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MEET THE CANDIDATES: Representative in General Assembly

October 31, 2012


Name: Steve Anthony Campo
Date of birth: April 20, 1958
Address : 23 Austin Road, North Kingstown, RI
Education: Bachelors - Managerial Economics, Rhode Island College, 1980; MBA - Specialization in Management , Bryant University, 1983.
Employment Information: Rhode Island School of Design, Assistant Controller, Rhode Island School of Design, Instructor and Lecturer, Cranston Public Schools, Teacher, Taught Accounting, Roger Williams University, Adjunct professor of business, Bryant University, Smithfield R.I. Adjunct professor of Business/Entrepreneurship, Rhode Island Green - Founder and President, 2006-2008 Elected Member , North Kingstown Town Council, 2006-2008 Member, Quonset Development Corporation board of Directors, 2006-2008 Member, Affordable Housing Task Force, 2006-2008 Member, North Kingstown Groundwater Advisory Committee,
Running for position: State Representative, District 31
Political Background: Elected Member, North Kingstown Town Council, 2006-2008; Unsuccessful bid for State Senate District 35, 2010.
Why have you decided to run for office for first time (or again)? My name is Steve Campo and I am running for State Representative in District 31, North Kingstown and Exeter. I am a local businessman/entrepreneur with 25 years of experience as the founder and owner of Rhode Island Green. Currently, I teach at Bryant University. I am running because I am extremely concerned about the direction our State has taken. We can't ask our families to live within their means when the state can't do the same. As your State Representative, I will work towards a state government that we can all afford. The government needs to cultivate an environment that creates jobs. We must start local and ask ourselves how we can keep and grow our local businesses already in place. I have experience that can be applied to help our state in this area. We cannot continue business as usual because it has become unsustainable. Further, our roads and bridges are deplorable and we must make the necessary investments in our communities' infrastructure to ensure safety for all our citizens and to attract new businesses. Rhode Island is a great place to live and work. I am a life-long resident. I went to both undergraduate and graduate school in RI and I plan on retiring here.

Name: Doreen Costa
Address: 39 Dyer Avenue, North Kingstown, RI.
Date of Birth: October 9, 1964
Phone Number: 206-6891
E-Mail Address: HYPERLINK ""
Office Sought: State Representative, District 31
Party Affiliation: Republican
Occupation: Account executive, WPRO/Cumulus Broadcasting
Education: Johnston High School and one year at CCRI
Political Background: State Representative (2010-present).
Community Activities (Five or fewer): NK food pantry food drives, active with Operation Stand Down, member of St Francis Church.
Why have you decided to run for office for first time (or again)? I have decided to run again for office to be a voice for the taxpayer.
What are your platforms/plans for the area if elected? My main issue would be to eliminate burdensome regulations and excessive taxes such as the minimum business tax that are killing the small business community. I have submitted legislation in my first term to help the small business owner and will continue to do so. Addressing the needs of small business owners is paramount to creating jobs on our states.
I will also do everything I can to help every veteran that has served—past and present and future. I take my role on the Veterans Affair committee and on the board of directors of Operation stand down very seriously. Providing veterans with basics services they and their families deserve is a priority of mine.
Adult education is also something I plan on working on. There are many adults that have not finished college due to illness, family issues or money. It’s never too late to go back to school for personal betterment. I also feel this is important to keep jobs right here in our state.


Name: Robert Emmett Craven, Sr.
Address: 25 Highland Road; Saunderstown, RI 02874
Date of Birth: November 19, 1955
Daytime Phone Number: 401-295-9050
Cell Phone Number: 401-935-0465
E-Mail Address:
Office Sought: State Representative, District 32
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Occupation: Attorney
Education: La Salle Academy, University of RI; New England School of Law
Political Background: North Kingstown Town Council, 1994-1996
Community Activities (Five or fewer): Coach at Ocean State Soccer; Wickford Little League-Manager, Team Sponsor; RI Coalition for the Homeless-Run Free Monthly Legal Clinic; Plum Beach Club-Member; North Kingstown Athletic Boosters Club
Why have you decided to run for office for first time (or again)? Citizenship requires service to the community. Although I have served as a North Kingstown Councilman from 1994-1996, coached youth sports and participated in charitable work in these difficult economic times, I felt that it was time to give back to my community by serving in the legislature and making a real difference.
What are your platforms/plans for the area if elected? In short, the economy, taxes, creating private sector jobs and upgrading education are my primary goals and I believe that these issues are the primary goals of my future constituents.
My priorities will be as follows: 1. Introduce legislation to revamp the State economic development corporation and bring it into the governor's office. This will prevent another "Studio 38" disaster from ever happening again; 2. Introduce legislation to require the State to pay for the impact that the Quonset Industrial Park has on town services and infrastructure. The State currently makes similar payment to the City of Warwick for the Airport's impact on the City; 3. Introduce legislation to establish a Study Commission to explore rolling back the start of the school year until after Labor Day (as it used to be), to increase the summer tourism season and create additional State revenue.

