By TRACEY O’NEILL
Special to The Standard
State Representative Laurence W. Ehrhardt says he will be running on his record, with an eye toward resolving the issues that remain outstanding from past administrations and getting the job done.
“It’s a continuation of the work I’ve been advocating for over the last eight years,” Ehrhardt said.
Ehrhardt spoke as to the frustration with bi-partisan politics as a causal effect stagnating growth and opportunity. “
We know what the issues are and have known,” he said. “It’s not a question of coming up with a new plan. We need to get the job done. We need to work on getting the votes in the General Assembly to get it done.”
Ehrhardt, running as an endorsed Republican is seeking his third term in office. Speaking in phone interview, the Representative was contemplative regarding the economy.
“It’s bad,” he said. “The economy is bad, here and across the country.”
When asked about the current unemployment rate and the need to create qualified jobs for Rhode Islanders, Ehrhardt spoke to the success of the Quonset Business Park and his work with Quonset Development Corporation (QDC), as a boon to economic development in the state. The representative who served on the Port Study Commission heralded the growth of the business park and the recent approval of the Port of Davisville Bond.
The port currently hosts 1,100 employees and the number is expected to increase once the dredge is complete, allowing for larger container ships, more efficient commerce and increased activity. The representative voiced his support for attracting big business to the state as a means for furthering economic development and job opportunity.
“[My] colleagues stand before the committees and testify that big business is somehow bad for the economy. How can you attract business - bring businesses here when they are hearing this kind of testimony,” asked Ehrhardt. “It doesn’t work.”
Ehrhardt who recently opposed the re-districting decisions based on census requirements, has put the changes behind him.
“The re-districting caused me to lose 2000 constituents that I served for eight years,” he said. “I now have 2,000 new constituents to serve. The demographics haven’t changed substantially in my base.”
Ehrhardt will be facing a Republican challenger in the primary in Sharon Gamba, and Democrat Robert Craven, in the general election. Speaking to his constituents over the holiday weekend, the Representative was faced with economic questions and concerns.
“It’s the economy. We need to create many more employment opportunities at all levels - get people working.”
Increased taxes, particularly property taxes were high on the priority list.
“People are feeling the pressure of property tax increases,” he said. “The issues have been on the table - talked about. It’s time to get them resolved.”
Tracey O’Neill is a reporter experienced in the South County area and is an independent contractor with SRI Newspapers.