Thoughts From the Campaign Trail

East Greenwich needs to lead by example. Find ways to cut spending and lower taxes if you want the State to sit up and take notice.

The big thing in campaign circles seems to be how many doors have you knocked on. But it’s about a lot more; it’s what people are saying. That’s what counts. And what are they saying? Well, conventional wisdom suggests that because East Greenwich is affluent, her citizens are largely unflustered by the economic worries of so many others. Not so. Even the wealthiest of residents, maybe the top ten-percent, are concerned for the health of their businesses and the prognosis for Rhode Island. Besides them, there is a substantial percentage who are extremely frustrated by how bad things have gotten, but they personally are doing “okay.” There is also an inevitable few who are so well cocooned that nothing perturbs them. And then there are those who are just hanging on, doing whatever it takes to live up to the East Greenwich image, even so – in the words of one woman – “It’s killing them.” And there are more in this predicament than I had imagined.

Perhaps this is why so many people have thrown their hats into the ring for the District 30 seat. It’s encouraging to see so much interest: Three Republicans, two Independents (last I knew) and one Democrat. As many as six people, all with unique perspectives on how to help our struggling State. That’s healthy engagement, and it’s exactly what’s needed if we’re to find our way out of the morass which ensnares Rhode Island.  

On the other hand, there are many seats going uncontested in the General Assembly. Uncontested! How can so many Rhode Islanders be so complacent? It boggles the mind, and it has gotten this way because our two-party system is utterly broken. Like a punch line to a bad joke, Rhode Island is what happens when there has been a prolonged and grotesque imbalance of power. We get leadership following practices and procedures that are not merely entrenched, they are metastasized – like holding important bills to the last minute and then rushing them through in a late night cram session; suppressing debate on issues that might conflict with their interests; coddling an evolved system of crony rewards; and so on and so forth.

So how can East Greenwich make a difference? We can start by sending someone determined to relentlessly press the General Assembly to cut spending. Of course, the irony is that no matter who we send, he will be hamstrung from the moment he walks into the well of the House: If we send an Independent, he will be all alone; if we send a Republican, he will be one of a token handful; and if we send a Democrat who dares challenge the leadership on Smith Hill, he will have his hands figuratively lopped off. No matter who we send, that person’s effectiveness will hinge completely on his ability to persuade – not to brow-beat, not to fume, but to relentlessly persuade, trying tack upon tack upon tack seeking ways to break through the blockade.

But even that’s not enough. If East Greenwich wants to make a difference in the downward course of our State, we must lead by example. Which brings me back to the beginning of my train of thought. While we can be proud of our Town’s ability to attract so many accomplished people to live here, we must also be careful not to push long term residents – many of whom built the foundations upon which we now stand – out the back door. In the last 15 years, I do not believe our town taxes have ever gone down – not in real dollars collected. What sort of message do you think it would send the State if we cinched up our own belt a few notches?

Dean Fachon, Candidate District 30 House Representative

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Chuck Newton August 23, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Some good points, Dean. Uncontested seats are one (unfortunate) thing, and low levels of engagement in the process both permit fewer and fewer people to make decisions that affect all of us. I'm reminded of an advertising campaign I helped put together in Massachusetts many moons ago. The tag line was simply "If you don't vote, you have no one to blame but yourself." Still true today. And for those who still find politics too 'gritty' for their own tastes, I suggest they get involved and help the rest of us get it back on the high road...
Karen Paley August 24, 2012 at 10:25 AM
The state of RI silently eliminated itemized tax deductions last year. This cost me money as I have a lot of medical expenses. The option to itemize deductions should be restored.
Mark Loomis August 24, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Stop handing out-of-state sports stars $75M in one swell foop 'cause we have stars in our eyes. Spread the wealth we don't have, in smaller parcels among in-state business start-ups who truly plan to stay and hire us and work in our communities...


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