Letter to the Editor: Attacks Against Caldwell, Valverde Aren’t About Policy

by | Oct 13, 2020

I am joining Mike Donegan in my support of Rep. Justine Caldwell and Sen. Bridget Valverde. Both Rep. Caldwell and Sen. Valverde supported East Greenwich in realigning our commercial tax rate, unemployment reimbursement, and advocating for COVID-19 reimbursement from the state. They have attended local meetings for both the schools and town regarding budgets and other issues. They have met with town and school officials to discuss matters of local importance. They more importantly did not align their votes with the leadership despite opposition claims. Recent campaign attacks have had little to do with policy. 

The recent split of our commercial rate from our residential rate which both opposition candidates indicated that they felt was a poor idea. Yet 19 out of 39 RI towns have a higher commercial rate than residential rate. We worked with the EG Chamber of Commerce to work to give a discount rate to smaller businesses. Rep. Caldwell and Sen Valverde helped introduce this at the statehouse and worked with the town to get it passed. Why are their opposition candidates opposed to giving relief to our residents for the benefit of a few? 

The current silence of the RIGOP and its candidates choosing not to speak up at some of the more alarming rhetoric coming out of Washington speaks of a lack of compassion and political will. I do not want someone to represent me or my family who listens in silence while a leader mocks or undermines people they do not agree with or who looks different, or remains silent during attacks by this administration upon the military and the laws that govern this state and nation or continues to stay silent during false claims about voting and scientific fact. We need our local GA leaders to work with the town, not for their party alone. Both of the opposition candidates are strong supporters of Mr. Trump and have not backed down despite all. 

One of the acts of the current administration is the rollback or elimination of environmental laws. The Clean Water Rule which the Trump administration rolled back, allows more pollution in our local fresh waterways. 30 percent of RI is dependent on well water, including most of western East Greenwich. This is our drinking water.  This will all flow into Narragansett Bay ultimately. The Bay is an important part of our economy, both as a working body of water as well as tourist dollars. 

I may not always agree with Rep. Caldwell or Sen. Valverde but we’ve always been able to work through our differences. At this time with the current Supreme Court nominee and the GOP leadership, the right of Rhode Island to ensure reproductive health, the ACA, advocating for the needs of special education students, COVID-19 relief and common sense gun legislation are paramount. These items are popular with the majority of Rhode Islanders yet opposition candidates would claim otherwise. 

I think East Greenwich is a great town to live and work. I am fortunate to live in town with so many people with different views and backgrounds. We all have so much to contribute. We have some big challenges ahead with the Covid crisis but we can persevere with help from our current local representatives. 

(These views are mine alone and do not represent the EG Town Council.)

Renu Englehart

Renu Englehart is a member of the East Greenwich Town Council; she is seeking reelection.

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October 14, 2020 6:45 am

I disagree. As appalling as the current administration may be, asking local politicians to decry it creates a whole other level of debate. I served as Deputy Secretary of State in Vermont for four years and the custom was to keep local government separate from national politics.

Renu englehart
Renu englehart
October 14, 2020 9:59 am
Reply to  Jean

Jean, thanks for your thoughts. The nat’l GOP has typically supported smaller federal govt giving an inordinate amount of decision making to state govts. I am concerned about state candidates who align themselves to the current GOP party (in the past I have voted for GOP candidates locally). If someone who is running can’t separate from hateful speech or lies that come out of Washington (which should be easy), I find that disturbing. I think RI needs 2 competent parties but currently I do not find that in the state GOP. I also want someone who will work with our council on decisions on the state level not to ignore or deride them.

Johann PatlAk
Johann PatlAk
October 14, 2020 11:26 am
Reply to  Jean

As a Vermont boy, thanks for your service to the state! Vermont has a proud tradition of independent-minded politicians and voters. These are the folks who voted for both Jim Jeffords and Bernie Sanders. These days, though, even the incumbent Republican Gov. Phil Scott has been very clear that he is not voting for Trump.

Tony DiBella
Tony DiBella
October 14, 2020 9:38 am

With regard to the he-said, she-said exchange in the Caldwell-Giarrusso election, what comes to my mind are words from Dragnet, a 1960s TV program – “Just the fact ma’am”.

Is the following statement true or false:

“The long-awaited School Education Funding Formula was established in 2010, two years before Anthony Giarrusso was elected as State Representative for East and West Greenwich.”

If true, then neither candidate can take credit for it.

Elizabeth McNamara
October 14, 2020 10:50 am
Reply to  Tony DiBella

Neither candidate is taking credit for the funding formula. Rep. Caldwell did work to secure extra state funding for the EG schools for FY2020.

Mike Donegan
Mike Donegan
October 15, 2020 2:29 pm

Councillor Englehart’s letter provides important information for our residents to consider when making their decisions in this election. Much of that information may not be known to those who have been unable to attend Town Council meetings (in person or online). The overarching point she is making is that Representative Caldwell and Senator Valverde have been great partners with the Town Council who have advanced the issues important to our community, including those that greatly reduced the tax burden on our residents. I agree and note that every member of the Town Council is supporting Representative Caldwell and Senator Valverde for this very reason. Re-electing both will mean that East Greenwich will continue to have effective representation at the General Assembly that has delivered on key issues important to our residents, including those that have reduced the tax burden on our residents. Having proven and effective representation will be even more critical going forward, as we are going to need real legislative help to navigate the financial and health impacts associated with this pandemic.

As to whether or not Mr. Giarrusso and Mr. Callanan should defend more national issues, their support of President Trump and their support of President Trump’s policies, I agree with Jean’s comment that State elections should address State issues. The one exception to that is where a candidate himself brings his support for those more national issues into the local election. With that in mind, I note that Mr. Giarrusso ran a public campaign in RI to become a Trump Delegate, was elected in RI as a Trump Delegate and currently serves in RI as a Trump Delegate. That campaign and his status as a Trump Delegate happened in RI under RI laws governing RI elections. Another example of Mr. Giarrusso bringing national Trump issues to RI was when he was serving East Greenwich in the RI General Assembly. Then-Representative Giarrusso used his time at the General Assembly, when he was supposed to be doing real work for his constituents, to draft and introduce a Resolution lauding Donald Trump and congratulating him for becoming President. He did this instead of using that time as our elected representative to advance legislation that would help our residents. So, while I agree with Jean’s point generally, the one exception I see is when a candidate himself has brought these national issues into his State campaign and work himself, as Mr. Giarrusso has done.


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