By TRACEY O’NEILL
Special to the Standard
NORTH KINGSTOWN– State Democratic Committee Chair, Edwin R. Pacheco made the request and local attorney, Robert Craven took about 45 minutes to decide.
A North Kingstown resident, Craven, a former state prosecutor will be challenging either , incumbent, Laurence W. Ehrhardt (R - 32) or his republican opponent, Sharon Gamba in the general election in November.
An eleventh hour decision with no Democratic candidate coming forth on Declaration Day, Robert Craven got the call. “It wasn’t a tough decision to make. I’ve always believed in public service, from when I first served as a prosecutor in the Attorney General’s office until now. Whether it was in the legal or political arena or just coaching in town, I believe that you have to do your part,” Craven said in an interview in his Post Road office. “No one was running and the committee asked me. It wasn’t a difficult decision.”
Craven, who passed the bar in 1983, is a fiscal conservative. Contemplating the issues facing the state and his potential constituent base, he is firm on the need for action and accountability. Referencing the recent CNBC report, America’s Top State for Business 2012, ranking Rhode Island the worst state in the United States for business (for the second year in a row), Craven took a hard line.
“We need to take a look at every aspect of the budget, take the data placed before us and go through it step by step,” he said. “We need to understand the reasons why we are in this situation and turn it around.”
Extolling the beauty and unique character of the state as an economic development tool, Craven voiced his frustration with the lack of initiative to grow the state’s economy through its own natural resources.
“As the Ocean State, we don’t need to create a grand plan,” he said. “We need to look at the resources we have right here.”
The candidate took a positive stance on growing business within his district and bringing economic stability to the state. “This is a manageable problem that can be turned around. We need to get the word out that Rhode Island is a place where people and businesses want to come. We have to go outside the state, advertise, let [them] know that we’re here and make it more attractive.”
A former Councilman, Craven served the town from 1994-1996. Working to bring business to the area, he helped negotiate a payment in lieu of taxes plan for the Quonset Industrial Park as a means of attracting business, creating jobs and generating tax revenue for the town. “We have to get away from regressive taxation. It doesn’t work at any level and isn’t fiscally viable for municipalities.”
Presently the solicitor for the Town of Charlestown and its probate judge, Craven understands municipal law. “I’ve been the solicitor for the town of Foster, assistant solicitor for the city of East Providence and now serve in Charlestown,” explained the candidate. “Municipalities aren’t revenue generators. They are revenue absorbers who spend revenue providing services to the communities.”
The candidate understands fiscal policy when it works and when it doesn’t. Serving the state as the Chief of the Public Corruptions Unit, Craven served during the Rhode Island banking crisis more than two decades ago and more recently stepped in as solicitor for the City of East Providence during its financial crisis.
A supporter of renewable energy and green energy sources, Craven believes that as a country we need to reduce our reliance on the Middle East. “My feeling is the same as that of Warren Buffett, who I believe is first a patriot and then a businessman. If we don’t move towards renewable and green energy sources, we will forever be at the mercy of the Middle East.”
At a local level, the candidate also supports wind energy and alternate clean energy usage.
“The ‘in my backyard’ issue is always going to exist, whether it be a wind turbine or other source. We have to find proper placement and usage. That is sometimes a difficult task. There is always going to be someone who doesn’t want it.”
Once again giving credit to the state’s natural resources, Craven spoke of agriculture and aquaculture as a means of preserving the natural beauty and environmental health of local resources. “I believe that we should encourage the use of aquaculture farms as a means for preserving and restoring the bay and promote green initiatives locally.”
On Civil Rights
I think we need to concentrate on restoring the economy and putting people back in jobs. I think we need to stop wasting time talking about and trying to legislate issues that are not relevant to the problems people are presently facing,” cautioned Craven. “You won’t find me voting on civil rights issues that have already been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.”
On Running for Office
“I have a stake in the game,” Craven replied. “You can have an opinion or you can get involved.”
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.
Tracey O’Neill is a reporter experienced in the South County area and is an independent contractor with SRI Newspapers.