Gubernatorial Candidates Discuss Women’s Issues

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Women’s Fund of RI hosted a gubernatorial forum with candidates on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 at Rhode Island College’s Gaige Hall. Not all candidates participated.

The Women’s Fund has a mission to advance gender equity by investing in women and girls through advocacy, research and partnerships to create systemic change in the lives of women.

The forum, moderated by Maureen Moakley, professor of political science at URI, began with opening statements by each of the candidates and followed up with questions on specific issues relating to reproductive health, economic independence, sexual harassment and other issues specific to women.

So what do five guys have to say about women’s issues while on a forum hosted by a women’s group to an audience of women? Are they giving it lip service just to get the votes? Or are they sincere in their beliefs about women and equality?

Matt Brown an independent, was unequivocally pro-choice, saying that “reproductive freedom is a fundamental right.” He supported the Fair Pay Act and supports raising the minimum wage. He said if elected he would govern with the commitment to advance gender equality, restore Medicaid and repeal the restrictions on Medicaid and added that he would be inclusive bringing women into leadership positions.

Luis-Daniel Munoz another independent said, “Women should be masters of their own body.”  He would be fine with a Roe v Wade law at a state level, but would also increase health care and health education. Stating that “no one should be subject to sexual harassment” he cited early education as important. He was for raising the minimum wage to $15, but said even that is not a living wage and simply raising the wage is not addressing the issue of creating jobs that pay more.  “We need to create opportunity.”

Republican Giovanni Feroce said, “I have a lot to offer” and spoke of moving the state into the future. He mentioned “block chain” a few times but did not offer any specifics, and told the audience to read articles about him in Forbes and Inc. When questioned about reproductive health and freedom he talked about block chain again, but then he said, “I am not a promoter of legislation in this area because there are more important things.”  He also said that raising the minimum wage “was a free market decision.” He did say that he was in favor of flex time, workplace flexibility and was a strong supporter of daycare, saying, “It’s time.”

Spencer Dickinson, a democrat, made a lot of points in his opening remarks when he said, “I am here to learn.” He was big on consensus. As for reproductive rights, he said, “Women should have the decision on it,” again stressing the need for consensus. He came out strong for universal health care saying that if elected he would make Rhode Island the first state to have it. As for raising the minimum wage, he was for it, but said it should be done while the economy was on the uptick.

Democrat Paul Roselli has since dropped out of the race to run for the state senate. This may be a better move for him as he was quite knowledgeable about the legislature and what was going on there and how to move things forward. As far as women’s issues he wanted to make sure that “We don’t lose ground, we don’t go backwards. It is time we trust women to make their own judgment.”  He is in favor of fully funding Medicaid. He mentioned two bills in the legislature now regarding sexual harassment and bullying saying that these two bills “need your support.” He said if you want to change the character of government, “Vote them out.”

The event was live streamed and is available for viewing at












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