August 7, 2006

Meet John Clarke, Candidate For State Senator

Carroll Andrew Morse

John Clarke is running for State Senate in Rhode Islandís 9th District. The 9th Senate District, which includes most of West Warwick, is currently represented by Senate Finance Chairman Stephen Alves. Anchor Rising recently had the opportunity to interview Mr. Clarke and capture his pointed thoughts on the job that Senator Alves is doing, as well as a number of other subjectsÖ

Anchor Rising: Why are you running for office?
John Clarke: I am running for office because the public needs a choice. I think we have to bring balance into the legislature. Itís way out of balance, 85%-to-15% Democrat-to-Republican.

We have to put more Republicans into the legislature, but they have to be people who are qualified for office. I believe that Iím qualified. Not only am I qualified, but I donít come to the candidacy with any particular conflicts of interest. Iím not looking for anything except to bring good, fair and honest government to the people of the State of Rhode Island and to the constituents in the town of West Warwick.

AR: I heard you describe yourself once as an ebullient Irishman (actually, you said it a little differently). Another Irishman with some experience in politics, Tip OíNeill, once said that all politics is local. To the people of West Warwick, the casino issue is a local as well as a state issue. Do you believe that the current statehouse delegation from West Warwick is representing the interests of West Warwick when it comes to the casino?
JC: I think that the people of West Warwick are very divided. Weíre going to see what the results of that are when we get the results of the election on Question #1 in November.

I donít think that the people of West Warwick are so fully behind the concept of a casino as Representative Williamson and Senator Alves would have you believe they are. Some parts of the town do support it. Other parts are absolutely opposed to it. The fifth ward, where the casino would be built, is largely opposed to it. Many people in the first ward, where I live, which is up against the Cranston line, are not too thrilled with it. The middle of the town, the second, third, and fourth wards, varies from voter to voter. I think you will find, when itís all said and done, perhaps a small majority, 52-53% of West Warwick residents are in favor of the casino and the other 47-48% are not.

AR: Any thoughts on the casino on its merits?
JC: I have personal thoughts on the casino. Iím sure we all do and we will all have an opportunity to express those thoughts when we get into the voting booth in November.

Personally, Iím opposed to the casino on a variety of levels. First of all, as a business, it doesnít develop any value. All it succeeds in doing is transferring small amounts of money from individuals to a big pile of money controlled by fewer individuals. It doesnít provide any value-added like real industry does.

At the same time, it brings with it a tremendous number of social problems that I donít think weíre prepared to deal with. There was an article in the paper the other day that said the state of Connecticut spends about one-and-a-half million dollars per-year on their gambling addiction programs, while the State of Rhode Island was spending only $150,000, and they just cut that by 10%, so now weíre down to $135,000. Weíre not prepared to even begin to look at that kind of a social problem.

As far as this concept of abating taxes, I think that itís just not honest. I think itís insincere. When you take a look at the overall picture, the tax situation is not going to change dramatically as a result of the casino. All itís going to do is put a lot of money back into Harrahís and give some money Ė some, not a lot Ė to the Narragansett Indians.

AR: One of the arguments I would expect your opponent (Stephen Alves) to make for he re-election is that as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, he can do lots of good for the people of West Warwick. How would you respond?
JC: I would say that he works for UBS-Paine Webber and heís done an awful lot of good with investments for himself by handling the money thatís been available to him as Senate Finance Chair. Heís taken good care of Stephen Alves by making a fair amount of commissions with investments of all sorts of monies from the state treasury, beginning with the Tobacco settlement.

AR: What are the other issues important to you?
JC: I have no conflict of interest. I will have only one constituency that I am responsible to; those are the voters. Iím not interested in supporting any private interests or special interests or organizational interests outside of the Rhode Islanders who put me in office and even those who donít put me in office, those who saw it differently. Nonetheless, if I am elected, I will be their Senator too and do the best possible job that I can do.

Not belonging to the insidersí club, I think is a very important asset. The insiders club is costing the people of the state of Rhode Island an awful lot of money. We look at things like the impediments that have been put in the way of voter initiative, of separation-of-powers, of tax-increment restrictions (two-and-a-half percent over the cost of living increases) and of other things of that nature. Those impediments have been expensive.

The legislature has been outspending itself year-after-year-after-year for many years. Itís time we began to take a look at doing some really meaningful sunset on some legislation. Weíve got to put price-tags on legislation thatís passed, and sunsets on each piece of legislation that goes through, especially if it carries a big price-tag. We have to be able to effectively and meaningfully look at legislation in terms of its dollars and cents. Thatís an issue not being handled right now.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Though he doesn't have the public recognition that montalbano, murphy, williamson, or fox have, Stevie Alves is one of the most ethically challenged legislators in the state. Just go back to the last time that clarke and alves faced off where alves violated elections law b producing a false ballot and distributing it throughout west warwick.

john clarke, on the other hand has proven himself to be of the highest principle, ethics, and overall character and would certainly make west warwick proud as its representative

Posted by: johnb at August 8, 2006 6:50 PM

HA! Johnb you are so clueless it is laughable. I'm a WW resident and he did NOT distribute a false ballot. He did a campaign piece that resembled a ballot..which is totally legal. Everyone does it. What is ILLEGAL is to produce an exact replica of the ballot. Get your facts straight. Alves has been wonderful for WW. Clarke is Jennifer Lawless to Alves' Langevin. In other words, he has NO SHOT.

Posted by: Wade at August 10, 2006 10:25 AM