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Candidate for Governor Matt Brown receives standing ovation in Burrillville



“So first of all I want to thank all of you,” Matt Brown said to the 40 or so people gathered at the First Universalist Church of Burrillville to meet the newly announced Democratic candidate for Governor of Rhode Island. “Because you have been doing this fight here, leading this fight, for almost three years. And not just all the people of Burrillville but all the people of the state and not just this state but the whole region owe you a debt of gratitude… You are fighting not just for yourselves but for the state, the region and generations to come.”

Brown was talking about Invenergy‘s planned $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant aimed at the heart of the pristine forests of northwest Rhode Island and the Burrillville community’s efforts to stop the company from destroying our environment and locking our state into decades of fossil fuel use.

“So I wanted to come and tell you that I’m going to do everything I can to help you and support you to make sure this plant is never built,” said Brown. “Of all the crazy and backwards things being done in our state right now, building a fracked gas plant in the middle of a forest in 2018 is the craziest and backwards-ist of all.”

Brown sees the welcoming reception the power plant received from state leaders early on as an example of the ever increasing power of corporations over the rights and needs of people. “I think they thought the people here would just take it,” said Brown. “That the people here weren’t connected enough, or didn’t have enough money, not enough power in the political system and that you would just roll over and take it. And the fact is, they were wrong.”

The situation in Burrillville “is similar to what’s going on in Providence with the LNG facility,” said Brown. National Grid wants to build a liquefaction facility in the Port of Providence, and area residents are trying to prevent being burdened with yet more polluting fossil fuel infrastructure. “It’s not a coincidence that they’re putting that in South Providence where they thought the people there would just have to take and they’re not taking it either.”

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Brown spoke and took questions for about two hours. He spoke about his plan, outlined in his Providence Journal oped, to get Rhode Island converted completely to renewable energy, solar and wind, by 2035. He spoke about his idea for a state bank, similar to the one in North Dakota that allowed that state to weather the great recession with relative comfort. He also spoke about the wasteful practice of luring businesses to our state with tax payer handouts. “That’s not an economy,” said Brown.

“I have a few questions, I want to make it into one big long one,” said Burrillville resident Julia O’Rourke. “What is your stance on abortion, what is your stance on gun control, marriage equality, what’s your plan for the opiate crisis we have here in Rhode Island, and are you being backed by any unions?”

“That wasn’t one question at all,” said Brown. “Just because you don’t take a breath doesn’t make it one question…

“Pro-choice,” answered Brown. “I think we need gun control, we need to not have military style weapons in our communities… I’m for gay marriage, I think anybody should be able to marry who they love… and the opioid crisis…” is complicated.

Brown sees the opioid crisis and the gun issue in similar ways. Big corporate powers are responsible for a good portion of the problem and they are not being taken to task. And no unions have backed his campaign, yet.

At the end of the question and answer session, Burrillville resident Lynn Clark said to Brown, “I just want to say thank you so much. You know this has been a long, hard battle and it’s a breath of fresh air to have someone come out here that really gets it, that sees us and hears what we’re trying to do here. So thank you.”

Then, to his apparent surprise, Brown got a standing ovation.

Here’s all the video, I apologize for some picture drop out early on, though the audio is uninterrupted. Burrillville resident Donna Woods emceed the event:

Matt Brown

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.