act on Climate, several measures to decrease gun violence, and measures to improve voting access and security.

The signers of the letter point out that much of the legislation Shekarchi has championed has been sponsored by women.

“As Speaker, Joe Shekarchi has made Rhode Island’s House of Representatives a place where women can grow and thrive as civic leaders,” they wrote. “Six house committees are chaired by women and 21 women serve as either committee vice chairs or sub-committee chairs; the Majority Whip and Deputy Majority Whip are women, as is the Deputy Speaker; and four women serve as Deputy Majority Leaders. Many key House leadership positions are filled by a diverse group of women. By any measurement, that’s progress.”

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”We are proud to endorse Joe Shekarchi in the House District 23 Democratic primary,” they added. “His leadership has helped advance smart policies and build a chamber of increased equality and fairness. Under his leadership, this House is no longer the ‘good old boys’ club that it once was but is now a member-driven chamber that champions and encourages women to fulfill key roles at crucial moments on major pieces of legislation.”

The letter was signed by state Representatives Lauren Carson, Terri Cortvriend, Kathy Fogarty, Katherine Kazarian, Julie Casimiro, Grace Diaz, Teresa Tanzi, Karen Alzate, Leonela Felix, Justine Caldwell, Edie Ajello, Susan Donovan, Carol McEntee, Jackie Baginski, Rebecca Kislak, Mary Messier, Patricia Serpa, June Speakman, Mia Ackerman, Susan Donovan, Mary Ann Shallcross Smith, Deb Fellela, and Marcia Ranglin-Vassell.

Aug. 8, 2022

Morales endorses Cuervo for mayor

State Representative David Morales on Monday endorsed Gonzalo Cuervo for mayor of Providence.

Morales, a Providence Democrat, said he considers Cuervo “the best candidate to lead Providence to economic prosperity for all,” and he said Cuervo’s commitment to working with Providence’s General Assembly delegation won his support.

“I’m proud to support Gonzalo Cuervo for mayor of Providence as he is truly committed to the working people and families in our communities,” Morales said.

He said Cuervo has plans for addressing issues that are important for working families and underserved communities.

“From the expansion of public and affordable housing to improving basic city services to holding private universities financially accountable to fully implementing the Providence Climate Justice Plan – I know Gonzalo will continue to work with the people in our community to introduce a city budget and a series of ordinances that improves the quality of life in Providence,” Morales said.

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Morales represents House District 7, which includes the Mount Pleasant and Elmhurst neighborhoods.

Cuervo is running in a Democratic primary against Providence City Council member Nirva LaFortune and former state administration director Brett Smiley.

Aug. 8, 2022

Ruggiero presses Matos for more debates

State Representative Deborah L. Ruggiero, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, on Monday called for Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos to take part in more debates.

“It is disappointing to see Sabina Matos and her team ignore our calls for debate participation,” Ruggiero said in a statement. “Their previous remarks are dismissive and demeaning to all Rhode Islanders. Debates are democracy in action.”

Ruggiero, a Jamestown Democrat, said she is proud of her record and accomplishments. “It appears that Matos is unable to say the same,” she said. “Rhode Islanders deserve more than the failed McKee-Matos administration.”

Ruggiero, Matos and Senator Cynthia Mendes, an East Providence Democrat, are running in a Democratic primary for lieutenant governor.

Aug. 8, 2022

Fire put out at secretary of state candidate’s house

Stephanie Beauté, a Democratic candidate for secretary of state, was driving home from the Dominican Festival parade on Sunday when she received a call from an alarm company saying her home in North Smithfield was on fire.

When she arrived home, North Smithfield firefighters and investigators were on the scene, and they put out a kitchen fire on the first floor within minutes, limiting damage to other areas of the house. No one was injured, but the house will be uninhabitable for at least three weeks, according to a statement from her campaign.

Beauté complimented the North Smithfield firefighters for their quick action and painstaking work to minimize damage to the house. “Public servants in Rhode Island are taken for granted so often, but this was a first-hand demonstration of how important our First Responders are,” she said.

