Alum vie for vacated district seat

Candidates compete to replace former speaker of the house, who resigned after office raid in March

Staff Writer
Thursday, April 10, 2014

Aaron Regunberg ’12, co-founder of the Providence Student Union, and Miriam Ross, a Providence business attorney, are slated to compete for the District 4 seat in the Rhode Island House of Representatives vacated March 22 by former Rhode Island Speaker of the House Gordon Fox, D-Providence,  amid a federal investigation.

Heather Tow-Yick ’98, executive director for Teach for America and another possible candidate, wrote that she has filed a notice of organization, the first required campaign finance reporting form, and will make a decision in the coming weeks, in an email to The Herald.

Ross said she intends to knock on every door in the district in order to gain a better understanding of the community before the Sept. 9 primary election.  “The biggest and most important piece is walking the district and learning about the voters,” Ross said

Ross, who ran for a seat in the Rhode Island Senate in 2010, said her greatest concerns for District 4 include access to jobs, infrastructure and education. “We need to create jobs for people in this state because it’s really the doorway for so many things,” she said.

Ross said she believes her experience as a business attorney has prepared her to enact change that benefits  the business community and the rest of the constituency. “My entire practice for the last ten years has focused on the entrepreneurs and small businesses in Rhode Island,” she said. “I understand the challenges they have and the regulatory issues that they face.”

If elected to represent District 4, Regunberg hopes to improve public school education, protect women’s reproductive rights, support small businesses and provide property tax relief through restoring state aid, he wrote in an email to The Herald.

“My work fighting alongside students has shown me the challenges our schools face and also the power for transformative change when we engage and involve young people, parents and educators in our education policy-making,” Regunberg wrote.

Regunberg added that he will work to promote transparency and democracy in the House.

“If elected, I plan to institute and publicize a weekly ‘hold your Rep. accountable’ session, where I sit in a coffee shop one night a week so that any constituents can come, sit down and share their concerns or ideas with me,” Regunberg wrote.

Samuel Bell GS, Rhode Island State Coordinator for the Progressive Democrats of America, dropped out of the race and then pledged his support to Regunberg.

“I decided that it was important that we not split votes,” he said, adding that he believes Regunberg “stands for the right kind of middle-class values that define Rhode Island politics.”

Bell said the critical issues the General Assembly is currently facing are “pretty standard Republican and Democrat issues,” such as women’s reproductive rights, gun control and tax cuts for the wealthy.