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NEW:  Pell Makes Rhode Island Gubernatorial Run Official

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell

Clay Pell officially kicked off his 2014 gubernatorial campaign today at the Rhode Island Convention Center, with a packed crowd in the fifth floor atrium to hear from the grandson of the former six-term Rhode Island Senator, Claiborne Pell.

Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena opened the speaking remarks, followed by Central Falls Deputy Superintendent Victor Capellan, Pell's grandmother, Nuala Pell, Pell's wife, Michelle Kwan, before the candidate took the stage.

Supporters on Hand

Nuala Pell

Capellan opened by noting a recent Latino Policy Institute report, which showed that "Latino students are lagging behind their peers," said Capellan. "With Clay, we will do better." Following Capellan, grandmother Nuala Pell spoke in support of her grandson. "Clay is defined by how much he cares. He believes he can make a difference, and government run with integrity can make a difference."

Kwan, the decorated Olympic figure skater, told the crowd, "I am proud to call myself a Rhode Islander." Of her husband Clay, Kwan noted, "We share the same committment to making a difference in people's lives."

Supporters in the crowd included former State Representative Ray Rickman, who told GoLocal, "He's made of the same cloth of his grandfather. He's an extraordinarily intelligent and honest human being." Rickman said his support for Pell is "100%."  "He'll serve us well the full four years," said Rickman.

Pell's Vision

Clay Pell, Michelle Kwan

Taking the stage after Kwan, Pell opened by saying, "Hello everybody, I'm Michelle Kwan's husband," to laughter and applause.

Former White House staffer and Coast Guard Reserve Officer Pell began by noting a conversation with his grandfather, in which he shared with him "the difficulties I had in public speaking."  Pell recalled, "He said, "Practice, practice, practice. You don't need to be the loudest voice. You just need to speak for those with no voice at all."

Focusing on the economy -- and economic growth -- Pell said, "Rhode Island once grew at the intersection of the global economy. And I believe we can compete and grow again."

Pell introduced his intent to push for the creation of a $10 million dollar fund where businesses and entrepreneurs could access grants or loans ranging in size from $2,500 to $25,000. "Imagine the economic growth that would create," said Pell.  

Pell spoke to the need for government accountability and transparency, saying, "Insider politics and cronyism have held us back for too long. That is why, as a candidate, I will not accept contributions from PACs or state lobbyists."  


Related Slideshow: 7 Strategies for Rhode Island Economic Development in 2014

What will it take to move the Rhode Island economy forward in 2014?  GoLocal talked with elected officials, candidates, and leaders for their economic development plans in the coming year. 

Below are key elements of the economic priorities for Governor Lincoln Chafee, Speaker of the House Gordon Fox, Senate President M. Teresa Paiva-Weed, House Minority Leader Brian Newberry, gubernatorial hopefuls General Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Ken Block, and RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity's Mike Stenhouse.  

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Governor Lincoln Chafee

"My goal is to have the state continue to focus on the fundamentals.  We will invest in education, workforce development and infrastructure , and provide aid to  cities and towns to lessen the burden on property taxpayers.  I’m confident that these investments and our focus on the basics will allow Rhode Island to exceed Moody’s predictions.”
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Speaker Gordon Fox

"Among the many pieces of legislation the House will address will be issues of higher education affordability, expanding apprenticeship opportunities, and offering help to our manufacturers.  We will also look closely at our tax structure to make sure we are competitive with our neighboring states, including the corporate tax and the estate tax, and I will carefully review the recommendations of the commission studying our sales tax.”

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Senate Pres. Paiva-Weed

Greg Pare, spokesperson for the Senate President, said that the Senate is planning to issue recommendations soon on workforce development initiatives to address the skills gap among Rhode Island job seekers.

"An example of a proposal anticipated in that report is the elimination of state’s Indirect Cost Recovery on the Job Development Fund, which is about $1.2 million this year. Those funds would be directed towards job training and skills development programs to provide immediate impact and help workers gain the skills necessary to succeed in today’s economy."

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Gen. Treasurer Raimondo

"To grow our economy, we need to make Rhode Island a leader in manufacturing again.  Great things can happen at the intersection of government, higher education, and the private sector.  Rhode Island is lucky to have thriving institutions in each of these three sectors, and we need to foster collaboration among them to find solutions to our challenges, and spark our economy.  

By promoting partnerships in high-growth areas, [Rhode Island Innovation Institute] will help grow our manufacturing base, and create new, high-quality jobs."  

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Ken Block

"First, we need to fix Rhode Island’s broken Unemployment Insurance program. The state’s Unemployment Insurance tax, paid by employers, is ranked worst in the country by the Tax Foundation. It is one of the factors that makes Rhode Island an uncompetitive place to do business. Also, it is inherently unfair that a large group of businesses are effectively subsidizing the payrolls of a small group of businesses who misuse the system. There is a simple change to state law that can fix this problem."

"Rhode Island’s temporary disability tax (TDI) is broken, and places an unnecessarily high tax burden on Rhode Islanders. This tax, paid for by employees, will be reduced by changing the way we manage the program. As Governor, I will substantially reduce the cost of purchasing this insurance by requiring that Rhode Island’s program adhere to national norms."

"To best encourage new job creation, I propose the following tax incentive: exempt from future capital gains taxes any new investments in Rhode Island-based businesses. This change would create a powerful incentive for investors who are deciding where to locate a new business, or where they relocate an existing one. This proposal has the potential change the economic playing field for Rhode Island."

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Minority Leader Newberry

“It would be overly ambitious to set being #1 as a goal right now, but we think 25, the middle of the pack, is a reasonable goal to set, one we think we should pursue, and one we can achieve,” said Newberry. "One of the initiatives is a requirement that every bill receive a fiscal evaluation before it can be heard by committee, better insuring that legislators know the real cost of the legislation they are acting on."

"Another proposal would exempt social security income from RI state income tax, making Rhode Island more tax-friendly for our seniors and keeping them here rather than migrating to more tax-friendly states."

“Strong action is way overdue here. Nearly 60% of Rhode Islanders now believe that the state is headed in the wrong direction. We think they’re right, and our central goal is to get it turned around."

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Mike Stenhouse

"As part of the Center's 2014 Prosperity Agenda we recommended that the state:
Repeal or rollback of the state’s regressive sales tax; or the requirement that families have no choice on what schools best educate their children; or punitive estate taxes that drive wealthy people to other states; or restrictions on out-of-state companies to sell health insurance in RI; or the minimum franchise tax, which stifles entrepreneurship; or corporate welfare, to level the playing field; or even renewable energy mandates that drive up costs for every family and business …"

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