My name is Belen Florez.
I have lived in Providence nearly forty years. I am 48 years old. As a wife and mother of two children, David and Jacklin, that have grown into wonderful human-beings, I feel blessed. And when I became a grandmother I realized how fortunate my husband Jorge and I were to cherish every moment we have with our family.
Over the last five years I have been paying serious attention to our legislative body and the direction our district has been taking. My heart aches from the lack of movement in our community. It is as if we have been standing still for years, maybe even decades. And because of it, everything around us is decaying.
In Need of Change
We, as a city are not getting the necessary money to grow and maintain ourselves from tax exempt institutions. Our children do not feel safe in our schools, which are crumbling and deteriorating.
Our streets are filled with crime and violence. Our seniors are looking to stay in their homes and be able to afford their health care and medication. Our tax rates are not affordable and need to change. Our residents are longing for decent ethical representation, without conflicts of interest.
For these reasons, I have declared my candidacy for State Representative in District 7.
I knew it wouldn’t be an easy task but I never expected to receive the resistance I am getting from the Democratic Party.
I am proud to have received the Democratic endorsement from the 7th Representative District Committee. My opponent, Representative Daniel McKiernan did not seek the endorsement from the local district committee, yet he says he didn’t get it because he is not an insider. But he has raked in thousands of dollars from state house lobbyists and the maximum $1000 donation from Speaker Nicholas Mattiello. He also was appointed a Municipal Court Judge just one month after being elected as State Representative four years ago and got an ethics approval to be a law partner with a high powered state house lobbyist he shared a law office with shortly after being sworn in.
My endorsement came from the 7th Representative district Committee which are community residents who live and care about our neighborhood. Even though I received the legal Democratic endorsement in accordance with state laws, the State Party chairman chose to try to override my endorsement in a letter to the Secretary of State by endorsing my opponent. My endorsement was not overturned and I continue to be the official Democratic endorsed candidate. But I am not receiving any assistance from the state Democratic Party, such as the “Van list” that is given to other endorsed candidates. This is disappointing because the Democratic Party claims to welcome all under their umbrella. I did not think this was a reputation the Democratic Party wanted to achieve.
After numerous emails and phone calls since June 29, 2018, I still have not been give the same assistance as the other endorsed Democratic candidates.
On Thursday, August 16, I called again and talked to a gentleman named Kevin, who said I could meet him on Monday, August 20th, to go over the list. I took a day out of work to meet him. He cancelled our meeting on Monday, saying he had to make phone calls instead.
My opponent clearly has the support of Speaker Nicholas Mattiello. Teams of canvassers, including state workers, are walking the streets with him.
This treatment, I realize is not unique to me. I see how the other Democratic women candidates, including incumbents, have been treated by the State Democratic chairman and Party. As a first time candidate, I am beginning to see why so many do not run and why so many incumbents are unopposed.
Not Unique Treatment
Since April I have walked the streets of my district, heard my neighbor’s concerns and shared my ideas. I hear them and will be there for them as their voice. I will take my case to the people of my neighborhood. I will represent my district and only them, not the special interests that are plaguing, our state house. I want to represent my district to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Endorsed Democrat for State Representative
Providence, RI 02908
(Editor’s Note: RI Relevant will run one Op-Ed from every statewide or state legislative candidate in this year’s election cycle. Please send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org)