The second Rhode Island gubernatorial debate of 2018 took place at the Sheraton Airport Hotel in Warwick. Five of the ten currently announced candidates attended: Spencer Dickinson (Democrat), Matt Brown (Democrat), Giovanni Feroce (Republican), Bill Gilbert (Moderate) and Paul Roselli (Democrat).

Invited but not attending were Governor Gina Raimondo (Democrat), Allan Fung (Republican), Patricia Morgan (Republican), Luis-Daniel Munoz (independent) and Joe Trillo (Independent).

In the front row of the audience, experts on housing were assembled, as “instant fact checkers.” The experts were retired communications consultant Gary Morse, millennial radio host Tyler Salk, Brenda Clement, director of HousingWorks Rhode Island, Melina Lodge, Director of Programs for the Housing Network / Community Housing Land Trust at the Housing Network of Rhode Island, and David Caldwell, whose company builds and remodels homes.

The focus of the debate was affordable housing, and no easy answers presented themselves. In fact, the panel struggled to come to a consensus on what affordable housing is. Candidates tiptoed around the idea that many communities in Rhode Island eschew building affordable housing because they don’t want to attract “certain people.”

The idea they were tiptoeing around is racism.

In the end, there were no clear winners or losers in the debate. Some of the panelists, like Dickinson and Gilbert, seemed more knowledgeable about building homes, others, like Brown and Roselli, were more on point with their social and economic analysis.

You can watch the full debate here:

The next debate in this series will be about health care.

The panel of housing experts:

Gary Morse, Tyler Salk, Brenda Clement, Melina Lodge, David Caldwell
Bill Rappleye, moderator

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