Before Bill Gilbert sat down with me at a noisy coffee shop for 3 hours with me on Tuesday evening, he worked all day in a hardhat at his 9-5 job, managing the building of nuclear submarines for the United States Navy.
Gilbert likes to do things differently from the other candidates. The Moderate Party gubernatorial candidate comes off as your everyday blue-collar Rhode Islander that wants what is best for the state. He has a vision for what this state can be.
Education and destination are the two major points that Bill Gilbert is pushing during his 2018 campaign.
“I believe that Rhode Island is in this death spiral where taxes are driving people out. Things are getting more expensive, which is causing more people to leave. So we have to come up with a value proposition, and I think that’s education.”
Gilbert echoed how important it is for the younger generation to be educated, even if instead of college, the education is in some skill or vocation.
“We have a huge lack of vocational training nationally like plumbers and plasterers. I want to make the most-high tech, most advanced vocational center in the United States. Every company; Ford, Google, Amazon, Elon Musk, these guys are going to recognize us as an incubator for employees.”
Gilbert is willing to spend 75-80 million dollars on this state-of-the-art vocational school and is interested in building it in a town with a downtrodden economy such as Woonsocket or Pawtucket.
“People are leaving Woonsocket that have means, because there’s no value there. In Pawtucket with the loss of the stadium... Pawtucket could be great we have huge infrastructure there. What if we turned downtown Pawtucket into the most innovative processes and education center for the most innovative technology in America?”
The second main point of Gilbert’s campaign is the destination that the beautiful state of Rhode Island has the overwhelming potential to be. The part-time realtor wants Rhode Island to be known as “Destination RI” by everyone.
Gilbert talked about a few of his many ideas to make the state more tourist friendly, “We could have the world’s biggest wing festival in Wickford or the world’s largest chowder cook off.”
“In Providence I would want to turn Westminster Street into a Times Square type of feel, just pedestrians walking and have Rickshaws, small Buggies, little cars that go around the city in a loop. Soon enough it would become a destination.”
He feels as though the Ocean State lacks activities for people in their 20s to do saying, “As a 23 year-old in Rhode Island there is not much to do besides eat and that shouldn’t be the case. We do a crappy job of selling ourselves as a state.”
The former North Kingston Councilman feels as though a lot of the blame for our lackluster tourism has to do with the downfalls of the current Raimondo administration. He sees immense potential in what our state could become as a destination under his supervision.
“Rhode Island has to be a better deal. We gotta give people a reason to come, we gotta get them to be excited and we have to get them to see what we see in our great little state. Right now we have 4 tourism councils. I would defund them all and turn them into 1 central council so they’re not all fighting for the same dollar. We could kill Boston, we could kill Hartford, we get people to come for the beach, but how do we get them to stay for the night?!”
One noteworthy aspect about Gilbert’s gubernatorial campaign is that he refuses to take any donations from any people or companies. He wants the public to know that the more money a candidate has does not make them the superior candidate.
“I don’t want to take people’s money. I believe money is one of the things that hurt politics. I funded my campaign with 100,000 dollars, although I don’t plan on spending any of it. I just want people to know I could spend it, because people think it makes you less credible if you don’t spend a lot of money on your campaign.”
He continued to say, “The media certainly has biases towards some candidates. Just because they’re well known doesn’t mean they’re not awesome, just because they haven’t raise two million dollars doesn’t mean they’re not awesome either.
As a career submarine builder it makes plenty of sense that Bill Gilbert plans on doing a “deep dive” into Rhode Island’s ocean sized budget if he is elected as governor.
“We need to get into each department, and I want to make sure every government department [that we fund] is needed. We [Rhode Island] have a 9.8-billion-dollar budget and our roads still stink so what do we do with all that money? Let’s keep that money, but let’s put it where we need it. We want to reorganize and reallocate our government to be more efficient.”
For many Rhode Islanders they may have just heard of the Moderate Party or never heard of it before, so Gilbert defined the ideologies and beliefs of the party established in 2009.
“The Moderate Party is a loose collection of individuals that never felt like we fit in with the Republicans. We have very conservative views but not all of our views are conservative like the right to life and gun issues. We are more of a ‘depends party’ where we make our decisions depending on the issue at hand.”
Last election the Moderate Party made a big splash in Rhode Island politics when the late Bob Healey, formerly of the Cool Moose Party, ran as the Moderate candidate and won 22% of the vote in the main election.
Bill Gilbert explained, “What Bob Healey showed everyone was the dissatisfaction that people have had with the status quo of politics. All the votes Healey drew were people that were looking for honest, ethical government. I believe that Bob would have won if people didn’t think they were throwing their vote away by voting for him. People are looking for an honest, ethical leader to take them into the future and yes, if my message gets out I think I can capture their vote.”
When Gilbert was asked about the front runners in the Gubernatorial race seeming to be running away from debates he had a lot to say about them.
“Right now the state and city are crumbling around us, and we have two of our top front runners not debating and the other running around in a chicken suit. I don’t think it would be a good idea for Patricia Morgan to debate me. It’s in her best interest not to, although I would love to sit next to her, and compare and contrast our styles. I don’t think it would be a good idea for her to debate Raimondo or Fung either, but I welcome the idea and I would fund and pay for it!"
Not only is Gilbert not a fan of the other candidates avoiding debates, he is also critical of their candidacies.
“I see a weak field and I think that shows when our top candidates only have an approval rating of 40%. No candidate in the field has me excited.”
Speaking about the incumbent he said, “I believe Gina chose not to run the state. She showed us where her priorities were. Instead she focused on New York, California, and fundraising.”
He continued to speak about the Mayor of Cranston, “Allan Fung should be disqualified from ever holding another office again because of what he did in Cranston with ‘Ticket Gate’.”
This is referring to the scandal in Cranston when Mayor and Republican Gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung was alleged to tell his officers to go around the city giving out tickets to reach a quota for the month. Gilbert said on this, “White collar crime hurts more people than petty crime ever did. If I become Governor, I will crack down hard on the white collar crime we have here in Rhode Island.”
Bill Gilbert hopes to bring those big ideas to the Rhode Island State House come November. He wants Rhode Islanders to understand that they are not throwing their vote away by voting for him and the Moderate Party, and that he is going to make this state reach the great potential that it has through education and destination.
For more information on Bill Gilbert’s campaign you can find him on Social Media at:
Friends of William Gilbert on Facebook
@ModeratePartyRI on Twitter
The Moderate Party website rimoderateparty.org
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