PowerPlayer: Congressional Insider Chris Fierro
Monday, November 21, 2011
This week's PowerPlayer is Chris Fierro, District Director for Congressman David Cicilline. The former State Rep. was kind enough to chat with GoLocalProv about the work he is now doing and break down the most pressing issues facing the state.
1) You're a former member of General Assembly. What's it like going from being an elected official to running the show for somebody else?
My tenure as a State Representative was both extraordinarily rewarding and personally challenging. As a Representative, I had a great deal of responsibility with comparably few resources; from devising policy positions to ensuring that emails and constituent calls were always promptly answered, I worked very hard to serve my community.
While I enjoyed serving in the legislature a great deal, I have found that in working for David, I've been able to help lead a very talented and committed staff to serve a larger number of people in a more direct and immediate way. For example, our staff was recently able to assist a constituent with a brain injury seeking Medicaid in order to get transferred to a nursing home which specialized in brain injuries. With David's leadership and a joint effort of our staff, the request to the agency was expedited and approved. A result we were all very proud of.
2) You were considered a progressive during your stint at the State House. Your boss is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. What's the status of the progressive movement in Rhode Island?
There is no question that there is significant support for progressive values in Rhode Island. Whether it's labor issues, women's choice issues or environmental issues, a majority of Rhode Islanders feel very strongly that we need to be looking for ways to work together to improve our communities, not turning the clock backwards. Rhode Island progressives have grown increasingly active and effective as our state and our nation confronts the serious economic times that we currently face.
3) Take us through a day in your life.
Obviously each day is very different, but they all start over coffee and the local newspapers. I like to get into the office early to ensure that I get a head start on emails and returning phone calls. I spend a lot of time on the phone checking in with various members of the community, local and elected leaders throughout the district, as well as businesses and individuals that we are assisting with their cases before the federal government.
I like to have lunch with the staff in the office so that we have a chance to catch up on what everyone is working on and how they're doing. Afternoon brings more meetings and time on the phone. Evenings often take me to community events throughout the district, and I am able to get home to my wife and kids before bedtime.
4) What do you see as the three most pressing issues facing Rhode Islanders right now?
There is no question that the most important issue facing Rhode Island is the economy, and as a staff we have no greater responsibility than helping David get Rhode Islanders back to work. If we can get folks back to work we will right our economy, ensure that businesses have customers, and ease the burdens on our social service network. While there are lots of ideas about how to create jobs, I believe the key to getting people back to work is by making simple investments in our infrastructure.
Rhode Islanders are also concerned with investing and improving our education system so that our children and grandchildren have the same opportunities that our grandparents and parents left to us.
We also want to protect our seniors who worked so hard all their lives and deserve a comfortable life in their golden years. This means fighting to strengthen Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
5) Tell us something nobody knows about you.
My parents are both staunch Republicans.
Role Model: My five year old son Enzo--he has the best sense of humor and a persistently positive outlook on the world. Nothing gets him down and no obstacle is insurmountable. He also won't take "no" for an answer.
Favorite Restaurant: The Burrito Company in Woonsocket
Best Beach: One with no sand.
Best Book You've Read in the Last Year: Swimming to Antarctica by Lynne Cox
Advice for the Next Chris Fierro: Learn to be patient.
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