Top critic of state Senate leadership defends District 5 seat

Bell remains focused on one of its main goals, as stated on its campaign website: “new leadership in the Senate.” When he was first elected to the Senate in 2018, he was one of two senators to vote against Ruggerio for president of the Senate, and in his second term he was one of nine senators to s oppose Ruggerio in the Democratic caucus vote. Ruggerio opposed abortion rights, Bell noted, and received donations from the National Rifle Association.

As Ruggerio faces his own primary and Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey leaves, there are “a lot of unknowns” about the future of Senate leadership, Bell told the Globe in a statement. interview. “There are a lot of interesting possibilities. The fact that so much is changing means that the issue of leadership should take on much greater prominence in this year’s primaries.

“I was inspired by a growing movement in the Senate seeking real Democratic leadership,” Bell said. “It would be one of the most significant accomplishments possible to have a Senate leadership that is ethical and reflects the core values ​​of our Democratic Party.”

Salvatore said he had not promised to support Ruggerio’s management team, regardless of Ruggerio’s $300 donation to Salvatore’s campaign on June 15.

“In terms of leadership support, my goal is to get elected to the Senate, and I haven’t made any promises to anyone,” he said. “I respect the President of the Senate, but I publicly disagree with him.”

Salvatore opposed plans, backed by Ruggerio, for a 46-story tower proposed by New York developer Jason Fane on the old I-195 lot in Providence. He said he had been part of the leadership team during his time on city council, but was always able to work with others and get things done.

That’s what sets him apart from Bell, Salvatore said. He claimed that Bell introduced 37 bills (not including resolutions) during his four years in office, and only one became law.

A review showed that Bell was the main sponsor of two bills that became law: one removed the 10-year period during which the office of the Secretary of State is authorized to withdraw a certificate of revocation for companies. Another allowed a Broadway business to have a liquor license within 200 feet of a school or place of worship.

Salvatore said his argument is that Bell isn’t getting results for his constituents.

“While Senator Bell speaks and tweets about issues he supports and opposes, voters haven’t seen much action,” he said. “They are looking for a representation that will produce more results and fewer tweets. I am that person.

In response, Bell said it passed seven bills, including four resolutions and three bills. He says he introduced the Trauma-Informed Schools Act for years, but Senator Sandra Cano sponsored the bill that became law. “The machine sometimes chooses the petty approach of requiring the name of a different senator to be placed on a bill for final passage,” he said. “At the end of the day, what matters to me are the results, not these stupid games.”

Bell dismissed the idea that he wouldn’t get any results, saying, “When I first ran, I heard so many voters who were fed up with politicians promising that they” would get things done” and would not keep their promises. They asked me how I would do things differently.

“I told my constituents that I would actually vote my conscience instead of promising my vote to the machine,” he said. “I told my constituents that I would fight to prevent bad laws from being passed. That’s what I did. And I’m honored that so many other senators have chosen the same strategy. We changed the Senate. Dramatically.

In addition to stopping “many bad bills,” Bell said he and others helped pass “good bills” such as minimum wage increases and the Climate Act. “More importantly, we are weakening the machine. Four years ago, they seemed untouchable. Today, we are closer than ever to defeating them.

Salvatore, 46, works as a director of government affairs for the Rhode Island Association of Realtors. Bell, 33, works as a research associate at the Planetary Science Institute.

Salvatore, whose term is limited, is not the first Providence City Council member to challenge Bell.

In 2020, Bell crushed Providence City Council member Jo-Ann Ryan, winning 72.5% of the vote to Ryan’s 27.5% in a Democratic primary for the Senate District 5 seat. Ryan also had the support of the Senate leadership.

But with the primary fast approaching, Salvatore has twice as much campaign money as Bell. Salvatore had $85,886 in his campaign account while Bell had $34,770, according to reports filed with the state Board of Elections for totals 28 days before the election.

Mentions of Bell include Planned Parenthood, the Coalition Against Gun Violence, Rhode Island Queer PAC and Rep. David Morales, a Democrat from Providence.

Mentions of Salvatore include the National Education Association Rhode Island, Rhode Island AFL-CIO, Moms Demand Action and Rep. Anastasia P. Williams, a Democrat from Providence.

On August 19, the Rhode Island Right to Life Committee released its list of mentions and recommendations, and he recommended Salvatore in Senate District 5. Salvatore immediately disavowed the group’s support, Tweeter, “Let’s be clear: I never sought this designation, I never spoke with the organization and I reject their recommendation.”

Salvatore said he supports abortion rights, “period.”

He indicated that he was the main sponsor of a City council resolution urging the passage of the Reproductive Privacy Shield Act, which seeks to protect the right to abortion in Rhode Island, and he said he supports the Gender Equality Act abortion coverage, which would allow Medicaid recipients and state employees to use their health insurance to cover the cost of abortions.

Bell called Salvatore’s recommendation for the right to life “very interesting”, saying he did not disavow support enough for the group to withdraw its recommendation.

Edward Fitzpatrick can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.