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EDITOR'S NOTE-> The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Standard-Times for publication in the September 6 issue. Unfortunately, because of a lack of space, not all letters submitted were printed.
To the Editor:
In the Republican primary race for District 32, incumbent Representative Larry Ehrhardt is being challenged by Sharon Gamba.
Representative Ehrhardt is well known in our district and has capably served his constituents for eight years now. He is a well-respected voice in the General Assembly â€“ by both parties - in his work trying to lower our taxes and apply common sense policies to our state.
Mrs. Gamba frequently refers to herself as a â€śsmall business owner.â€ť A brief internet search shows that her business interest is as Vice President and General Manager of Cranston Collision Center. This auto body shop is one of the leading shops in the state, with apparently over 20 employees, and is a shop that many insurers refer customers to when asked for a referral. She and her husband Dennis should be proud of the business they have built in this state.
However one might have concern, given her business interests, over Sharon Gambaâ€™s representation of District 32 voters.
In recent years, there have been two State Representatives who were either body shop owners or close relatives of body shop owners.
During this time, with the strong support of these Representatives, and their lobby, the Legislature has passed 17 special interest bills introduced and supported by auto body shops. The result of these bills is that Rhode Island is one of the most expensive states in the nation to repair a vehicle. This does not serve Rhode Island consumers nor our district well.
One would have to question, particularly in light of the contentious debate in the General Assembly this spring over auto body issues (and the late night passage of a bill which was thankfully later vetoed by the Governor), whether Ms. Gamba is running to represent the interests of District 32 residents or the auto body shops. Has Ms. Gamba pledged not to be involved in any way with the auto body bills that are sure to surface in the House in 2013? This might be something you want to consider before going to the polls this September 11.
Carl and Pam Neal