WBNA's 5th annual Conversation with our Elected Officials was the featured event at our March Neighborhood Nights meeting. Like the year before, the evening was held in a town hall meeting style, and was entirely devoted to questions from the audience and from online submissions.
Legislators in attendance were Senator Paul V. Jabour, Representative John J. Lombardi, and Representative Anastasia Williams. While two councilpersons had confirmed, neither was able to attend. With a smaller delegation and a Q&A format, the evening was fast-paced and candid, as each legislator had only 1 minute to answer a given question.
Photos courtesy of Rebecca Atwood
Questions were wide ranging and covered local, state and nationally-focused issues. Topics included the enforcement of ordinances for things such as illegal signage and parking; reproductive rights; gun control; restoring state programs for historic tax credits and film tax credits; the proposed development at 1292 Westminster Street; marijuana legalization; the Early Childhood Innovation Act; funding sources for public schools facilities; and rent control.
One question in particular shed light on the quieter and sometimes more personal side of our attending state legislators' work: "What legislation have you championed and did not get passed?" Representative Williams told of legislation she supported that was "near and dear" to her, that would reduce the regulatory obstacles and burdens imposed on practitioners of natural hair braiding to run their businesses.
Senator Jabour, who has been advocating to keep funds flowing to the rehabilitation of the Cranston Street Armory, was not able to get the $3 million requested this year, but stated that he will ask for $5 million next year.
Representative Lombardi told of bills he championed but did not pass that would limit state legislators to 3 four-year terms, and that would prohibit lobbyists' donations to officials while in legislative session. He also supported the expansion of domestic abuse orders to protect pets.
To see unedited video footage of legislators' responses to all questions, please see journalist Steve Ahlquist's coverage and recordings of the meeting here.
We thank our neighbors who came out to participate in this conversation and our elected officials who made the time to be with their constituents in this intimate forum. We look forward to continuing to work with legislators and neighbors on many of the issues raised at this event.
Senator Paul V. Jabour, District 5
Representative John J. Lombardi, District 8
Representative Anastasia Williams, District 9