Politics & Elections

Rhode Island Political Cooperative candidates so far: A brief introduction

“In today’s world, freedom means the ability to pursue self actualization,” said Jonathan Acosta, candidate for Senate District 16. “That means all people should have their basic medical, educational, housing and employment needs met in order to live out their ideal lives. We need a state government that prioritizes people over corporations and protects us from weak gun policies, rising
Photo for Rhode Island Political Cooperative candidates so far: A brief introduction

Published on September 25, 2019
By Uprise RI

“In today’s world, freedom means the ability to pursue self actualization,” said Jonathan Acosta, candidate for Senate District 16. “That means all people should have their basic medical, educational, housing and employment needs met in order to live out their ideal lives. We need a state government that prioritizes people over corporations and protects us from weak gun policies, rising utility costs, structural discrimination, career politicians, and private interests.”

A group of community leaders and supporters from across the state announced the formation on Wednesday of a new statewide political initiative, the Rhode Island Political Cooperative, dedicated to challenging the political establishment and forming a new governing majority that will make government work for the people of Rhode Island – not for corporations or the connected. The initiative will form a slate of 25 or more like-minded Democratic candidates to run for office in 2020 and provide them with the support they need to win.

For information on the Rhode Island Political Cooperative, see:

Here are the first 15 candidates announced by the Rhode Island Political Cooperative:

Jennifer Douglas for Senate District 34

Jennifer Douglas

Jennifer Douglas is a lifelong Rhode Islander and Charlestown resident of 15 years. She is the Town Committee Representative of the Rhode Island Democratic Party Women’s Caucus, a member of the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee, and current Progressive Democrat candidate for State Senate in her district. She is a mother, activist, and amateur archivist with a special interest in highlighting the social and political importance of preserving women’s voices during periods of political unrest.

“As a single parent I understand how difficult it is to support a family amid the rising costs of living,” said Douglas. “I will fight for a living wage, comprehensive health care coverage, and affordable higher education and trade schools so parents can worry about raising their kids, not rising debts.”

Senate District 34 is currently occupied by Elaine Morgan, a Republican.

Michelle McGaw for House District 71

Michelle McGaw

Michelle McGaw is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy where she met her husband Jim. They have made Portsmouth their home since 1991, raising two sons, Jake and Max. In recent years she has been focused on becoming more involved in Rhode Island politics and finding ways to make the Rhode Island of the future a better place for our families to thrive. She is currently a member of the Portsmouth Democratic Town Committee, the Portsmouth Solid Waste and Recycling Committee, the Portsmouth Charter Review Committee and serves on the board for the Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus.

“As an advocate fighting for issues like women’s health and protecting our environment, I have seen the barriers to progress and suppression of the voices of voters,” said McGaw. “I am running for office because I want to provide representation that works proactively to protect our communities and our families.”

House District 71 is currently occupied by Dennis Canario, a Democrat.

Cynthia Mendes for Senate District 18

Cynthia Mendes

Cynthia Mendes has made Rhode Island her home for almost two decades. A single mother actively involved with volunteering to serve the most vulnerable in our community with her daughter by her side. She has worked in healthcare for many years and is an avid champion for medicare for all. Her work has sparked her commitment to use her voice to call for insurance companies to be held accountable for leaving local families both physically and financially at risk. She knows what it is like to work several jobs and still struggle to provide for her family. She has raised her voice and advocated for her community when needs of working families have been ignored. She is known for speaking up for those around her both personally and in her activism. As a candidate for State Senate for District 18 East Providence/Pawtucket she will fight for better wages and healthcare for all families.

“During my time as a health care professional, I have seen the stress and anxiety of worried mothers who can’t afford the care their children need,” said Mendes. “I will work hard to make sure that families who find themselves undercovered by their insurance can get the healthcare they need.”

Senate District 18 is currently occupied by William Conley Jr, a Democrat.

Jeanine Calkin for Senate District 30

Jeanine Calkin

Jeanine Calkin is a life-long Rhode Islander, and the daughter of middle class parents who were also born and raised in Rhode Island. She worked hard to put herself through college and holds a Master of Science degree in Information Systems from Bryant University. She worked for many years in the IT field managing financial systems, and saw how the profit motive of large corporations can affect workers. She became politically active in 2015 when she founded Rhode Island for Bernie Sanders. Jeanine then was elected to become a delegate to the National Democratic Convention. In 2016 she was elected to the Rhode Island State Senate to represent Warwick’s District 30 where she introduced legislation for a $15 minimum wage, single-payer healthcare and multiple bills to help protect our environment. She was also very vocal in speaking out and voting against bad bills. She now serves on the Executive Board of the Rhode Island Democratic Party’s Women’s Caucus, and is the Chair of Our Revolution Rhode Island.

“Growing up in a middle class working family, I know what it’s like to sometimes struggle to make ends meet,” said Calkin. “I will work hard to fight for living wages, and against income inequality and corporate welfare.”

