EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Clay Pell of Providence, has thrown his hat into the ring as Democratic candidate for governor. While many know his grandfather – the late U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell – few know little about the 32-year-old and his policy priorities.
During a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers, Pell was asked where he stood on several key issues.
This Q&A was edited for clarity and length.
Q: Do you support standardized tests as a graduation requirement?
Pell: “I think we have devoted a lot of energy to standardized tests. Standardized tests have an important role to play, but I think the main focus should be on how we are equipping students with the skills to compete in the 21st Century … I do not think graduation requirement should not be based on a standardized test.”
Q: As governor would you keep Education Commissioner Deborah Gist?
Pell: “As governor I think it’s very important the governor have opportunity to choose his or her own cabinet officials and as governor I think that is something I would want to do: to look very carefully at my Education Commissioner. …. I’m not going through thinking about whom I’m going to be choosing as Commissioner of Education at this point.”
Q: Taxes. Do you think there is enough tax revenue coming into state government right now to fund you priorities or would you need higher taxes?
Pell: “We have an $8.5 billion budget, I’m confident as governor we will be able to find areas of growth in order to focus on the things we have to. The things we have to being: education, roads and bridges and of course making our business climate competitive.”
Q: Would you have signed the pension reform law of 2011 if you were governor?
Pell: “I think it’s very important for the governor to be able to bring leadership and be able to bring people together. I believe – for the fiscal stability of the state – we need more than anything else is certainty. Right now we have mediation, none of us have any idea what the outcome will be, [and it] has generated more than a year of uncertainty. What we should have done is have that full negotiation at the front end so we didn’t have the uncertainty now. As governor I would have made sure that that happened.”
Q: Do you support Binding arbitration for teachers?
Q: Are you pro-choice or pro-life?
Q:Do you support the expansion of charter schools in Rhode Island?
Pell: “I think that we have to look very carefully at charter schools and what charter schools are doing. I think that Rhode Island is such a small state that we have the capacity to do great things and innovation in all the schools of our state.”
Q: Do you support legalizing recreational marijuana?
Pell: “I think we need take a look at what’s happening in Colorado and wait and see what happens in Washington. I don’t support taking any particular action at this point.”
Q: Do you support or oppose tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge?
Pell: “No Tolls. This is a question of fairness for the people who live there and it’s also an example of how we need a statewide approach of how we fun our infrastructure, and how we fund our education. We need to make sure we are not targeting one part of the community and we are developing long-term plans to how we grow.”
Q: Do you support driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants?
“This is a question of public safety. It’s a question of making sure people on the roads, we know who they are and are able to have insurance as we require them by law to have. So, yes I think should drivers in Rhode Island should have a driver’s license.”