Nicholas A. Mattiello - Rhode Island’s new Speaker of the House - is 50 years old. He lives in Cranston. He is a lawyer, a father, and a motorcycle aficionado with a preference for Harley Davidsons. He was first elected to the Rhode Island House of Representatives in 2006.
He is also, if you believe the many folks we spoke with for this week’s cover story, the most powerful politician in the state.
Earlier this week, he answered a few of our questions via email. Those answers have been presented below in their entirety.
A LOT OF OUR READERS MAY NOT KNOW WHO YOU ARE. IF YOU HAD A FEW MINUTES TO INTRODUCE YOURSELF, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF, POLITICALLY?
DO YOU AGREE THAT THE RI HOUSE SPEAKER IS “THE MOST POWERFUL POLITICIAN IN THE STATE”? WHY OR WHY NOT? HOW DO YOU PLAN TO USE THAT POWER?
HOW WILL YOUR SPEAKER STYLE DIFFER FROM YOUR PREDECESSOR, GORDON FOX?
IT’S SAFE TO SAY RHODE ISLANDERS HAVE VERY LOW CONFIDENCE IN THEIR GOVERNMENT RIGHT NOW, AND THE RAID ON SPEAKER FOX’S OFFICE DIDN’T HELP. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO TO RESTORE THAT TRUST AND FAITH?
DURING THE SEMI-PUBLIC CAMPAIGN FOR SPEAKER, REP. MICHAEL MARCELLO PROMISED HOUSE VOTES WITHIN 30 DAYS ON THREE ISSUES THAT SEEM TO HAVE BROAD SUPPORT AMONG RHODE ISLANDERS: PAYDAY LENDING REFORM, ETHICS REFORM, AND ELIMINATING THE MASTER LEVER. WILL YOU BE BRINGING THOSE BILLS TO A VOTE SOON? WHY OR WHY NOT? SPECIFICALLY, WHAT REASON DO YOU HAVE FOR DELAYING A VOTE ON ETHICS REFORM?
YOU’VE STRESSED THE ECONOMY AS A PRIORITY IN YOUR UPCOMING WORK, AND THAT’S UNDERSTANDABLE. BUT HOW EXACTLY DO YOU FORESEE THE HOUSE IMPROVING THE STATE’S ECONOMY IN THE UPCOMING MONTHS?
THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE CAMPAIGN FOR SPEAKER TOOK PLACE OUTSIDE OF THE PUBLIC EYE, WITH REPORTERS OFTEN STAKED OUT OUTSIDE THE BUILDINGS WHERE MEETINGS TOOK PLACE. GIVEN RI’S POLITICAL REPUTATION, THIS LED TO NO SMALL AMOUNT OF PESSIMISTIC SPECULATION. (FOR EXAMPLE, ROBERT CUSACK OF WHALEROCK POINT PARTNERS TWEETED ON MARCH 23, “SOMEONE SHOULD WRITE A PRIMER ON THE DEAL MAKING BEING DONE ON SPK’R VOTE NOW. PROMISES, ETC. ALL PERS., SELF INTEREST, NOT PUB INT.”) WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU GOT ELECTED AND WHAT HAPPENED IN THOSE CLOSED-DOOR SESSIONS?