After allegations surfaced that he had misled a group of Warren Town Council candidates about campaign expenditures, Representative-elect Laufton Ascencao vacated his would-be house seat prior to be sworn in. On March 5th, a special election will be held for the vacated HD-68 seat, pitting Democrat June Speakman, independent Ken Marshall, Libertarian William Hunt and independent James R. McCanna III against each other.
Identical questionnaires were delivered to each of the four candidates, the answers to which will be published on 990wbob.com to help voters within the district choose the candidate that will be the best representation of the area.
June Speakman, the candidate representing the Democratic Party, believes that she would serve her community well.
BILL BARTHOLOMEW: If elected, what are some the specific ways you would work to make elections and state government more open and accountable?
JUNE SPEAKMAN: With regard to elections, I support the Secretary of State’s proposal for early voting. That will certainly make it easier for more Rhode Islanders to cast their ballots.
I’d like to see the General Assembly engage in more oversight of executive agencies to ensure that the taxpayers money is being spent properly and wisely. DCYF is a good example of an agency with a difficult mission that appears not to be working well. The legislature can bring accountability to that situation by having conversations with administrators to determine the true extent of the problem and to address it.
BB: What are some of the key issues that you believe can forge inter-party and intra-party coalitions within the House, and what are your positions on those issues?
JS: Legislators of both parties agree that something must be done to address the education system, although there is disagreement on what that is.
And of course, all legislators want to provide high quality services without raising taxes, and that we must protect our fragile coastline. The devil is in the details on all of these issues, but I look forward to working with colleagues from across the political spectrum to address them.
BB: Would you identify yourself as someone likely to be a part of “The Reform Caucus?” Do you believe that power should be less consolidated within The General Assembly?
JS: All representative bodies should operate in a way that allows every member to represent the interests of his or her constituents openly and responsibly. That means that members should be able to propose legislation, expect it to receive a fair hearing and move to the floor after committee hearings. It is, of course, important for chamber leadership to process this business in an orderly fashion, given the volume of work to be done in a short time.
BB: What makes you uniquely qualified to serve HD 68 in The House?
JS: My fourteen years’ experience in municipal government during which I interacted with many state and federal officials and state departments, along with my many years of academic experience teaching and researching politics and policy provide me with the knowledge, perspective and decision-making skills needed to represent the residents of District 68.
Bill Bartholomew is a podcast host, producer and musician based in Providence, RI. Listen to Bartholomewtown Radio Hour LIVE every Tuesday at 6pm on 990wbob.com
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