Name: Laurence W. Ehrhardt
Address: 49 Main Street, North Kingstown, RI 02852
Date of Birth: May 20, 1940
Daytime Phone Number: (401) 295-4352
E-Mail Address:
Office Sought: State Representative, District 32
Party Affiliation: Republican
Occupation: Corporate treasurer (retired)
Education: Yale University, BA Economics; Harvard Business School, MBA
Political Background: Republican, State Representative since 2005, member House Committee of Finance, Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, Committee on Small Business
Community Activities (Five or fewer): US Navy veteran, served on Quonset Point Advisory Committee and Coastal Resources Management Council.
Why have you decided to run for office for first time (or again)? Every candidate for office is talking about the need to create a better business climate that will reduce our staggering unemployment problem (second worst in the nation). The vast majority of members in the General Assembly are either public sector employees or lawyers with no training or experience in economics or business. I have that experience and am willing continue serving the voters of district 32.
What are your platforms/plans for the area if elected? Identify and oppose special deals for special interests; spend our tax money wisely; promote economic development; develop a rational energy policy; seek real property tax relief.


Name: Larry Valencia
Address: 2 Oak Hill Drive
Date of Birth: July 29, 1958
Daytime Phone Number: (401) 539-3420
Cell Phone Number: (401) 248-8355
E-Mail Address:
Office Sought: State Representative, District 39 (Richmond, Exeter, Hopkinton)
Party Affiliation: Democratic
Occupation: Freelance technical and medical writer
Education: Newington H.S., Newington CT, 1976; B.S. Chemistry, Charter Oak College, Farmington, CT 1988; M.S. Pharmaceutical Science St. John’s University, Jamaica, NY 1997.
Political Background: Elected to RI House of Representatives, District 39 (November, 2010-present); Richmond Home Rule Charter Commission, 2007 (Chairman of this group from June 2007 until November 2008). Appointed to House Committee on Finance (January 2011 – present), RI Drought Steering Committee (April, 2012 to present), Richmond Zoning Board of Review (member 2002 – 2012), Richmond Economic Development Commission, 2007 to present (Chairman from 2007 – 2010).
Community Activities (Five or fewer): Coach Hopkinton Recreation, co-ed t-ball, 2005; Coach Hopkinton Recreation, co-ed and girls basketball 2006 – 2010; Coach, Chariho Girls Softball, 2007 – 2010; Past President and Board Member of Operation Clean Government, 2008 – 2010; Member, Common Cause Rhode Island
Why have you decided to run for office again? Although I’ve learned a tremendous amount in my first two years, I feel I have more to learn and more to contribute if I’m fortunate enough to be re-elected. I have found the challenge of serving in this role to be interesting and satisfying, especially since I’m the only Democrat from South County on the Finance Committee.
I’ve had a life-long interest in public service, and I see serving as the State Representative as a wonderful opportunity to give back to the communities that I love so dearly. Since moving to Rhode Island in 1998, I’ve served the Town of Richmond in various roles: Zoning Board, EDC, and as Chairman of the Home Rule Charter Commission.
As a freshman legislator I’ve worked very hard to represent Richmond, Charlestown and Exeter. I serve on the House Committee on Finance (the only regular member to serve on all five subcommittees), which allows me to act as a fiscal watchdog, ensuring that our tax dollars are being spent wisely. Although we’ve made progress in making our budget less susceptible to annual structural deficits, there is more we can do as a Committee and more I can do as a member.
Our Committee pushed back on Governor Chafee’s combined proposed $280 million in new sales taxes over the two-year period, and we balanced the budget by only raising taxes and fees approximately $40 million – finding the other $240 million in savings and budget cuts.
And although there’s been progress these past two years in making the General Assembly more transparent (floor and committees votes are posted to the state website, many committee hearings are televised and archived, and the rest have audio recordings of the proceedings) there is more we can do to make our voting records easier to use.
What are your platforms/plans for the area if elected? Although unemployment has dropped from 12 percent to 10.5 percent, it is still way too high and people are still suffering. I’ll support improvements in workforce development to help unemployed Rhode Islanders qualify for the open jobs that already exist but can’t be filled.
I’ll continue cosponsoring legislation with Rep. Pat Serpa who works with the federal Small Business Administration to identify ways to reduce red tape and regulations that will small business growth and new jobs.
I will continue to fight for tax reform, to ensure that the hard-working families of the middle class, small businesses, and the elderly and veterans on fixed incomes can thrive. We’ve been cutting taxes for the highest earners these past 12 years. I’d like to see tax reform with extra revenue going as aid to cities and towns (to provide property tax relief) and reductions to both the minimum corporation tax and the overall corporate tax rate. These changes will encourage new business and persuade successful businesses to stay in Rhode Island. I’m a good government advocate. I was the lead sponsor of a bill to create an Office of Inspector General – an independent agency with subpoena power that has the tools to reduce waste, fraud, corruption and mismanagement. An IG office would cost $500k to $1 million to set up, but has the ability to save the state many millions more – and every jurisdiction that has an IG (Massachusetts and Texas, for example) saves more money than it spends. And even though we’ve had some progress with transparency these past two years (online recording of floor and committee votes, audio and video recording of committee meetings) I will continue to fight for more improvements in open, honest, and transparent government, such as turning the voting records of legislators into a searchable database.
I’ll continue to fight for environmental protections to sustain our quality of life. We need sustainable growth and sustainable energy projects to ensure that our lovely corner of South County remains vibrant: a popular tourist attraction and a great place to raise a family.