Beauté said she had planned on hosting a birthday party for her daughter before the fire, but the party was moved to the fire station No. 2 in North Smithfield, where firefighters treated children and parents with a tour of the station. The children also took turns sitting in firetrucks and were given coloring books.

The fire department’s “immediate offer of hospitality for the birthday party was a huge hit with the children,” Beauté said, and she is “most grateful.”

Aug. 6, 2022

R.I. Latino PAC endorses Gorbea, Matos, Diossa, Cuervo

The Rhode Island Latino Political Action Committee is endorsing Nellie M. Gorbea for governor, Sabina Matos for lieutenant governor, James A. Diossa for state treasurer, and Gregg Amore for secretary of state.

RILPAC also is endorsing Gonzalo Cuervo for mayor of Providence.

In state legislative races, the group is backing Senator Sandra Cano, a Pawtucket Democrat; Senator Jonathon Acosta, a Central Falls Democrat; Representative Karen Alzate, a Pawtucket Democrat; Representative Jose Batista, a Providence Democrat; House candidate Maribel Echeverry McLaughlin; and House candidate Giona Picheco.

In Providence City Council races, the PAC is endorsing Miguel A. Sanchez in Ward 6 and former state Senator Juan M. Pichardo in Ward 9.

In Pawtucket races, the group is backing Mayor Donald R. Grebien and City Council candidates Yesenia Rubio and Roberto Moreno.

Aug. 6, 2022

Candidate for R.I. governor, Gorbea announces 44 endorsements

Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea, a Democratic candidate for governor, has picked up 44 endorsements from a variety of former and current state legislators, city and town council members, Democratic committee chairs, school committee members, and others.

“Nellie has always been there, fighting for policies that make life easier for all Rhode Islanders,” said state Senator Bridget Valverde, a North Kingstown Democrat. “Whether it’s expanding housing opportunities, improving voting systems, or advocating for reproductive justice, she shows up and does the work. We need strong, transparent leadership, and I trust Nellie to be the governor we all need.”

“Nellie Gorbea is a well rounded, experienced community leader who has worked tirelessly for Rhode Island as a public servant for most of her career,” Pawtucket City Council member Elena Vasquez said. “I believe Nellie is the right candidate to bring back economic growth and prosperity to the Ocean State. As governor, Nellie will ensure our government embraces and reflects the diversity of this great state.”

On Friday, Gorbea announced endorsements from former state senator J. Clement “Bud” Cicilline; former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Myrth York, Senator Bridget Valverde, Senator James Seveney, Senator Alana DiMario, Senator Meghan Kallman, Representative John Edwards, Representative Susan Donovan, Representative Jason Knight, Representative Mary Messier, Representative Grace Diaz, Representative Karen Alzate, Representative Lauren Carson, Representative Terri Cortvriend, Representative Leonela Felix, Representative Rebecca Kislak, Representative Carol Hagan McEntee, and Representative June Speakman.

On the local level, Gorbea announced endorsements from Smithfield Town Council President Suzy Alba, Central Falls City Council President Pro Tempore Franklin Solano, Central Falls City Council President Jessica Vega, Cranston City Council Vice President Robert Ferri, Providence City Council Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris, Newport City Council member Elizabeth Fuerte, Cranston City Council member Aniece Germain, Bristol Town Council member Aaron Ley, North Kingstown Town Council member Kimberly Page, Warwick City Council member Jeremy Rix, Pawtucket City Council member Elena Vasquez, North Smithfield School Committee member Paul Jones, East Greenwich School Committee Chair Anne Musella, and East Greenwich School Committee member William Hangan.

Gorbea also announced endorsements from Charlestown Democrats Cathy and Will Collette, Portsmouth Democratic Committee Chair Len Katzman, New Shoreham Democratic Committee Chair Sean McGarry, Richmond Democratic Committee Chair Joe Reddish, East Greenwich Democratic Committee Chair Christa Thompson, former Providence Journal political columnist M. Charles Bakst, Johnston Housing Authority Executive Director David aRusso, home builder David Caldwell Jr., Former Planned Parenthood RI medical director Dr. Pablo Rodriguez, Joyce Stevos, and former Common Cause Rhode Island executive director H. Phillip West Jr.

