Local General Assembly Contests Take Shape

by | Jun 24, 2020

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

The three General Assembly members who represent East Greenwich, all Democrats, have filed to run for reelection in 2020 –Sen. Bridget Valverde in District 35; Sen. Lou Raptakis in District 33; and Rep. Justine Caldwell in District 30. They each face a Republican challenger: Charles Callanan for Senate District 35; Jose Benitez for Senate District 33; and Anthony Giarrusso for House District 30. 

The race for House District 30 – made up of all of East Greenwich and a small portion of West Greenwich – is the same contest we saw in 2018, but with the roles reversed. Caldwell, then a newcomer, is now the incumbent, with Giarrusso fighting to return to the House to expand on his previous six years there. 

“It has been such an honor to represent you in the R.I. House of Representatives,” Caldwell wrote on Facebook announcing her candidacy. “What started out as such a long shot has transformed into real meaningful work being done for the state and the people who have given me so much. From rules changes to more funding for education to women’s health to helping our community and local businesses through a pandemic, we made progress; but, there is still so much more to do. I’m asking for your trust, and your vote, again.”

Republican Giarrusso, a businessman, said he’s running to regain his seat because he’s gotten a lot of encouragement “from both sides of the aisle.” 

He said his previous GA experience would be helpful, especially now as the state faces a huge COVID-19 influenced deficit. “It will be a tough time, but having been there, I understand the issues and I think I can help.”

He added he thought his candidacy would be well received but “I understand I need to re-earn voters’ trust and confidence…. I look forward to listening and talking to them again.”

Senate District 35 comprises large parts of East Greenwich and North Kingstown and smaller parts of Narragansett and South Kingstown. Incumbent Democrat Valverde lives in North Kingstown and is in her first term. 

“It has been an honor to represent my constituents in the Senate these last two years, but our work is far from finished. In 2018, I ran on a platform of promoting environmental stewardship, supporting public education, and expanding access to health care. I am proud to have lived up to that promise and I am determined to continue pushing for progress in Rhode Island every day,” shw said.

Chad Callanan, a former Naval officer who runs his family’s veterinary business, made an unsuccessful bid for EG Town Council in 2018. He said he would use his leadership and management skills to fight what he called “decades of abuse burdening taxpayers in the district.” He has been an outspoken critic of public sector unions and what he characterizes as “wasteful spending at all levels of government.”

The race for Senate District 33 – made up of a large part of Coventry and a small part of East Greenwich – pits longtime incumbent Democrat Leonidas Raptakis, a restaurateur,  against newcomer Jose Benitez, a doctor. EG News was unable to reach either candidate for a comment before posting.

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