Earlier this week State Representative-elect Brandon Potter (Democrat, District 16, Cranton) voted for Representative Joseph Sherkarchi (Democrat, District 23, Warwick) to be Rhode Island’s next Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. One of the most powerful positions in the entire state, the Speaker is responsible for determining which bills make it to the floor for vote, and designing the budget.
Why is this important?
This summer, Sunrise Providence endorsed Brandon Potter’s 2020 campaign for State Representative and worked hard to ensure that he was elected. We supported his campaign because he promised to fight for new leadership at the State House – leadership that will enact laws promoting racial justice, economic fairness, and a Green New Deal.
Immediately after winning his race, Brandon backtracked on his campaign promises and chose to vote for Joseph Shekarchi to be Rhode Island’s next Speaker of the House.
Who is Sherkarchi?
Before being elected House Speaker, Shekarchi served as former Speaker Mattiello’s second-in-command as the House Majority Leader. Shekarchi accepts large donations from the fossil fuel industry and police officer unions, as well as the finance, insurance, and real estate industries. Shortly after being nominated as the next House Speaker, he refused to commit to protecting funding for social services.
It’s difficult to understand how Brandon can portray his support for Shekarchi as a vote for “new leadership,” much less leadership that will advance legislation for bold racial, economic, and climate justice.
Brandon’s vote is more than a mere symbolic betrayal of his campaign promises. It directly undermines the policy platform that he claimed to support before the election. During his campaign, Brandon advocated for universal healthcare, a Green New Deal, publicly-financed elections, and extensive investment in affordable housing.
Shekarchi opposes all of these policies.
By helping to elevate Shekarchi to House Speaker, Brandon has made it exponentially harder to achieve any of these important policy goals.
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With this in mind, we have decided to retract our endorsement. We will continue fighting for a Green New Deal and a livable future, and we hope Brandon will join us in that fight.