Tiara Mack for Senate District 6

Tiara Mack

Tiara Mack is an educator and activist raised in the south (North of Atlanta and Columbia, South Carolina). She moved to Providence to attend Brown University in 2012 and fell in love with the city. She started my journey in education teaching sex ed in Providence schools as an undergraduate. Tiara previously worked in Providence as a Recruiter to ensure students have teachers that represent their backgrounds, experiences, and future selves. She now works as a Youth Organizer, empowering young people to engage in local and national social issues. Tiara is a Board Member of Women’s Health and Education Fund (WHEF) and of the East Side/Mt Hope YMCA.

“As an advocate and member of marginalized groups, I have experienced how our political system doesn’t work for us,” said Mack. “I will fight for economic, health, environment, and housing justice for all.”

Senate District 6 is currently occupied by Harold Metts, a Democrat.

Maggie Kain for Senate District 37

Maggie Kain

Maggie Kain is running for her first political office after becoming inspired by the recent active engagement of so many passionate Rhode Islanders into our state’s political process. Maggie is a long-standing employee at a local business and recently became a first-time homeowner in South Kingstown. Maggie was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2016 and is a founding board member of Our Revolution Rhode Island, an organization born from Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. Maggie considers herself lucky to be a long-time resident of South County and is excited for the opportunity to represent the shared values of her community.

“As a political activist, I see how fundamental change will continue to be prevented by the dysfunction in state government,” said Kain. “I will work to ensure that the needs and priorities of working people in Rhode Island are championed.”

Senate District 37 is currently occupied by Susan Sosnowski a Democrat.

Kendra Anderson for Senate District 31

Kendra Anderson

Kendra Anderson has been an activist for over 40 years having worked hard to bring reproductive rights to women back in the ’70s. She spent most of her working life in education and social service. Early on she was a case manager and teacher at Head Start and created a workshop training series for home daycare providers. More recently as an environmental educator she taught school children about energy efficiency, and is the outgoing President of Climate Action Rhode Island, where she led a large group of dedicated volunteers. Kendra currently teaches English to refugees and immigrants in order to help them transition to life here in Rhode Island. As an only parent to her son Jake, she often opened her home to friends who were struggling for housing or jobs helping them to get back on their feet. Kendra continues her advocacy and activism by fighting for the Reproductive Healthcare Act, environmental justice, and fair rules for the Rhode Island General Assembly.

“As a single mom, environmental activist, and teacher, I’ve worked hard so that others can live healthy lives and prosper,” said Anderson. “I’m running for State Senate because the rich and well-connected have taken over, leaving the majority of us behind. I’m committed to green job growth with a livable wage, strong schools where students have the means to thrive, and clean water and air for all.”

Senate District 31 is currently occupied by Erin Lynch Prata, a Democrat.

Zachary Colón for Warwick City Council Ward 9

Zachary Colón

Zachary Colón has lived in Warwick since he was two weeks old, and has been lucky to be able to live in the same home his whole life. He has a deep love for the city, and after attending Harold F Scott Elementary, Winman Jr High, and Toll Gate High, he feels the need to be part of the transformation of the city’s schools so they can become the best in the state. Zach organized and led a walkout of over one hundred Warwick high school students in December 2016 to protest the failure to adequately serve the needs of special education students. He is running to represent the people of the city, not the lawyers and career politicians currently running the city.

“As a lifelong resident of the city and a graduate of the Warwick public school system, I’ve seen the challenges facing our city and our schools,” said Colón. “I’m running for Warwick City Council in Ward 9 to demand educational, economic, social, and environmental justice, and to fight against political corruption in our city.”

Warwick City Council Ward 9 is currently occupied by Warwick City Council President Steve Merolla.

Melanie DuPont for Senate District 22

Melanie Dupont

46-year-old Smithfield native Melanie DuPont has lived in Rhode Island nearly her whole life. She serves as Secretary for the Executive Committee of the Rhode Island Democratic Party Women’s Caucus. A senior technical writer and computer whiz, Melanie writes policies, standards, processes, procedures, and guidelines for an information technology team. She lobbied with LGBTQ Action Rhode Island to successfully ban conversion therapy. Then she fought side by side with Planned Parenthood and The Womxn Project as they witnessed Senator Stephen Archambault‘s betrayal of his campaign promise to pass Reproductive Health Care Act; the team then rallied and passed the Reproductive Privacy Act in its place. Committed to lifelong learning and continuous improvement, Melanie earned her diploma from Vancouver Film School’s writing program in 2015, and is currently studying to become an Atlassian Certified Professional Confluence Administrator.

“As a professional communicator, I see the pain that poor communication causes,” said DuPont.” I will use my skills to speed the transfer of accurate information, so we legislate with insight, compassion, and efficiency.”

