PowerPlayer: Congressman David Cicilline

Monday, September 12, 2011


GoLocalProv’s latest PowerPlayer is David Cicilline. The first-term Congressman from the 1st Congressional District was kind enough to tell us what his first year in office has been like and about how the work he is doing in Washington is affecting everyday Rhode Islanders.

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1) Being the Chief Executive of a city and a legislator are two completely different jobs. You clearly like both, but is there one you like better?

They are both great jobs. Whether you are a Chief Executive of a city or a legislator, you work for the people who elect you -- you are a public servant, and your top priority is to address the needs of the people you serve. For me the greatest difference between being a Mayor and a legislator is that as Mayor, you're able to make decisions that have a direct and immediate impact on people’s lives and you can see the results more quickly. As a legislator, action requires the participation of many more people and it often takes longer to see the impact of what you are doing.

2) The public perception is that Washington can't get anything done. What is the single biggest factor holding back our country?

During the last eight months I have held neighborhood suppers, teletown halls, met with main street small businesses, and toured manufacturing facilities so that I can bring the concerns and priorities of the First District in Rhode Island to Congress. But intense political partisanship is preventing Washington from doing the work Rhode Islanders and the American people need it to do in order to get our economy moving again and to get people back to work. I was elected to Congress with an understanding that the two parties have significant policy differences and often struggle to reach compromise, but it has become very clear to me that extreme ideology and an unwillingness to compromise has made it difficult to get things done.

Despite this, I am strongly committed, even in the face of significant resistance, to finding bipartisan solutions to some of the most challenging problems facing our state and our nation: putting Rhode Islanders back to work, reducing our deficit, and rebuilding our economy. One of my primary focuses in Congress has been my Make it in America Block Grant legislation which would help retool our area manufacturers and help them adapt to compete in the new economy--a high tech, alternative energy economy-- and the entire Make it in America agenda that focuses on rebuilding our manufacturing sector.

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3) Take us through a day in your life.

I arrive in my office in the Cannon House Office Building early in the morning where I read the Rhode Island and national news, speak with staff in my District Office in Pawtucket, and then meet with my DC staff to review the legislative agenda for the day. In between votes on the House floor, committee meetings for Small Business, Foreign Affairs, and Steering and Policy Committees, I meet with constituents, civic and business leaders, school children and families from our state, and individuals with expertise in a particular area or advocates on a particular issue. After session concludes, I generally participate in a variety of evening events and then usually get home around 10 pm, and then I begin reading my briefing materials for the following day's business.

During a typical week, the Congressional schedule allows me to be in Rhode Island from Thursday or Friday evening through Monday evening. When I'm home, I am out in the District meeting with local businesses owners, seniors, holding neighborhood suppers, conducting Main Street tours, and meeting with constituents to hear directly from them and to report on what I am working on in Washington. I am also, of course, meeting with staff when I am home.

By the way, this Friday, September 16th, I am opening a satellite office at Newport City Hall and then holding a Neighborhood Supper from 5-7 p.m. at the Thompson Middle School at 39 Broadway in Newport. I hope to see you there!

4) What has been most surprising about Washington?

How bitterly divided and partisan the Congress is, and the failure of so many of my colleagues to understand what is really happening to people in this country and the crushing impact of this recession on so many in our country.

5) We hear you love to spend time listening to your colleagues debate on the House floor. Why do you love it so much?

It’s not so much that I love listening to them, but I really believe that through thoughtful and serious debate, we can find the best solutions to the serious challenges facing our country today. Listening to my colleagues in both parties on the House floor provides me with a better understanding of the issues and provides me with information regarding their perspectives.

6) Tell us something nobody knows about you.

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I eat candy as if it is about to be banned by the GOP.

Quick Hitters:

Role Model: My Grandfather

Favorite Restaurant: New Rivers

Best Beach: Gooseberry Beach, Newport

Best Book You've Read In The Last Year: Too Big to Fail

Advice For The Next David Cicilline: Always do what you believe is right even if it is unpopular, and fight hard to do good things. America needs you.


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