Name: Clay P Johnson
Address: 184 Richmond Townhouse Road, Richmond, RI 02812
Date of Birth: September 2, 1969
Phone Number: (401) 225-3105
E-Mail Address:
Office Sought: State Representative
Party Affiliation: Republican
Occupation: Small Business Owner
Education: Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering, URI; Masters in Business, Regis University.
Political Background: None – I support a citizen legislature void of entrenched professional politicians.
Community Activities (Five or fewer): Chair of the Board, Southern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce; Past Secretary, RI Chamber of Commerce Coalition; Past Treasurer, Compass School Council; Habitat for Humanity Supporter; Matty Fund Supporter.
Why have you decided to run for office for first time (or again)? I have a simple wish. I would like my children, now 14 and 12, to have the opportunity to grow up, have wonderful careers, and raise families right here in Rhode Island. My name is Clay Johnson, and I am running for State Representative because the entrenched politicians are stealing your future. We are three years into an economic recovery, and Rhode Island is stuck in neutral. We are living with 10+ percent unemployment, ranked last for business friendliness, and spending money so fast it would make a drunken sailor blush.
As a Representative in the General Assembly. I will not be creating and providing government jobs for my friends. I will work to create an environment of opportunity so that my children can find meaningful work in Rhode Island’s private sector. I expect more from my State Rep. Do you?
What are your platforms/plans for the area if elected? It is time for our elected officials to understand that business is their partner. In Rhode Island, this is especially true of small business. Jack Welch, ‘America’s CEO’, pulled General Electric out of Rhode Island 17 years ago “because of the crazy tax burden there.” The closed-door meetings and midnight sessions serve only the entrenched politicians. They continue to play Robin Hood, stealing from hardworking Rhode Islanders only to give their lazy friends jobs. You know as well as I do that it is not government’s job to manage the economy. It is government’s job to ensure a civil society and get out of the way. Tax policy matters. Regulatory policy matters.
I am a small business owner in Rhode Island. I have been ‘in the soup’ for six years now. I have watched, and hoped that the professional politicians would get it right. They have not. So I offer my experience: URI graduate in Electrical Engineering, Masters in Business Administration, 36 years living in Rhode Island, 7 years working in 15 US states and 4 countries.
Here are my thoughts on fixing this mess. First, there needs to be a sustained effort to limit the concentration of power. If power were dilute enough, Rhode Island would not be susceptible to the perverse influence of corruption. Free enterprise requires fair and open government processes. Ultimately, enduring change will require term limits in our Rhode Island constitution. So I will call for a constitutional convention.
Second, the reforms that are taking place in our K-12 schools must continue, and we need to continue to make higher education accessible to our legal residents. Building a modern workforce is essential to support the new start-ups, grow existing businesses, and attract companies that seek to relocate.
Third, we need to reform the business climate. We need to encourage business expansion, not through tax credits (corporate welfare) but through smart tax and regulatory policy. For instance, we need to overhaul our unemployment system, consistently ranked worst in the country. We need to include sunset provisions on our laws to avoid the accumulation of outdated rules of government. We need to bring sanity to the budgeting process by spending less than we take in, and we need to hold state department managers accountable to their budgets and accountable for results. On November 6th, I ask for your vote.

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