Gorbea is running in a Democratic primary against Governor Daniel J. McKee, former CVS executive Helena B. Foulkes, former secretary of state Matt Brown, and Dr. Luis Daniel Muñoz.

Aug. 5, 2022

EMILY’S List endorses LaFortune for Providence mayor

EMILY’s List on Friday endorsed Providence Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune for mayor.

The national group, which aims to elect Democratic women at all levels of government who support abortion rights, noted LaFortune would be the first woman, first Black person, and first mom to be elected as mayor of Providence.

“EMILY’s List is thrilled to endorse Nirva LaFortune for Providence mayor,” said Sarah Curmi, the group’s vice president of state and local campaigns. “LaFortune has been a force for positive change as a council member for Providence’s 3rd Ward since 2017. In that time, she has championed affordable housing, community development, and public education. We are proud to support her groundbreaking mayoral candidacy and can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next.”

LaFortune said the support of EMILY’s List is humbling.

“At this moment in our history, with access to abortion under assault, I can commit to using the bully pulpit and convening powers of the mayor’s office to elevate the issue of reproductive justice,” she said. “I pledge to work alongside the governor, state legislature, and our congressional delegation to never stop fighting for the rights of all people to access abortion and reproductive healthcare.”

LaFortune is running in a Democratic primary against former state administration director Brett Smiley and former deputy secretary of state Gonzalo Cuervo.

Aug. 5, 2022

AFSCME Council 94 endorses Pryor for R.I. treasurer

AFSCME Council 94, the largest state employee union in Rhode Island, on Friday endorsed former Rhode Island commerce secretary Stefan Pryor for state treasurer.

Pyror said he was proud and humbled to receive the endorsement.

“Thank you, Council 94, for entrusting me with your retirement future,” he said. " Since we are entering into uncertain economic times, it’s important that we have a professional in the treasurer’s office who will work tirelessly to protect our workers, their families, and their financial futures. With the help of AFSCME Council 94, I look forward to serving as treasurer — and to keeping Rhode Island’s finances stable and our economy strong.”

Pryor is running in a Democratic primary against former Central Falls mayor James A. Diossa.

Aug. 5, 2022

R.I. Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals backs Diossa

The Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals on Friday announced it is endorsing former Central Falls mayor James A. Diossa for state treasurer.

“James’ experience as mayor during the most turbulent time in Central Falls history has ingrained in him the importance of protecting the fiscal stability of both state and municipal finances to ensure that employees, and the taxpayers they serve, will never have to experience that again,” the union said.

The federation, which has 12,000 members, said Diossa will continue the “Back to Basics” strategy that General Treasurer Seth Magaziner employed for state pension investments to avoid high-fee, high-risk options.

“As treasurer, James will continue the important work of rebuilding our schools,” the union said. “He strongly believes that all students in our state, whether they live in urban, suburban, or rural communities, deserve to go to school in safe, modern, state-of-the-art facilities.”

Aug. 4, 2022

R.I. Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals endorses Gorbea

The Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals on Thursday announced it is endorsing Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea for governor.

“Nellie has experience in both the public and private sectors and has a track record of creating labor management partnerships,” the union said. “In her tenure as secretary of state, she has worked diligently to bring all stakeholders to the table to resolve the complex issues which confront us. As a coalition builder, she values the diversity of opinion provided by all constituents.”

The endorsement comes after another teachers union, the National Education Association Rhode Island, announced it is backing Governor Daniel J. McKee in the Democratic primary for governor.

The Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals, which has 12,000 members, said Gorbea’s vision for the state aligns with the union’s values and objectives, and it said her priorities focus on housing, education, healthcare, and economic development.

“Nellie is committed to creating a leadership team who will consult with teachers and teacher leaders to improve our schools,” the union said. “She will provide the leadership necessary to improve our education funding formula, invest in professional development, and expand opportunities to attend public higher education institutions. She will strive to create the schools our children and families deserve. She has the strength and courage to make difficult decisions.”

Union President Frank Flynn said, “We look forward to partnering with Nellie as we face many difficult challenges over the next several years. Her inclusive leadership style and strong work ethic are traits that our board recognized and appreciated when making this decision.”

