Editor's note: these are the candidate's responses to questions provided by RIPR. The views expressed are the candidate's alone, edited only in cases of inappropriate or libelous language. No changes have been made to correct errors of fact, spelling or grammar.
Do you support trucking tolls for tractor trailers on Rhode Island highways?
Yes. The national highway trust is based off of gasoline taxes. As cars become more efficient we’re consuming less gas, generating less revenue to repair roads, which are being used more than ever. We must come up with other sources of revenue to maintain our national (and RI) infrastructure.
Would you support a state-mandated health insurance program?
I think it’s time to look at a single payer system. Universal health care, including mental health coverage is a natural right.
Are you in favor of expanding protections against sexual harassment to include domestic workers (such as nannies) and volunteers (such as interns)?
If given the opportunity, would you codify the right to have an abortion in state law?
Absolutely. The General Assembly hasn’t voted on choice in twenty years. That is unacceptable. This is supposed to be a representative body and public opinion is very clear on this issue - two-thirds of voters support the right to choose. We need to reconvene immediately and have a vote on the Reproductive Health Care Act now.
Is the state doing enough to help people who have been left behind by the economy? If not, what additional steps should be taken?
No. In the last ten years the number of SNAP recipients in the state has grown from 40,000 to 175,00 recipients. As a board member of the RI Public Health Institute (which runs Food on the Move) and a volunteer at Camp Street Ministries food pantry, I’ve seen how food insecurity continues to increase. SNAP is a federal program under direct and immediate threat. We also have the highest poverty rate in New England. We need creative solutions to increase the resilience of state and city social safety net programs. We desperately need to increase the supply of affordable housing in the state - fortunately there are a number of creative ways to do so which are being trialed in other states that we can learn from.
Does primary education need to be improved statewide? If so, how?
Yes. We need to start off by looking at education holistically. Education in the school building is only part of the challenge. Many or our students have experienced childhood trauma, poverty, food insecurity before they ever reach the classroom. The teacher alone cannot overcome these challenges. Too many students come to Kindergarten already behind their peers. Your zip code should not determine the quality of education that you receive. I support universal pre-K for all RI’ers and I think we can fund it through a pay for success model (more can be found on Pay For Success at my website at www.marktracy.com). I also fully support stronger after school programming being supported by programs like PASA in Providence as an example.
Do you support RI’s designation as a sanctuary state? Why or why not?
Rhode Island's greatest strength is the diversity of its population. In an increasingly disruptive world, innovation is paramount. The easiest way to be innovative is through diversity and inclusion, which provides unique perspectives. That's why I helped found Ocean State Innovate - to engage that diversity in creative problem solving of intractable problems. http://www.dem.ri.gov/relishrhody/innovate.php
If we are able to engage every mind from diverse backgrounds in this state, we will have no problem growing our way out of our fiscal challenges.