Connect with us

Politics & Elections

Belen Florez: The Rhode Island State Democratic Party does not welcome all



I have lived in Providence nearly forty years. Over the last five years I have been paying serious attention to our legislative body and the direction our district has been taking. I was growing more and more frustrated lack of movement in our community. It is as if we have been standing still for years, maybe even decades. We, as a city, are not getting the necessary money to grow and maintain ourselves, while we have billion dollar educational institutions not contributing their fair share. Our children do not feel safe in our schools. Our schools are crumbling and deteriorating. Our streets are filled with crime and violence. Our seniors are finding it more and more difficult to stay in their homes and afford their healthcare needs. Our tax rates are unaffordable and need change. And our current representative panders to special interest and the current leadership, instead of his constituents. For these reasons, I decided to run for State Representative in District 7.

I knew it wouldn’t be an easy task but I never expected to receive the resistance I am getting from the state Democratic Party. I am proud to have earned the Democratic endorsement from the locally run 7th Representative District Committee. My opponent, Representative Daniel McKiernan states that he did not seek the endorsement from the local district committee because he is not an insider. However, he received the maximum $1000 donation from Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, received thousands more from special interest groups, was appointed a Municipal Court Judge just one month after being elected as State Representative, and joined a law partnership with a statehouse lobbyist. You can’t be much more of an insider that he is.

The truth is, my endorsement came from a committee of community residents who live and care about our neighborhood. Representative McKiernan didn’t seek their endorsement because he has done nothing to earn it. Even though I received the local Democratic endorsement in accordance with state laws, the State Party nevertheless tried to override my endorsement in a letter to the Secretary of State. Since then, the state Democratic Party has been nothing but obstructive to my campaign. For over two months I have called and emailed numerous times asking for the same level of assistance that all other endorsed candidates get, but these calls and emails have been ignored. I am not receiving any assistance from the state Democratic Party, such as the “VAN list” that is given to other endorsees.

On Thursday, August 16, 2018 I finally talked to Kevin Olasanoye, who said I could meet with him Monday, August 20th. I took a day out of work to meet with Kevin at the State Democratic Party, and hours before the meeting he called to cancel, stating that he had a conference call to be on. This level of disregard is unacceptable.

This treatment, I realize is not unique to me, as I see how the other progressive Democratic women candidates, including incumbents, have been treated by the State Democratic chairman and Party. As a first time candidate, I am beginning to see why so many do not run and why so many incumbents are unopposed.

Can you help us?

Funding for our reporting relies on the generosity of readers like you. Our independence allows us to write stories that hold RI state and local government officials accountable. All of our stories are free and available to everyone. But your support is essential to keeping Steve and Will on the beat, covering the costs of reporting many stories in a single day. If you are able to, please support Uprise RI. Every contribution, big or small is so valuable to us. You provide the motivation and financial support to keep doing what we do. Thank you.

Become a Patron!
Opens in a new tab - you won't lose you place

My opponent clearly has the support of Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and the Rhode Island State Democratic Party. Teams of canvassers, including state workers are walking the streets with him.

Since April I have walked the streets of my district, heard my neighbors concerns and shared my ideas. I hear them and will be there for them as their voice. I will take my case to the people of my neighborhood. I will represent my district and only them, not special interests that are plaguing our state house. It is time for a change in the Democratic Party.