Aug. 4, 2022

SEIU State Council backs Diossa in R.I. treasurer’s race

The Rhode Island Service Employees International Union State Council on Thursday endorsed former Central Falls mayor James A. Diossa for state treasurer.

Diossa is running against former Rhode Island commerce secretary Stefan Pryor in a Democratic primary, and the winner will face Republican James L. Lathrop, finance director for North Kingstown.

“There were two great candidates running for general treasurer,” SEIU Local 580 President Matthew Gunnip said. “But in the end, James Diossa earned our endorsement because he truly understands the needs of working Rhode Islanders and has proven his commitment to making our state more fair and equal for all.”

The council — which includes SEIU union locals 1199NE, 32BJ, Local 580 and Local 401 — represents healthcare, janitorial, family child care and workforce development workers, and employees in the Department of Children, Youth and Families, the Department of Labor and Training.

The council said that when Diossa was on the Central Falls City Council, he fought to keep the city’s public library and post office open amid budgetary problems.

“As the youngest elected and first Latino mayor of Central Falls, Mayor Diossa continued the fight, marching on the picket line to support union workers’ efforts to win a fair contract at Blackstone Valley Community Health Center, Pawtucket Falls [Healthcare Center], and many more, and working to stabilize the pension system for thousands of public workers,” the union said.

Aug. 4, 2022

Libraries hosting three Providence mayoral debates

The three candidates for mayor of Providence will take part in three debates hosted by the Community Libraries of Providence in partnership with the League of Women Voters of Providence.

Democratic candidates Gonzalo Cuervo, Nirva LaFortune and Brett Smiley will answer questions about neighborhood issues and share their plans for the city’s future.

All the debates will take place before an in-person audience and be livestreamed to CLPVD’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Providence residents will be able to submit questions to candidates and tell them what they think about schools, libraries, safety, the economy, and other issues of concern to the community.

The debates take place at 7 p.m. on:

  • Aug. 25 at the Mount Pleasant Library, 315 Academy Ave.
  • Sept. 1 at the Rochambeau Library, 708 Hope St.
  • Sept. 7 at the South Providence Library, 441 Prairie Ave.

“Community Libraries play an important role in the life of Providence, providing programs and resources in response to the needs of the community,” Community Libraries of Providence Director Cheryl Space said. “Choosing a new mayor is an important decision and we hope these debates will help Providence voters make the right choice.”

The League of Women Voters will moderate the debates.

“As a nonpartisan political organization, the Providence League is pleased to partner with the Community Libraries to give Providence citizens this opportunity to hear and evaluate the candidates for mayor,” League of Women Voters of Providence President Liz Head said.

For more information go here.

Aug. 3, 2022

The Collective PAC endorses Matos for R.I. lieutenant governor

The Collective PAC, a political action committee “focused on increasing the number of African Americans in public office at all levels,” on Wednesday endorsed Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor.

Matos is running against Representative Deborah L. Ruggiero, a Jamestown Democrat, and Senator Cynthia Mendes, an East Providence Democrat.

The founders of The Collective PAC, Quentin James and Stefanie Brown James, issued a statement, saying, “Lieutenant Governor Matos was a 20-year-old immigrant from the Dominican Republic who dared to dream big and overcame obstacles,” and they said, “That is the type of leader Rhode Island needs in order to thrive and be pushed into a new era of progress.”

Matos’ top priorities include small businesses, expanding job-training opportunities, and developing new housing and programs for the elderly, the statement said. “We are proud to support and help Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos as she continues her legacy of breaking racial and gender boundaries and putting the community’s needs first,” they said.

Aug. 2, 2022

Sierra Club endorses Mendes and Diossa

The Rhode Island chapter of the Sierra Club on Monday endorsed Senator Cynthia Mendes for lieutenant governor and former Central Falls mayor James A. Diossa for state treasurer.

The organization also made endorsements in General Assembly and Providence City Council races.

“In these unprecedented times, it is imperative to support responsible, reasonable, justice-focused candidates,” the Sierra Club chapter said. “We believe the following candidates most closely align with our mission and understand that the climate crisis isn’t some far off abstract threat, but something we must deal with now, by taking concrete steps to foster equity and environmental justice.”