Senate District 22 is currently occupied by Stephen Archambault, a Democrat.

Nicholas Delmenico for House District 27

Nicholas Delmenico has spent his entire life living in the Crompton neighborhood of West Warwick and the Tiogue area of Coventry. He spent his childhood playing hockey for the West Bay Islanders out of the West Warwick Civic Center, learning the value of hard work, teamwork, and fair play, and continued to play hockey until graduating from Coventry High School. More recently Delmenico was a 2014 graduate of Leadership Rhode Island, a 2014 Providence Business News 40 Under Forty award recipient, and currently works as the production manager at Xzito Creative Solutions, a marketing and technology agency in Johnston.

“As a native Rhode Islander who has witnessed many political scandals, I have seen how the Speaker of the House runs the government through fear and intimidation, not respect and collaboration,” said Delmenico. “I will work with others in the House to take back our power and demand a government that actually works for all of us.”

House District 27 is currently occupied by Patricia Serpa, a Democrat.

Alex Hoffman for Senate District 1

Alex Hoffman

Alex Hoffman has lived in the North End of Providence for a decade. As a Rhode Island College graduate he’s held jobs in higher education, finance, technology, and media. His is a lifelong activist who has worked on LGBTQIA issues ranging from marriage equality to a ban on conversion therapy, and has help elect progressive women candidates. If elected, he would be the first openly trans representative to serve as a State Senator.

“Beginning my transition during the Bush Administration, I am no stranger to not having access to health care, education, or jobs that pay the bills,” said Hoffman. I’m running for office to fight for more comprehensive health care, affordable higher ed and trade schools, and a living wage so every Rhode Islander has a fair shot in life.”

Senate District 1 is occupied by Maryellen Goodwin, a Democrat.

Jessica Vega for Central Falls City Council Ward 5

Jessica Vega

For several years Jessica Vega has been a fierce advocate for children, youth, and families in the state of Rhode Island. She has experience working with a diverse population addressing their social, educational, and economic needs. She understands the many hardships families are facing due to her own personal experience growing up between Providence and Central Falls. Jessica believes that compassion and respect should be granted to all individuals and families.

“My vision is to give my community the tools they need to thrive,” said Vega. “Never imposing my will instead working collectively to solve issues facing OUR city.”

Jessica Vega is seeking re-election.

Jennifer Rourke for Senate District 29

Jennifer Rourke

Jennifer Rourke is an activist and leader who calls Warwick home. A mother to four children, she has been fighting to give a voice to the most marginalized communities for many years. Growing up in low-income housing and to teenage parents, she was taught to always fight for those that are often ignored. With her degree in Healthcare Management, she understands how the benefits of Medicare for All could help families like her own that have high premiums and struggle to pay medical bills. As a board member of many different organizations, Jennifer continues to amplify the needs of the people and not the corporations.

“Having grown up poor, I am fighting for those who have to decide whether to buy food or medicine, for our veterans who are often forgotten, for our children who deserve a better environment and schools,” said Rourke. “I am fighting to change not just the script but those that are writing it.”

Senate District 29 is currently occupied by Michael McCaffrey, a Democrat.

Jonathon Acosta for Senate District 16

Jonathan Acosta

Jonathon Acosta is a father, educator, Eagle Scout, youth wrestling coach, and doctoral student in sociology at Brown University. He was a middle school math teacher in Miami-Dade County and Central Falls before becoming an administrator. During this time, he earned an MA in Urban Education Policy at Brown University and implemented a district-wide teacher evaluation program in cultural competence. Jonathon is a member of the Juvenile Hearing Board and a City Councilman representing Ward 1 in Central Falls where he has been a strong voice for responsible green city planning, transparency in governance, and affordable housing. His academic work is in political sociology, social stratification, segregation, race, class, and ethnicity.

“In today’s world, freedom means the ability to pursue self actualization,” said Acosta. “That means all people should have their basic medical, educational, housing and employment needs met in order to live out their ideal lives. We need a state government that prioritizes people over corporations and protects us from weak gun policies, rising utility costs, structural discrimination, career politicians, and private interests.”

Senate District 16 is currently occupied by Elizabeth Crowley, a Democrat.

Monica Huertas for Providence City Council Ward 10

Monica Huertas

Monica Huertas is a mother, social worker, activist and graduate of Rhode Island College. Having overcome many obstacles in her life, she has made it her lifelong commitment to fight for the people and not the corporations. She resides in Providence with her husband and four children and is active on many boards including Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), Crossroads RI, and NO LNG in PVD.

“As an advocate for affordable housing and other programs to help our community, I have seen the struggles many families face,” said Huertas. “I will fight for better and healthier schools for our children, to make corporations pay their fair share of taxes, and continue to fight for affordable housing in our ward.”

Providence City Council Ward 10 is an open seat, and will be decided by a special election this year.

[From a press release]

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