On Nov. 6, people across the country will vote for their elected officials and referendums during the 2018 midterm elections.
Brian Krueger, a professor of the political science department, said that this year’s midterm elections are particularly important because they could change the makeup of the entirety of the United States House of Representatives and one-third of the U.S. Senate.
“This will shape whether the president’s party will have an opportunity to pass legislation or whether the opposition party will have the votes to stop legislation and run effective oversight,” Krueger said.
Thirty-six states are holding gubernatorial elections, and many state-level congressional seats, mayoral positions and town council seats are also up for grabs.
Krueger also said that although a single vote may seem insignificant, it can still have a major impact.
“Mathematically speaking you are extremely unlikely to cast the deciding vote that sends your preferred candidate into office,” Krueger said. “But voting does matter; groups that do not vote receive less attention and consideration from policymakers. If you wonder why politicians spend so much time talking about Medicare and Social Security, it is because older folks vote at the highest rates and these issues are particularly important to this constituency. If you want politicians to listen to your group’s concerns, a good place to begin is by becoming regular voters.”
Most voter registration deadlines have passed, but you can view them just in case at https://www.vote.org/voter-registration-deadlines/. In Rhode Island, you must have registered to vote by Oct. 7. However, Krueger said that registered URI students from out of state have the right to vote in Rhode Island. Some states are still accepting absentee ballots. You can view that at https://www.vote.org/absentee-ballot-deadlines/.
Overview of candidates and questions on the Rhode Island 2018 ballot:
Rhode Island Governor
Incumbent Governor and Democrat Gina Raimondo plans to expand the Rhode Island Promise Scholarship if she is re-elected. The scholarship currently allows Rhode Island residents who graduated high school the semester before to attend the Community College of Rhode Island for free. If expanded, the scholarship would make junior and senior year at the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College free as well. Raimondo is also a supporter of stricter gun control, public pre-kindergarten and maintaining roads and infrastructure.
Republican Challenger Allan Fung currently serving as the mayor of Cranston. Fung is passionate about veterans’ affairs, wanting to make military pensions tax-exempt and to expand job opportunities for veterans. He vows to support small businesses by reducing interest on back taxes and giving tax breaks to struggling small businesses. Fung also supports school safety officers and lowering Rhode Island’s sales tax.
Independent Joe Trillo served as the deputy minority leader and House minority whip of the Rhode Island House of Representatives as a Republican. He supports lower taxes with a smaller government. Trillo is also a strong opponent against animal abuse and opposes sanctuary cities.
Other candidates include William Gilbert of the Moderate Party, Anne Armstrong of the Compassion Party and Independent Luis Daniel Munoz.
Rhode Island U.S. Senator
Incumbent Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse was a vocal critic against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his hearings. He previously served as a U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island and Rhode Island’s Attorney General. Whitehouse is also passionate about combating climate change and cosponsored the proposed Medicare for All Act.
Republican Robert Flanders is a former Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice. Flanders’ platform includes investing more in state infrastructure. Flanders also wishes to have stronger border security and an end to chain-migration immigration. As for healthcare, Flanders wishes to allow people to buy coverage across state lines and would propose a Drugs Affordability Act which would control prescription drug prices.
District 1 Representative
Democratic Congressman David Cicilline has been in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2011 and previously served as the mayor of Providence. He is a supporter of gun control and reproductive rights. Cicilline has also been vocal about LGBTQ+ rights, and is the fourth openly gay member of Congress.
Republican Patrick Donovan was a stay-at-home dad before running for Congress. He supports increasing use in green energy, particularly hydroelectric energy. He also supports decreasing pollution caused by wasted drugs and wants to improve Rhode Island’s business climate.
District 2 Representative
Democratic Congressman James Langevin has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2001. He is the founder and co-chair of both the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus and the House Cybersecurity Caucus. Langevin opposes the proposed Republican tax plan and instead wishes to eliminate tax cuts for the wealthy. He is also a supporter of the Affordable Care Act.
Republican Salvatore Caiozzo is a veteran and founder of PoisonedVeterans.org. He opposes the RhodeWorks truck tolls. Caiozzo also wants to invest in the state’s farming and commercial fishing industries. He wishes for less federal involvement in education curriculum, but wants to hear teacher feedback first.
Question 1: This question asks Rhode Islanders if they would approve of the state government authorizing $250 million in bonds over five years to fund the construction of new buildings for public K-12 education, as well as refurbishments of existing K-12 facilities. Which buildings would be created or renovated are unknown at this time.
Question 2: This question proposes a $70 million bond for higher education facilities. Forty-five million from this bond would go to URI’s Narragansett Bay Campus and $25 million would go to Rhode Island College’s School of Education and Human Development.
Question 3: Question 3 proposes a $47.3 million bond for “environmental and recreational purposes.” The bond would be distributed for initiatives such as clean water, coastal management, wastewater treatment, dam safety and local recreation projects.