The chapter backed Mendes, an East Providence Democrat, in a primary against Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos and Representative Deborah L. Ruggiero, a Jamestown Democrat. And it backed Diossa, a Pawtucket Democrat, in a primary against former Rhode Island commerce secretary Stefan Pryor.

In state Senate races, the group endorsed: Robin Xiong in Senate District 3, Samuel Bell in Senate District 5, Tiara Mack in Senate District 6, Linda Ujifusa in Senate District 11, Meghan Kallman in Senate District 15, Jonathon Acosta in Senate District 16, Greg Greco in Senate District 18, Melanie DuPont in Senate District 22, Melissa Murray in Senate District 24, Jennifer Rourke in Senate District 29, Jeanine Calkin in Senate District 30, and Bridget Valverde in Senate District 35.

In state House of Representatives race, the group endorsed: Christopher Blazejewski in House District 2, Rebecca Kislak in House District 4, Damian Lima in House District 6, David Morales in House District 7, John Lombardi in House District 8, Enrique Sanchez in House District 9, Jose Batista in House District 12, Giona Picheco in House District 14, Brandon Potter in House District 16, Arthur Handy in House District 18, Zakary Pereira in House District 22, Samara Yelle in House District 26, Teresa Tanzi in House District 34, Tina Spears in House District 36, Megan Cotter in House District 39, Paul Roselli in House District 47, Alex Kithes in House District 49, Marlene Guay in House District 51, Clara Hardy in House District 55, Joshua Giraldo in House District 56, Cherie Cruz in House District 58, Jennifer Stewart in House District 59, Karen Alzate in House District 60, Kinverly Dicupe in House District 62, Katherine Kazarian in House District 63, Brianna Henries in House District 64, Jennifer Boylan in House District 66, Jason Knight in House District 67, Terri-Denise Cortvriend in House District 72, and Lauren Carson in House District 75.

And in Providence City Council races, the group endorsed Sue AnderBois in Ward 3, Andrew Poyant in Ward 14, April Brown in Ward 9, Jacqueline Goldman in Ward 5, and Miguel Sanchez in Ward 6.

Aug. 1, 2022

Gorbea poll shows her leading R.I. governor’s race

Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea on Monday released an internal poll memo showing her maintaining a lead in the Democratic primary for governor.

The July 25-27 survey of 500 likely Democratic primary voters showed Gorbea with 27 percent of the vote, Governor Daniel J. McKee with 22 percent, former CVS executive Helena B. Foulkes with 14 percent, former secretary of state Matt Brown with 7 percent, and Dr. Luis Daniel Muñoz with 3 percent. The margin of error for the full sample was plus or minus 4.38 percentage points.

That reflects the same order, but different percentages, as a Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll of 800 likely general election voters conducted June 19-22, showing Gorbea in the lead with 24 percent of the vote, McKee at 20 percent, Foulkes at 16 percent, Brown at 5 percent, and Muñoz at 1.4 percent. The margin of error was plus or minus 5.2 percentage points.

The Democratic primary is scheduled for Sept. 13.

The poll memo, written by Celinda Lake and others, says that 41 percent of voters think McKee is doing an excellent or good job, including 6 percent who think he is doing an excellent job, while 54 percent believe he is doing a just fair or poor job, including 18 percent who think he is doing a poor job. Lake’s firm, Lake Research Partners, conducts polls and advises on strategy for Democratic candidates.

By contrast, 53 percent of voters view Gorbea favorably, including 24 percent who view her very favorably, while 23 percent view her unfavorably, including 10 percent who view her very unfavorably, the memo says.

The memo said 33 percent of voters view Foulkes favorably, including 11 percent very favorably, and 23 percent view her negatively, including 11 percent very unfavorably, the memo says.

“Our poll clearly reflects how Rhode Island Democrats feel — they know the work Nellie Gorbea has done for their community and they like the results,” Gorbea campaign manager Dana Walton said. “Nellie knows the biggest challenges facing Rhode Island are all interconnected, and she has a clear plan to fix the housing crisis, improve education, and tackle climate change. Nellie’s message, proven track record of leadership, and community involvement is clearly resonating with voters.”

