Announcement Speech for Lieutenant Governor
Good morning, thank you all for being here.
I met Eric and his twin brother Derrick when they were 11 years old.
They were in an after school basketball program at our family owned health club in Woonsocket in 1995. At the time, I was fighting to keep our business open in the wake of the credit union crisis.
At a very young age, Eric & Derrick were waging their own battle: to stay safe in a dangerous neighborhood, and to find opportunity where there seemed to be precious little.
For the next seven years I was their basketball coach and we traveled around the country to play tournaments against the best teams in the country. Our team was a “United Nations” on wheels made up a diverse and talented group of young men. Some were more affluent than others, some more sure where their next meal would come from than others, some more sure where they would sleep the next night than others. But they were teammates nonetheless.
I coached hundreds of games. Dozens of those games were played in this very gym. And I watched, as each member of our team became a better and stronger person as they drew on one another’s experiences, strengths and weaknesses. In many ways, I learned more about what it will take to improve Rhode Island between the lines of this court than I would at my time at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Today, Eric and Derrick are raising their own families. They are both great dads. Eric just bought his first home in Johnston and works as a manger at Fortune 500 company. Derrick earns a living driving trailer trucks. They have both persevered over unimaginable obstacles using the same work ethic that they showed on this court years ago. I loved watching them play basketball and I love that they are still part of my life. There story isn’t really mine to tell but it has had a profound influence on me.
I want to thank Eric and Derrick for being here for me today.
Growing up, I was blessed to see my dad start the Boys Club in Cumberland-Lincoln. He cared deeply about giving all young people an opportunity to succeed. I share my dad’s passion and I believe that a great public education is the foundation of a young person’s success. That is why I have been so vocal in my efforts to bring more innovation and choice to Rhode Island’s public education system. And in my corner of Rhode Island, it’s working.
As a six term Mayor of the town of Cumberland, I have focused my work on making my community a better place to live. Since I first took the oath of office in 2001, our public schools are stronger, our streets have been recognized as some of the safest in Rhode Island. And our town has recovered from a five-point bond downgrade and enjoys its highest bond rating in history. I’m immensely proud of that progress.
But just as Eric, Derrick and I were in the fight of our lives in 1995, I believe that Rhode Island is in the fight of its life today. I did not give up then and I will not give up on Rhode Island now.
That’s why today, I am announcing that I am a candidate for Lt Governor in 2014.
I believe that this is the time for a new Rhode Island. I have demonstrated the ability to create the type of positive change needed to make that happen as a coach, businessman and mayor.
It is not good enough just to get Rhode Island back on track. It is time for Rhode Island to get on a new set of tracks.
It is time to turn our visions into realities. It is time for action.
If you want stronger public schools, then I am your candidate.
If you want safer streets, then I am your candidate.
If you want our cities and towns to be in better financial shape, then I am your candidate.
If you want more economic opportunity, then I am your candidate.
“Stand with anybody who stands right, stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.” These are the words of Abraham Lincoln. Today they can be applied to Rhode Island.
As our next Lt Governor, I will stand with anyone who stands right on the important issues that we face in our great state. And I will have the courage to part with anyone whose interest puts the people of Rhode Island on the wrong path.
As Lt. Governor, I will stand with the municipal leaders and their residents as I have as a mayor.
As Lt. Governor, I will not be silent when budget cuts and policies are proposed that will compromise the fiscal health of our cities and towns.
I will stand with all students, parents, teachers, administrators, municipal leaders and state leaders who are ready to transform our public schools.
I will stand with the small business community because I understand firsthand how difficult it has been to keep our heads above water.
As your Lt. Governor, I will stand with the workers of Rhode Island, union and non union, to fight for good jobs at a fair wage.
I will support enforcement of trade licenses and support the trade apprenticeship programs.
I will be an advocate for municipalities who have been severely impacted by state budget cuts.
I will stand with every current and retired teacher who is being unfairly shortchanged by social security benefits.
As your Lt. Governor, I will be an advocate for fair and equitable tax structures that make us competitive with our neighboring states.
I will work to consolidate and regionalize public services like I have as mayor. As chairperson of the Emergency Management Advisory Committee, I will begin with regionalizing public dispatch.
When I am elected, I will work to make the Lt. Governor’s office more meaningful for the people of Rhode Island.
How is that possible? It’s simple. I have a vision for a New Rhode Island:
Better public schools, safer streets, solvent communities and more economic opportunity for all our families.
At the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, Ben Franklin noted the painting of a sun on the back of President George Washington’s chair. Franklin told his fellow representatives that until the Constitution was signed that he questioned whether the sun was rising or setting.
Here in Rhode Island, our citizens are asking the same question. Are we a rising or setting sun?
It’s time for Rhode Island to rise once again.
Thank you for all being here today.