Politics & Elections

Heated District 62 (Pawtucket) forum highlights stark differences between candidates

Candidates Mary Messier, Kinverly Dicupe and Wayne Charbonneau answered questions on economic justice, energy costs, climate change, policing, school resource officers, LEOBoR, the state budget, education and much more.
Photo for Heated District 62 (Pawtucket) forum highlights stark differences between candidates

Published on August 18, 2022
By Steve Ahlquist

The George Wiley Center in Pawtucket held a forum on Wednesday night featuring all three candidates for House District 62 (Pawtucket). The incumbent, Mary Messier, has served in the position since 2009 and run unopposed since 2016. Her opponents are Kinverly Dicupe, who describes herself as working class and Republican Wayne Charbonneau, who works at a granite company.

Questions were asked by members of the George Wiley Center. In the videos below, the questions are printed and the answers from the candidates are in separate videos. In more than a few instances candidates responded to each other or there were impromptu follow up questions from attendees. These videos are clearly marked.

There were 20 prepared questions, and candidates were supplied the prepared questions in advance. The last six questions were asked by attendees, so candidates had no advance notice.

Opening statements:

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Economic JusticeL Income and Wealth Inequality

Question 1: In the United States the most common cause of bankruptcy is the cost of healthcare. In 2019, 29% of Americans didn’t take their medications because their prescriptions were too expensive, causing many to either skip doses or not take their medication at all. The United States is the wealthiest country in the world but it is only 26th regarding lifespan expectancy and even rose for BIPOC communities. Do you support a single payer universal healthcare system?

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Question 2: Do you believe we should overhaul tax rates for the rich in Rhode Island to create a progressive tax structure?

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Question 3: Do you support an (at least) $19 minimum wage in Rhode Island?

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Energy Justice and a Just Transition

Question 4: With the combined impacts of climate change and inflation along with our dependency on global fossil fuel energy sources, it is clear that we need to provide affordable fossil free energy solutions. Committing to goals towards a just transition is essential. Will you pursue research into effective ways to reduce energy costs and transition to renewables including but not limited to expanding and municipalization of energy production within the City of Pawtucket?

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Question 5: How would you make utilities more affordable? How will you work to pass PIPP (Percentage Income Payment Plan) on the state level, that will allow low-income households to afford utilities by making rates based on our incomes? PIPP legislation has been pending for many years. How would you pressure the House Speaker to allow a floor vote on PIPP?

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Question 6: What is your time and how would you fund a just transition to clean, renewable energy source? What will you do to assure that jobs created through the transition good (union) jobs that provide living wages, in the green/wind/blue jobs sector?

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Question 7: Rhode Island imports the majority of its energy. How would you increasingly take utilities out of the market by creating nonprofit, coops and/or municipalization of our utilities? (For example, municipalization of street lighting, wind, water, community solar and other possible sources of energy like tidal, etc.)

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Question 8: Will you work to expand social services and support agencies that provide food assistance, mental health, housing support, healthcare, ESOL/literacy education, childcare and other social services to support immigrant/refugee communities, seniors, disabled people and the unemployed? If so, how?

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Question 9: Would you work to preserve greenspace and expand support for community gardens that provide good, social connectivity and environmental benefits?

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Question 10: Will you seek to assure rent stabilization for all residents of Pawtucket, including at-risk households such as elderly, disabled, immigrants and low-income families?

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Question 11: Would you be willing to facilitate additional emergency shelters to provide habitable short-term living space to vulnerable populations?

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Question 12: Do you vow to find ways to increase funding for public education in Pawtucket, including but not limited to assuring large scale developers contribute their fair share?

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Question 13: Would you oppose the creation of a mayoral academy charter in Pawtucket?

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Restorative Justice

Question 14: Do your support the repeal of the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights (LEOBoR) at the state level?

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Question 15: Will you work to replace School Resource Officers (SROs) in Pawtucket School with school counselors, mental health workers, social workers, and resource workers?

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Question 16: Do you support an independent 3rd party Police Review Commission composed of pawtucket residents who are not related to or living with law enforcement officers?

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Question 17: Do you support the reallocation of state and city funds from the Pawtucket Police Department to community services?

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Question 18: Do you support a public city forum (similar to a truth and reconciliation commission hearing) on the history of racist policing and state violence in Pawtucket as a step towards recognizing past harm and building new rotes toward true public safety?

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Question 19: Do you commit to increasing support or local artists and cultural organizations that provide opportunities for Pawtucket artists and cultural workers, especially communities of color, women, and LGBTQIA+ people?

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Question 20: If a state budget is put forward that you find to be promoting economic austerity proposals that offer very little concessions to the issues above, would you vote your opposition to the budget?

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Question 21 (From the audience): We all know that the budget comes out the night before it’s being voted on.

Mary Messier: No, no. That’s not true.

Audience member: Let me finish my question. How often do you look at the budget and see what’s in it before you vote on it?

Mary Messier:

Kinverly Dicupe:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Question 22 (from the audience) is a follow up to Question 16: Mary Messier expressed doubts about an independent 3rd party Police Review Commission because members of the public may not know how police departments work. Isn’t that what a jury is? You get people who are not related to those involved who are not familiar with what happened but are ordinary citizens who are called upon to make that judgement.

Mary Messier:

Kinverly Dicupe:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Question 23: Kinverly, you spoke about the Pawtucket police not being held accountable because of the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights. Can you cite specific incidents?

Kinverly Dicupe:

Mary Messier:

Question 24 (From audience member): As an outreach worker serving Pawtucket residents, all I can do is give someone new clothes and a sleeping bag. We need more housing.

Mary Messier:

Follow up (From audience member): Pawtucket has no shelter for those experiencing homelessness.

Mary Messier:

Kinverly Dicupe:

Question 25: Many of our state agencies, particularly Rhode Island DHS, are not hiring people into jobs with good union pay, but instead relying on independent contractors to supply short term temporary workers, including from companies like Deloitte which oversaw the UHIP disaster a few years back that cause suffering for the most vulnerable Rhode Islanders. Can we hire more workers instead of relying on out-of-state companies and temporary workers?

Mary Messier:

Kinverly Dicupe:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Question 26 (from audience member): How do you reconcile the $60 million given to a new sports stadium with our inability to properly care for our most vulnerable populations such as the homeless, for whom there seems to be a lack of funds?

Mary Messier:

Follow up (From audience member): The stadium will not be able to pay for itself. That’s just not how the math works out.

Mary Messier:

Kinverly Dicupe:

In the following exchange, Kinverly Dicupe explains that Mary Messier takes money from State House lobbyists who support the soccer stadium, which Representative Messier denies, then admits, saying that the lobbyists in question lobby for many issues, not just the soccer stadium.

A woman in the audience accused Kinverly Dicupe of “racism” because she noted that Mary Messier is an “upper-class white woman” in this tweet:

Closing statements:

Mary Messier:

Wayne Charbonneau:

Kinverly Dicupe:

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