Aug. 1, 2022

Firefighters union backs Cuervo for Providence mayor

Providence Fire Fighters, IAFF Local 799, on Monday endorsed Gonzalo Cuervo for mayor of Providence.

The union cited Cuervo’s “long-standing working relationship with the city’s firefighters and his commitment to improving communication and cooperation between the city’s unions and the administration,

Local 799 President Michael Foley said the choice was clear compared to Cuervo’s competitors – former state administration director Brett Smiley and Providence City Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune.

“Gonzalo has always treated Providence’s firefighters with the same respect he gives anyone else,” Foley said. “We know he will be honest with us about what he expects and needs from us, and that he’ll expect the same from Local 799. His commitment to improving lines of communication between the Fire Department and the mayor’s Office is a welcome change of direction from previous mayors, and we’re looking forward to having a mayor who treats our city’s public servants with care and respect.”

Cuervo said he was honored to receive the endorsement.

“It’s no secret that the City of Providence’s relationship with its public employee unions has, at times, been contentious,” he said. “I have been at the table across from Local 799 during some difficult contract negotiations. It’s that experience that makes me so proud to earn this endorsement. It shows that just because we sometimes sit on opposite sides of a table, we’re not opponents, and that we all want the best for Providence. That’s the kind of mayorship I plan to have, one that brings people together rather than seeking to make scapegoats out of our most dedicated public servants.”

Cuervo, who worked in the administrations of former mayors Angel Taveras and David N. Cicilline, said too many previous mayors “have gotten bogged down in needless, vitriolic battles with our public employee unions.”

“As mayor, I’m going to put those fights in the past,” he said. “This campaign is about bringing the people of Providence together to ensure that everyone in our city is able to achieve their dreams. I’m proud that Local 799 is going to be a partner in this campaign to win us that future, and I look forward to working with them as mayor.”

July 29, 2022

SEIU council endorses Neronha, Amore, Shekarchi, Ruggerio

The Rhode Island SEIU State Council on Friday endorsed Democratic Attorney General Peter F. Neronha for re-election and Representative Gregg Amore, an East Providence Democrat, for secretary of state.

The state council — which includes Rhode Island union locals 1199NE, 32BJ, 580, and 401 — also endorsed House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, a Warwick Democrat, in the House District 23 race, and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio, a North Providence Democrat, in the Senate District 4 race.

”Rhode Island needs elected leaders who will fight for what our families need — quality education, affordable access to health care services, and wages that keep up with the rising cost of living,” said Shirley Lomba, a certified nursing assistant, med tech and union delegate.

Neronha showed his commitment to health care workers and patients by making sure their best interests were represented throughout the proposed Care New England/Lifespan merger, she said.

In the General Assembly, Shekarchi, Ruggerio, and Amore “stood up for front-line workers, fighting for major investments in workforce development and higher wages for Rhode Island’s most underpaid employees,” Lomba said. “We are excited to continue working with them to make our state better for everyone.”

The SEIU State Council represents workers across the state, including health care, janitorial, security, family child care, workforce development, and employees in the state Department of Children, Youth and Families, and the Department of Labor and Training.

July 27, 2022

Middletown Democrats endorse Foulkes for R.I. governor

The Middletown Democratic Town Committee on Monday endorsed former CVS executive Helena B. Foulkes in the Democratic primary for governor.

“I am so impressed with Helena’s accomplishments in the private sector,” committee chairwoman Vanessa Ellermann said. “She has proven herself to be a strong, astute and empathetic leader.”

Foulkes has made education a central issue in her campaign, promising to be a single-term governor if test scores don’t improve, and she has a “bold plan” to improve the state’s economy, the committee said.

Foulkes is running in a Democratic primary against Governor Daniel J. McKee, Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea, Dr. Luis Daniel Muñoz, and former secretary of state Matt Brown.

