The newly-formed Moderate Party of Rhode Island joined the campaign fray Sunday when it announced its candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general at its kickoff party, held at the Everyman Bistro in Providence.
Party founder Kenneth Block, a software engineer and business owner, announced his candidacy for governor along with Jean Ann Guliano, who will be running for lieutenant governor, and Christopher Little, the party's candidate for attorney general.
Though the lieutenant governor in Rhode Island typically does not run on the same ticket as the governor, Guliano said she and Block will be campaigning together.
The candidates each showed a video before taking the stage. Their speeches framed their platforms based on the Moderate Party's four-part focus on the economy, ethics reform, education and the environment.
Block, in his video, said the idea for the party began when he became convinced that Rhode Island citizens needed a centrist party. The party will focus on amending the way government runs, in part by giving more power to the office of the lieutenant governor.
In his speech, Block said the Rhode Island government was "beset with the worst form of political gridlock." Though not a professional politician, he said he knows from personal experience as a business owner how the economy has impacted Rhode Island citizens.
Block said his objectives as governor will include using federal stimulus and state bond funds to build jobs, reducing costs to keep businesses in Rhode Island and creating special economic zones in the state.
He implored the audience to not only vote for him, Guliano and Little, but also candidates in local elections.
"You must vote for change, and the Moderate Party of Rhode Island will bring that change," Block said in his speech.
Guliano, who is the chair of the East Greenwich School Committee, said in her video that she intends to act as an information channel between the people, the General Assembly and other offices. She emphasized the importance of education and addressing the federal stimulus funds, which she said will run out in 2012. The government should remain "capable stewards of the taxpayers' money," she said, referencing a previous statement from State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist.
Continuing the focus on education, Guliano said she would work to lift the cap on the number of charter schools allowed in the state.
In his speech, Little criticized Attorney General Patrick Lynch '87 for failing to act as an effective advocate for the people. Little, who has been an attorney for over thirty years and served on community organizations such as Save the Bay, said he would work to fulfill the duty of the attorney general in addition to acting as the state's chief law enforcer. He also pledged to leave his office doors open for people to confidentially air their grievances.
After the candidates spoke, Party Chairman Robert Corrente took the stage and encouraged the audience members not only to vote, but also to donate to the party and campaign for its candidates. Capitalizing on the momentum they had, he said, would help ensure the party's success.
"You don't have to run as part of the monolith," Corrente said. "You have a choice."