First District Congressional candidates tell what they’d do for Jamestown
With the statewide primary election for Rhode Island’s first Congressional district seat taking place this Tuesday, Sept. 14, it’s important for island residents to know just who the candidates are — and what they plan to do for Jamestown.
The candidates – David Cicilline, Bill Lynch, Kara Russo, David Segal, John Loughlin II and Anthony Gemma—each have their own variations of future plans for Jamestown and Rhode Island.
Current mayor of Providence, Democrat David Cicilline, said that if he’s elected, his plans include advocating in Washington for R.I. families, as well as preserving the state’s coast by breaking the U.S.’s addiction to fossil fuels.
“I will work to keep LNG tankers out of the Narragansett Bay, support a permanent moratorium on offshore drilling and stand up for alternative energy research,” he said.
Cicilline, who represented the East Side of Providence and a neighboring section of Pawtucket for four terms before being elected mayor of Providence in 2002 – and then again in 2006 – added that he also plans to work on bringing new investments and jobs to R.I. by enacting a “Made in America Block Grant” program to re-tool existing small manufacturers and re-train our workforce with the skills they need to compete in the new economy.
“I will also do everything I can to pass legislation establishing a National Infrastructure Bank that invests in local infrastructure projects so we can rebuild our bridges, roads and transit like we did with the Works Progress Administration,” he said.
Former City Councilor, Democrat Bill Lynch, said that if elected, a main focus of his would be job creation.
“In Jamestown,” Lynch said, “I will work to bolster the tourism industry as an economic engine by working with local and state officials to bring federal resources to the table.”
Lynch, who served as chair of the R.I. Democratic Party from 1998 until February, 2010, said that since much of Jamestown’s economy depends on the Narragansett Bay, he would support environmental clean-up of R.I. waterways and continue to vigorously fight against any proposed LNG terminal in Mt. Hope Bay.
He added that he would “hold regular community meetings to ensure an open dialogue with the community and also meet on a consistent basis with the fishermen who reside and work in the Jamestown area.”
Anthony Gemma, former president and CEO of Gem Plumbing & Heating, said that he will “provide Jamestown, the second smallest municipality of the 20 towns and cities in the first Congressional district, my undivided attention.”
Gemma, a Democrat who is the co-founder and president of the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation, also established Mediapeel, a full service marketing firm.
In his focus for Jamestown, Gemma plans on organizing work groups for each town and city in the Congressional district.
“I plan to organize a Jamestown work group as early as February 2011, comprised of nine Jamestown residents who will be asked to volunteer and serve a two-year term,” he said, adding that he’d like to create a diverse group of individuals.
“I will have a dialogue about LNG with the people of Jamestown,” Gemma added. “I will use my Congressional seat to stop it. I will get the core of engineers needed to assist Jamestown with the planning issues that relate to water. I will help maintain jobs in the military industry. I expect that when I am a member of Congress, I will listen and almost always do a majority of what the people from Jamestown want done.”
John Loughlin II
Republican John Loughlin II, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, is a threeterm state representative and House Minority Whip representing District 71 in the R.I. General Assembly.
If elected, Loughlin stated that he would bring to Jamestown the same thing he wants to bring to the rest of the first Congressional district—jobs.
“Rhode Island currently has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the nation and the highest foreclosure rate in New England,” Loughlin said. “I feel it is my responsibility to provide Rhode Islanders the tools to get back to work. I’m going to go to Washington and fight to lower taxes, cut spending and reduce the deficit.”
Loughlin added that he will also fight the inappropriate siting of the Weaver’s Cove LNG facility in Mt. Hope Bay.
“As a state representative, I opposed the siting of this facility and in Washington, I would work tirelessly to ensure that the proposed LNG facility is never constructed and that any future facilities are sited appropriately – away from population centers and fragile ecosystems,” he said. “Our waterways are our greatest natural and economic resource, and we must fight to protect them.”
Republican Kara Russo, who served for two years on the South Kingstown Chamber of Commerce Board of directors, was also on the Board of the South County Tourism Council. She also worked in the marketing dept. at the Providence Civic Center – now the Dunkin’ Donuts Center – and became the director of sales and marketing at URI’s Ryan Center.
If elected, Russo said that in terms of the Weaver’s Cove Project, she would work to encourage FERC to reconsider locating the LNG project in Rhode Island.
Russo said she would also focus on securing more federal insurance for homeowners in the event of hurricanes and the need for a stronger emergency management plan, as well as pushing for a tighter hold on vehicles speeding over the Jamestown- Verrazano Bridge.
She added, “The shellfishing industry in the state must be further developed by the Dept. of Environmental Management. I support further federal funding for the shell fishing industry, including research and development grants for URI to do work projects in Jamestown waters – including the 44 acres of Sheffi eld Cove in the Dutch Harbor area of Jamestown.”
Democrat David Segal, who spent 2010 working part time for a consumer rights attorney, said his plans for Jamestown include pushing for green jobs and the development of renewable energy in Congress.
“I’m proud to have been the lead sponsor of legislation that has already created green jobs and helped lead to the construction of the wind turbines on Aquidneck Island,” Segal said. “In Congress, I will fight to push for investments in renewables, and will do all that I can to help facilitate the construction of wind turbines in Jamestown at Taylor Point and Fort Getty.”
Segal added that he will “fiercely oppose any efforts to allow LNG into our ports and waterways.”
Segal, who spent four years on the Providence City Council and another four years as a state representative for Providence and East Providence, added that he would also fight for better federal support for state programs in order to maintain critical services – like education, elderly care and health care – and fight to protect and improve social security.