Submitted by Justine Caldwell
To the Editor:
Two years ago, I defeated Anthony Giarrusso to become the state representative for House District 30, which includes all of East Greenwich. He clearly hasn’t gotten over it.
Anthony literally pledged himself to Donald Trump, so you know that telling the truth isn’t very important to him.
Now, like Trump, he’s launching a campaign based totally on untruths, revisionist history, and bluster about what he’ll do if you elect him this time – things he failed to do in six years in office. He thinks if he spreads enough misinformation, puts up enough signs, buys enough giant banner ads, and spends enough money, you’ll forget why you voted the way you did in 2018.
The choice voters face in this election isn’t very complicated. It’s about how candidates approach the job, and what values candidates will bring to that job. You’ve seen both Anthony and I in office, so it’s easy to compare.
One of the things people ask me the most is what I’ve learned since I was elected and served two years as your representative.
What I’ve learned is that when you hold this office, you have a lot of opportunities to help the people of your district. But to take advantage of those opportunities, you have to listen well, work hard, and be honest with people.
When I was elected, I stood up to leadership. I helped reform the House rules so that, for example, representatives and the public have 24 hours to review bills before they are voted on.
But when budget time came, I worked collaboratively with leadership, and was able to add almost a million dollars in state aid for East Greenwich schools to help fill the gap created by the disastrous 2017-2018 Town Council that Anthony supported.
When you listen well, work hard, and are honest, you can work with everyone — from House leaders, to the most progressive Democrats in the House, to the most conservative Republicans — even after you disagree.
You can also work with people outside the House to benefit the community.
I’m proud to have worked with Governor Raimondo and state agencies so that Rhode Island has had one of the most robust responses to the COVID-19 pandemic of any state. Anthony absurdly blames the pandemic on Rhode Island House Democrats, rather than putting the blame where it belongs — with the president he supports, Donald Trump.
I’m also proud to have worked with local governments. I worked with the Town Council to restructure the tax system in East Greenwich so that we could keep taxes low on residents. I heard over and over how refreshing it was for the town to finally have an ally at the State House who listened and worked on their behalf. They didn’t get that with Anthony. All five town councilors support my re-election. None support Anthony.
But there are even more opportunities to make a difference if you work hard. I’ve worked with federal officials to get residents and businesses the federal aid they needed during the pandemic. I’ve worked with utility companies to make sure our neighbors have gotten the help they need. I know that representing you means representing you everywhere – where you live, where you work, where you send your kids to school, every place that matters to you and your family.
The other part of the job is about the values you bring to your work. Anthony and I have different values, and I think mine represent the people of this district.
I’m the lead sponsor of a package of gun safety bills – to ban the sale and importation of assault weapons, ban high-capacity magazines, and mandate that guns be stored safely when not in use. I hear about gun safety all the time talking with the people of our district. I also went to a gun range, met with gun owners, and heard their concerns — because I represent them, too. Anthony, by contrast, values the support of the NRA, and during his six years, voted with them every single time. He even voted against a law that took guns away from convicted domestic abusers.
I value the safety of domestic violence victims more than the gun “rights” of their abusers. Anthony does not.
And this is 2020; Anthony’s values are out of step with our community.
I got my start organizing with the LGBTQ+ community. Anthony voted against same-sex marriage three times, and said in 2018 he’d do it again if he got the chance. With the Supreme Court vacancy, we can’t afford to give him that chance.
I’ve always stood up for women and families at the State House, and worked to be a role model for our kids, and especially young girls. By contrast, when the House held a training on sexual harassment, Anthony skipped it and went on right-wing talk radio to brag about skipping it. He said he didn’t need it. Not taking workplace sexual harassment seriously is unacceptable in 2020.
I’m supported by Climate Action Rhode Island. Anthony voted against the 2014 climate change bill.
I’m also supported by the Substance Use Policy, Education and Recovery PAC. I’m supported by gun safety groups like Moms Demand Action and the Rhode Island Coalition against Gun Violence. The two groups that support Anthony are fringe groups – the NRA, which is in court accused of defrauding its members, and the Gaspee Project (whose “research” Anthony likes to cite), which is illegally concealing its donors in violation of Rhode Island campaign finance law.
Anthony enthusiastically supports Donald Trump, even after the last four years. I do not.
So I don’t want to turn back the clock. I think it would be wrong for our district if we did.
Thank you for electing me in 2018. I’ve worked hard, learned a lot, and brought our values to the State House. There is much more work to do – I’ve made a lot of progress building support for the high-capacity magazine ban, for example, getting over half my House colleagues to co-sponsor it. I hope to earn two more years in November, and I hope I will earn your vote.
If you need any help, have any questions, or there are any issues you’d like to discuss, please don’t hesitate to contact me at (401) 212-7320 or [email protected].
Rep. Justine Caldwell
Justine Caldwell is running for reelection in House Dist. 30.
Explain your ‘Evergreen Contract’ vote crippling your Town Council you ‘so strongly support’? Your town council is now *suing* the state for that law. Go:
I truly don’t understand the staunch opposition to the Evergreen bill. From the act’s verbiage: “This act would provide that all terms and conditions in a school teachers’ collective bargaining agreement as well as a municipal employees’ collective bargaining agreement shall remain in effect while the parties are engaged in negotiations and/or certain dispute resolution processes and would provide that contractual provisions related to wages and benefits, excluding those that limit layoffs, would continue as agreed to, despite the lack of an agreement following mediation or arbitration until a successor agreement is reached.” This is common practice and decency. It concerns the time when a contract has expired, and negotiations are occurring. It boils down to “after contract expiration, while we’re negotiating, nothing changes.” This prevents the towns from unilaterally slashing teacher salaries, benefits etc. from the previous (agreed upon) contract levels after the contract has expired, something that really is an unfair negotiation tactic for the towns and potentially deeply impacts the livelihoods of our teachers. I believe, in RI, police and firefighters have greater protections here, but teachers and other municipal workers do not. I have worked in the private sector by contract for 20 years, and no client of mine with would ever try a tactic like this. It’s bad faith negotiating and would damage their reputation. Apparently, the towns, including East Greenwich, feel that losing this tactic is important enough to take to court, but restoring this balance to pre-2009 levels is the right thing to do, in my opinion. They must presume that allowing continuation will slow negotiations or perhaps be used as a union tactic to avoid negotiations altogether. Maybe, but that ignores a lot of history of concessions in the past and presumes that the teachers and their unions have no interest in the towns’ fiscal health. It also presumes that the unions and teachers are satisfied with their current contracts in perpetuity. I hear many complain that the unions and teachers are always asking for more, costing taxpayers too much, but suddenly keeping the current contracts in place is a bad thing? I can see this law being leveraged by the towns as often as it hurts them, frankly. But again, really it comes down to decency. If someone deployed a tactic like this on you in your personal or professional life, there is no way you would think it fair. Under the guise of fighting for taxpayer dollars and conservatism, it’s acceptable? Just treat people fairly, seems that simple.
With a master’s degree in English from URI, Ms. Caldwell writes, “You’ve seen both Anthony and I in office.” Grammar counts, as does decorum. You can disagree with your opponent, but it would be more respectful to refer to him by his last name just as you refer to the Governor by hers.
Just for JUSTINE. That’s it.