Hello Kossacks - I’m Providence Mayor David Cicilline and I am running for Congress in Rhode Island’s First Congressional District for the seat currently held by Patrick Kennedy.
As a longtime reader and first time blogger on Kos, I am thrilled to come here to the nexus of the online progressive community to introduce myself and hear from you about how we can put Congress back on track.
I have served as Mayor of Providence since 2003 – an experience that has been incredibly challenging at times but also incredibly rewarding. From the potholes that need to be filled to balancing a budget so we can provide vital social services, I've seen how my work impacts constituents every day.
It’s this sort of personal connection to voters, and the intimate understanding of the issues they care about, that Congress has been lacking. Look at any recent poll and you’ll see that hardworking men and women have lost faith that government can have a positive impact on their lives.
I want to go to Washington to get Congress working again and craft effective, progressive policies that do more to address the issues important to voters and help working families find economic security in this very difficult economic climate.
Right now, in Rhode Island, 12% of workers can’t find jobs – the fourth highest rate in the nation. But in spite of this, we’ve worked hard to find innovative solutions to expand opportunities for jobs and job training services.
My campaign recently rolled out a new television ad highlighting the work I’ve done on this issue:
Last February, I fought to put $10 million in unused TANF funding towards creating the Jobs Now Providence program, which provides up to 100% wage reimbursements for companies that are willing to hire low-income, unemployed area residents. A few months later, the Governor followed our lead and put $46 million towards creating the Jobs Now Rhode Island program that is currently putting people to work.
I’ve also worked with City Hall officials to expand opportunities in the green energy sector and give residents employment options for a new economy. In April, we established the $3.1 million "Green Pathways Out of Poverty" program to train low-income, unemployed residents for green collar jobs. Last month, 200 people applied for the 16-week training program which will provide job placement assistance with a focus on weatherization and green construction-related fields.
These are the types of real solutions that the Beltway has been lacking for far too long. If I am fortunate enough to be elected to Congress this fall, I will start fighting on Day One to provide voters with real opportunities to succeed in the face of an ongoing recession.
That’s why I’ve proposed that Congress create a "Made in America Block Grant" to help retool small manufacturers and provide workers with training to get the skills they need to compete in today’s economy.
Rhode Island was once a leading manufacturing hub – producing jewelry, boats, electronics, and other goods – until those jobs were shipped overseas. By offering manufacturers grants to expand their operations in areas such as biomedical and pharmaceutical research, medical devices, and the development of alternative sources of energy, we can create new American manufacturing jobs that provide workers with a secure economic future.
I will also fight to establish a National Infrastructure Bank that awards funding for local infrastructure projects on a nonpartisan basis. As many of you may know, this idea was first proposed by Senators Chris Dodd and Chuck Hagel in 2007, and I believe it’s long past time for Congress to put it into practice. This new entity would not only help create new jobs, but also rebuild an infrastructure that has been left unattended for far too long.
No issue is more important to me than making sure hardworking American men and women have the chance to succeed in spite of a difficult economic climate. I’ve fought for every job I can as Mayor of Providence and I will continue to do so if I am elected to Congress.
Thank you for taking the time to read my introduction to the Kos community. And thank you for all the work you have done to advance progressive policies in our national discourse – I continue to be amazed at how, in Margaret Mead’s words, "a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world."
If you have any questions, please leave them for me in the comments section and I will try to answer them in a future diary, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing more from you about how, together, we can help put Congress and our country back on the right track.