Gayle Goldin (incumbent) Vs. Chris Wall
District encompasses the entire East Side
For over two decades, the Senate District that encompasses virtually the entire East Side was pretty much the exclusive enclave of Rhoda Perry. Apparently she thought so too. Two years ago, after initially filing re-election papers, the longtime State Senator suddenly pulled a surprise and withdrew from the race expecting she still would control the selection of her successor. It didn’t work. A hotly contested battle developed between her choice, Gayle Goldin, and an unexpected second candidate Maryellen Butke. The lively contest was ultimately won by Goldin who captured 57% of the vote.
With a first term under her belt, Goldin now has her own record to run on including several pieces of legislation she sponsored and which were passed, a laudable accomplishment for a first term legislator. Both she and her opponent Chris Wall have backgrounds in public policy and are quite well versed in most things legislative. Wall was a reporter and newscaster for several years at Channel 10 before becoming a real estate broker for Residential Properties.
Both candidates consider themselves progressives though with different areas of interest. Goldin has become a leader within the Senate for championing programs to help working families. Wall meanwhile is drawn to economic issues like the need to broaden our tax base and job creation.
In terms of specific legislation, the two candidates have similar positions on most of the issues that will be coming up in the next legislative session. Both feel the minimum wage needs to be increased significantly, both favor the continuation of historic tax credits, both feel more needs to be done on restructuring the old EDC, both are committed to reproductive and gender rights and both are opposed to convening a Constitutional Convention.
The two do have slightly different positions of legalizing marijuana. Wall feels we should move ahead so we can tax and regulate it. Goldin takes a more “wait and see” approach and questions whether the state is capable of providing the oversight and enforcement necessary. While neither is happy about it, both grudgingly feel we currently don’t have an alternative other than paying off the bond holders of the 38 Studio fiasco.
A look at the two candidates, however, does suggest some areas of difference in terms of background, life experiences and priority of issues.
For a first term legislator, Goldin is quite happy with what she was able to accomplish in her first term. Of particular significance was her successful sponsorship of a bill to provide temporary caregivers insurance. The law, which took effect in early 2014, provides working Rhode Islanders with up to four weeks of temporary disability insurance (TDI) to allow them to care for their children, parents or loved ones without fear of losing their jobs or savings. Rhode Island became only the third state in the country, along with New Jersey and California, to pass this kind of legislation. A strong advocate for paid family leave, Goldin later went to Washington as a participant in the White House Summit on Working Families where she met the president.
Goldin also introduced legislation that would have mandated a 10% tax on gun sales in the state, the proceeds of which would have gone to fund non-violence training in public schools. This bill proved to be more controversial and is still in committee.
She has also been quite active introducing legislation for waivers to improve the affordable health care health exchange in Rhode Island. While our program is already considered one of the best in the country, she feels her knowledge of health care issues will enhance it even more. While the waivers didn’t pass this session, she’s hopeful they will in the future and promises they are fiscally responsible as well.
In terms of why she should be re-elected, Goldin says she likes to think she “has been thoughtful and collaborative” in representing the voice of the East Side for the past two years. She also feel her professional background in public policy continues to serve her well in the legislature.
Goldin arrived on the East Side in 1998. Married to attorney Jeff Levy, she has two sons, Zack and Jonah, and lives on Brown Street. After working as a consultant for several non-profit organizations assisting with grassroots advocacy, grant writing and research, Goldin is currently the strategic initiative officer for the Women’s Fund of R.I.
Chris Wall has lived an interesting life that had taken him all over the country before he arrived as a news reporter for Channel 10 in the late ‘90s. His background includes jobs selling mutual funds, staffing for Florida Senator Bob Graham, doing development work for Choate, being a film producer for the Discovery Channel and working for local TV stations and newspapers in Wyoming. He also was the press secretary for former Secretary of State Ed Inman here in Rhode Island where he first gained some useful experience in our own State Legislature. He has been a successful real estate broker with Residential Properties for the past ten years.
He feels his varied background allows him a rather unique perspective on how things might be improved here. One of his top priorities is to help end the infuriating corruption that seems to permeate much of what seems to go on politically in Rhode Island. In particular, he feels there needs to be a dramatically higher level of transparency to our existing tax policies. He also feels that there needs to be a broadening of our state’s tax base.
“This may be unpopular but I think there was some merit in Governor Chaffee’s attempts to broaden what’s taxed to widen the net while lowering the actual rate itself. It’s probably fairer and more transparent.”
Wall has also been particular vocal on improving public education. “We need a 21st century public funding formula that recognizes the reality of the needs of urban education.” He feels there should be a performance audit of Providence as he is convinced the money is not going to where it is needed...to the teachers rather than the bureaucracy. He cites rhetoric that speaks to the importance of parental involvement in school decisions on the one hand and then allows the closing down of pre-K classes at Vartan Gregorian and the possible addition of students from cross town schools to Nathan Bishop over local parental protests.
In terms of why he should be elected, Wall feels he is the real progressive reformer in the race and that his message of “change, reform, new ideas and new leadership” seems to be resonating with voters who are fed up with the same old, status quo insiders.
Wall lives on Irving Avenue and is a graduate of Middlebury College.