The Middletown Democratic Town Committee also voted to endorse Representative Deborah L. Ruggiero, a Jamestown Democrat, for lieutenant governor. Ruggiero is facing a primary against Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos, a Providence Democrat, and Senator Cynthia Mendes, an East Providence Democrat.

The committee voted to back former Rhode Island commerce secretary Stefan Pryor, a Providence Democrat, in his primary against former Central Falls mayor James A. Diossa.

Middletown Democrats also endorsed Representative Gregg Amore for secretary of state, Attorney General Peter F. Neronha, and 1st Congressional District Representative David N. Cicilline.

In local General Assembly races, the committee endorsed Senator Louis P. DiPalma, a Middletown Democrat, in Senate District 12; House Finance Committee Chairman Marvin L. Abney, a Newport Democrat, in House District 73; Representative Terri Cortvriend, a Portsmouth Democrat, in House District 72; and Alex Finkelman, a Jamestown Democrat running for the House District 74 seat that Ruggiero is leaving to run for lieutenant governor.

July 26, 2022

Clean Water Action endorses Gorbea for R.I. governor

Clean Water Action on Tuesday endorsed Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea in the Democratic primary for governor.

“Secretary Gorbea shares many of Clean Water Action’s environmental priorities, including achieving the goals set in the ‘Act on Climate,’ developing our state’s renewable energy economy, incentivizing the development of sustainable housing, and making our cities and towns more resilient to the impacts of climate change,” said Jed Thorp, the Rhode Island state director for Clean Water Action.

Clean Water Action noted that Gorbea’s campaign released a climate policy plan on Tuesday.

Gorbea also supports legislation to reduce plastic consumption and plastic waste, including a beverage container deposit program and extended producer responsibility for packaging, the group said.

Thorp said the federal government has not taken sufficient action, so states must take the lead on fighting the climate crisis and transitioning to a renewable energy future. “To meet this moment, Rhode Island needs a leader like Secretary Gorbea, who will prioritize tackling climate change and position our state as a national clean energy leader,” he said.

Clean Water Action, which has 50,000 members in Rhode Island, said it will be talking to its members door-to-door between now and Election Day about the candidates the group has endorsed.

Gorbea is running in a Democratic primary against Governor Daniel J. McKee, Dr. Luis Daniel Muñoz, former CVS executive Helena B. Foulkes, and former secretary of state Matt Brown.

July 25, 2022

National Education Association R.I. backs McKee

The National Education Association Rhode Island is endorsing Governor Daniel J. McKee in the Democratic primary for governor.

The endorsement by NEARI’s Political Action Committee for Education comes as the Rhode Island AFL-CIO is endorsing McKee, giving him significant union support as the Sept. 13 primary approaches.

The teachers union acknowledged that it didn’t have much of a relationship with McKee when he was lieutenant governor.

Indeed, NEARI endorsed McKee’s Republican opponent in the 2014 lieutenant governor’s race, Catherine T. Taylor, and it endorsed his 2018 Democratic primary opponent, former state Representative Aaron Regunberg.

“But when it became evident he would be elevated to the governor’s office, he made the choice to reach out and include NEARI in the dialogue regarding all the areas of concern to our 12,000 members,” the union said. “The first thing he did — because he listened to input from those in the K-12 system — was ensure classroom teachers and education support professionals got shots in arms to combat the COVID pandemic. McKee immediately set up clinics all over the state to ensure educators had access to vaccines to continue their critical work.”

NEARI President Larry Purtill said McKee also “put his money where his mouth is” by ensuring funding for public school construction and paying off an old debt owed by the state to the pension system.

“There have been, and still are, areas where we disagree with the governor and frankly, all his rivals,” Purtill said. “However, communication with the McKee administration has steadily become more active and robust as he accrues time in the role of governor.”

NEARI-PACE Committee Chair Amy Mullen said McKee met with union leaders when there were issues at the Community College of Rhode Island impacting union members.

One outcome of that meeting was McKee’s appointment of Purtill to the Council on Postsecondary Education, “where our higher education members had not had a voice in nearly a decade,” she said. And McKee appointed incoming NEARI executive director Mary Barden to the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education, ”so the voice of K-12 educators like me continues to be heard on that panel as well,” she said.

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Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.