WORK AHEAD: Brendan Doherty, the Republican challenger for the 1st Congressional District seat held by Rep. David N. Cicilline, says that employment remains the largest issue in Rhode Island.
PBN PHOTO/NATALJA KENT
By Richard Asinof
PBN: What are the three biggest issues here in Rhode Island that you will be able to work on when you are in Congress?
DOHERTY: The top three are: jobs, jobs, jobs.
PBN: You have voiced support for the Infrastructure, Jobs and Energy Independence Act, [introduced by House Republicans on May 12, calling for expansion of oil and gas exploration and drilling on public lands and waters]. How will this new «constant "all-in" energy program create a transition to a more renewable energy future without the need for new taxes?
DOHERTY: The Infrastructure Jobs and Energy Act is a designed so that we're taking revenue from leased public land, so it wouldn't create new taxes at all. It's actually taking money from the ground.
We’ve been talking about energy independence since 1973, since the Arab oil embargo, so I think it’s important that we have action now.
Our gas prices are somewhere around $4 dollars a gallon. We have hard-working Americans trying to food on the table, trying to raise a family, and that’s just money out of their pockets. It’s about time we stopped relying so heavily on OPEC nations and countries that don’t like us so much.
We’re an energy-rich country, with the Marcellus shale, and opportunities in the Outer Continental Bank and Alaska and the Gulf [of Mexico].
PBN: One of the major drawbacks for companies looking to expand or locate in Rhode Island is the perceived lack of a skilled workforce. What kinds of programs and investments would you advocate for to improve the skills of Rhode Island's workers?
DOHERTY: Basically, what I'm talking about with the infrastructure jobs act is to bring that money to all of the states, it's obviously a federal bill. We really need it here in Rhode Island, because all the manufacturing companies that I visited, and those that I've toured, tell me that they can hire people tomorrow morning, if they could match the skills with that job description.
I’ve had several meetings in the inner city, South Providence area. A lot of politicians talk about helping them out, helping them with training, but have really done nothing. Through the power of my congressional office, I would create a free training program in the inner cities for some of the basic needs for our workers. So that’s something that I’ll pledge to offer: free training in the Greater Providence area.
PBN: The Knowledge District in Providence has great promise to be an economic engine. How would you support its development as a member of Congress?