Filippi tapped for new role
State Rep. Blake Filippi has represented Dist. 36 in the House of Representatives since 2014. The Times took a moment to catch up with Filippi after he won his third consecutive term to that seat.
Q: First off, what message do you have to the voters of Dist. 36, which you represent — this includes all of Block Island and Charlestown, and portions of Westerly and South Kingston — and have just returned you to office?
A: Thank you for giving me the the opportunity to continue promoting an honest and strong business climate rooted in a level playing field, lower taxes, open and clean government, local control of planning decisions, the protection of individual liberty, and the truth that our environment is both a social and economic treasure.
Q: Gov. Raimondo was also returned to office with a decisive victory, along with House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello. How is your working relationship with them both?
A: Rhode Island is thankfully not faced with Washington D.C-style partisan gridlock. We work well together when we agree, and respectfully differ when we don't. For example, I was happy to work with Speaker Mattiello to reduce taxes on retirement income, and am very supportive of Governor Raimondo's efforts to change the way we look at drug addiction — from a criminal justice perspective to a mental health issue. Conversely, I vigorously opposed their efforts to undermine local control of planning and zoning, install the statewide tolling network, impose taxes of vacation rentals, and provide law enforcement warrantless access to our prescription records. We anticipate a productive working relationship during the next two years.
Q: In 2016, you were appointed Minority Whip, and this year you have just been named House Minority Leader. What does the new role entail, given that there are now 64 Democrats and 11 Republicans in the House? How would you describe the morale of the members of your party going into the new session, assuming you’ve had a chance to talk to some or all of them since election day?
A: The primary role of the Minority Leader is to serve the needs of the caucus, including: managing floor debates and ensuring adherence to the House Rules, overseeing staff, and serving as the point person to negotiate with the majority party in the House and other branches of government. The morale is quite high as we have a strong caucus have a significant role to play given the deep idealogical divisions in the Democratic caucus.
Q: Each political party includes disparate beliefs and points of view. There are conservative Democrats and progressive Republicans. There are Trump supporters and the Never-Trump-ers. In this rather patchwork era of political identities, how would you describe yourself, particularly now that you have four years of experience behind you?
A: Government should generally stay out of our homes, bodies, and wallets.
Q: Anything you’d like to add?
A: One of the best parts of the job is to help our neighbors navigate state and federal government. Please encourage your readers to reach out if there is anything I can do.
Ed. Note: We reached out to state Sen. Susan Sosnowski for a post-election interview but had not heard back by press time.