By TRACEY O'NEILL
Special to the Standard
Representative Doreen Costa, (R-District 31) is already heavily vested in her campaign for re-election. Seeking a second term, Costa has been out in the neighborhoods of her newly formed district, knocking on doors and introducing herself to her newest constituents.
The statewide redistricting plan, a result of mandated reapportionment after the 2010 census, was initially met with resistance from several area representatives, including Costa and Representative Laurence Ehrhardt (R-District 32). Approved in February, the plan saw the first-term representative retaining her entire voting district, while expanding her reach into Quonset and Davisville.
Costa and her team say they plan on being visible throughout the campaign and have already reached out to residents in nearly 600 homes.
“We are boots on the ground here,” she said. “I have been out in my new district meeting people. The response has been overwhelming.”
With Costa’s first “toot and wave” of the campaign behind her, the Representative says she is all set to work
the campaign into her daily routine through November.
Costa says her one-on-one approach with constituents has been successful with people eager to talk and tell their stories. The tales, which Costa remarks are often laden with economic strife and frustration, motivated the representative to take a hard line on increased taxation during state budget negotiations.
“It’s the economy,” offered Costa in a phone interview after marathon budget sessions at the House last week. “The economy will determine this election.” Keeping her promise to be accessible, Costa says she does her best to return phone calls every day.
“The economy is really bad and for me it’s all about my constituents,” she said. “People are unemployed. They are calling to ask for help - tell me about a family member. If I can help just one person in a day, I’ve done my job.”
Turning the conversation to the upcoming election and her plans for a potential next term, Costa laid out her blueprint for cooperative efforts at the local level.
“My plans going forward are to work closely with the Town Council and try to revitalize Post Road,” she said. “As a member of the General Assembly, you have very little power over what happens locally. The Town Council has more power at the local level. We need to restore Post Road - make it more attractive to businesses. That’s a local project. I’m hoping that I can work with the Town Council to move it forward. Post Road is at the heart of my district.”
The economy is also at the forefront of the representative’s fundraising plans.
“I am only having one fundraiser,” she said. “People are hurting. This is no time to be asking them to donate money to political campaigns.”
Costa’s fundraiser to support her campaign efforts will take place in July and she is confident she will raise enough funds to get through to November.
Although supporters may take up the fundraising charge, her choice to limit what she will ask from her constituents hinges, she said, on personal knowledge of hard times.
“I know what it’s like,” Costa said. “People are finding it hard to put food on the table. I’ve been there.”
With more toot and waves scheduled for Saturdays on the corner of the now vacant Tarbox lot on Post Road, Costa says she is not worrying about the fundraising aspect of the campaign.
As to whether her strategy will be successful in the upcoming election, Costa cautioned, “I always say that they may be able to outspend me, but I work really hard.”
As part of our election coverage this year, the Standard-Times will profile candidates running in both local and statewide elections in a series entitled “Campaign 2012.” These stories are not an endorsement of the candidates or the positions they hold.