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Politics & Elections

West Broadway Neighborhood Association holds legislator forum

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State and city elected officials answered questions were about education, climate change, Port of Providence, taxes, guns and more…


The West Broadway Neighborhood Association (WBNA) held their annual Conversation with Our Elected Officials on Monday evening, posing questions to members of both the Rhode Island General Assembly and the Providence City Council.

The event began with each elected official spending a minute or two introducing themselves:

Representative Anastasia Williams (Democrat, District 9, Providence):

Senator Ana Quezada (Democrat, District 2, Providence):

Senator Samuel Bell (Democrat, District 5, Providence):


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Providence City Councilor Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11):

Providence City Councilor Rachel Miller (Ward 13):

Representative John Lombardi (Democrat, District 8, Providence):

To the state legislators:

The state’s education funding formula, designed for equitable state funding for Rhode Island schools is currently under review, in committee, at the State House. Unfortunately the current formula does not include many core costs, such as pensions, food service, transportation, utilities, building maintenance and more, which ultimately leads to harmful cuts at the local level to teachers and resources that directly serve our kids. What will you do to ensure that the education funding formula is changed to include core costs like pensions, as Massachusetts does in its formula, as well as other unavoidable core costs?

To the City Councilors:

There are some red cities and states in the United States that have voted against their party lines in order to support their public schools. Specifically they have supported tax increases to support public education. The Providence City Council has been steadfast in its position against raising taxes over the years. Would you be willing to start this conversation or seek other ways to raise revenue specifically for the funding of our city’s schools?

To the state legislators:

Do you support the Act on Climate 2020 bill that would keep our government accountable to 100 percent greenhouse gas emissions by 2050?

To the City Councilors:

Do you support the Climate Justice Plan and how are you supporting the Climate Justice Plan in Providence?

Air filtration systems in Providence’s grammar schools could help reduce the heavy absenteeism due to asthma. Is this idea achievable?

There are currently three bills dealing with Alzheimer’s at the State House. Do you support them?

To the City Councilors:

The city’s Great Streets initiative is underway and big changes are coming to the streets of Providence that will make our streets safer, more equitable and more sustainable. But change is hard and people often fight against it. How will you stand up for healthy and necessary change even if it is unpopular at first? How can residents supportive of the changes better support you so the inevitable negativity is easier to weather?

A question about guns, and what Providence can do to prevent gun violence.

During state takeovers of districts in other cities, many leaders have looked to school privatization as a reform method through the expansion of charter schools. Unfortunately these actions have not led to better results for these districts and have left the traditional school districts with even fewer resources and funding to educate some of the city’s most vulnerable kids. How will you advocate for and ensure that our traditional Providence public schools are put front and center in terms of being given the resources and support they so desperately need during the state takeover of Providence public schools?

The streets are a mess. They are filthy. What can be done?

What are your thoughts on how the activities in the Port of Providence and Allens Avenue affect your constituents’ health and well-being?

Do the candidates have any comments for their constituents?

We are often told that one of the structural issues in Providence regarding taxes is that the many no-profits in the city own so much land, and do not pay taxes on that land, putting an extra burden on homeowners in Providence. What are your thoughts on that?

Are any politicians exempt from paying their taxes?