We sat down to chat with Young Republican Senate District 27 candidate, Jon Keith, to see what he has been up to heading into the 2018 election season.
First thing’s first; who are you and what are you running for in 2018?
My name is Jonathan Keith and I am running for State Senate District 27 Cranston, West Warwick.
Why did you decide to run for Senate over, say, city council or school committee?
I believe that the Senate should be representing the needs of the city at the State House, and as a statesman, I want to see the state government push back on its federal dependency for revenue. I am sure I would have been able to serve the constituency well at the city level, but my personal passion is at the state level.
You lost by a relatively small margin in 2016; is that all that has made you consider running again? What else drives you as a candidate?
I am extremely motivated to run again because of how well I did in the last election with little to no name recognition against an 18 year, union-backed, bought, and paid for incumbent. However, the majority of my drive comes from wanting my children (Jayden, 6 & Hayley, 3) to have the opportunity and ability to stay in Rhode Island and raise their families, as my wife Stephanie and I have been able to. Growing up in the late 80s and early 90s, I am barely able to remember the last time that Rhode Island’s economy was showing real growth and stability. It was still expensive to live here in relation to other areas, but the wages and available jobs allowed people to afford it much more comfortably than today
I see the progressive agenda (tax and spend) only making it harder and harder for that to be a possibility. I have spent time with the progressives this summer going to their training classes and group meetings. Their view of our government and its role in our daily lives is that it should be everyone’s concern. I truly believe that if the masses really understood the changes that would occur if the progressives had their way, they would put a stop to it immediately. The more left-Marxists are elected to office, we will see incumbent Democrats further pulled in that direction. That couldn’t have been more evident the last session with the atrocious laws that were passed restricting our freedoms and rights of individuality.
What are your three pieces you are running?
I am running to cut our sales tax from 7-8% down to 3%. There have been extensive studies that show this would result in the largest increase in jobs within our state for the least amount of money. Many think that this is great to pitch, but how would someone go about doing this without cutting the benefits that our most vulnerable need. I believe that we need to decrease this dependency on our government and we can cut the sales tax without affecting the social benefits currently in place. One of the biggest expenses that comes to mind is the convention center. Not only would it produce taxes if turned into a private building, but it would stop the state from losing $30 million dollars a year to keep it open. To further expand on my first issue, I also believe that the first catalyst of our economic issues within Rhode Island is the fact that we have a budget that rolls over with automatic increases every year. Rather than re-evaluate our programs, we just start the next fiscal year off with a structural deficit. This is the reason why we are $60 million dollars off budget this year and have projected to be $200 million dollars off next year. If we implement a Zero Based Budget, every program would have to start on its own merits and be voted on individually. This would not only force people on record for what they stand behind, but it would also allow us to examine every program at the fullest and cut wasteful and non-productive programs that do not return in benefits what it costs the taxpayers. The last issue rounds out the entire problem that has brought us to be where we are: we have elected officials in office for 20-40 years. They not only have become set in their ways, but they have been able to build up massive war chests. The amount of money they have in their coffers scares off potential, very capable, candidates because they feel it is a lost cause. This allows them to run unopposed and only further build their account. My opponent spent over $31K and left her account at the end of the year with $27K still in it. I only spent $8K on my run and was able to acquire over 44% of the votes. This is why I believe that term limits are necessary at state level offices, and would like to see term lengths change as well so that legislators can focus on legislating and not just continuing their campaign for re-election.
What are some blunders your opponent has had in the last five years, and how will you address them when elected?
I sat down the day after the election and thought about why I was 6% below what I needed to win, and I identified three key things that I didn’t do and may have had a very positive impact if I had. I needed to walk with other candidates in areas that I knew I was not going to have strong support. I also did not have enough money or time to visit the senior centers. I have already taken steps to correct this by scheduling a Christmas trip with the seniors. I am teaming up with others that are running for election/re-election in order to reduce the cost burden and benefit others that are running in 2018. The last issue that I identified was that I did not get my opponent on the debate stage. I had challenged her towards the end of the campaign in a press release but the media outlets did not pick up the piece I wrote. I also spent a lot of time compiling the voting data from every precinct within my district to see where I need to focus the most time in the next election cycle. This should allow my campaign to focus on these areas with more effort and reach out to as many voters as possible.
For more information on Jon Keith’s senate run, visit www.jonkeithsenateri.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.