Former legislator Lisa Tomasso is running for the House seat she once held representing parts of Coventry and West Warwick against Republican incumbent Sherrie Roberts, Tomasso announced in a news release today.
“Civic involvement is in my blood and I look forward to this opportunity to represent the people of Coventry and West Greenwich at the State House,” Tomasso said in the news release. “I ’ve always felt a call to be active in my community, from serving on the Coventry School Committee to my current job battling the addiction crisis in Rhode Island. I believe that so much good can be accomplished for the people of Rhode Island, and I’m eager to get to work doing just that.”
Tomasso is one of several liberal-leaning former legislators who are running against Republicans who knocked them from office two years ago. Others include Larry Valencia, Catherine Cool Rumsey and Linda Finn (whose Republican counterpart has already decided against running for reelection).
In 2014, Roberts narrowly beat Tomasso by 247 votes, 2,805 people voted for Roberts and 2,558 voted for Tomasso. Tomasso was a legislator since 2010, when first won the House seat previously held by Ray Sullivan, now an organizer for NEA-RI.
Tomasso said in her release that public education is a high priority for her.
“As a mother, our educational system has always been of great importance to me,” she said. “Finding the best ways to educate our children, along with encouraging and nurturing their development and skills, is a tremendous responsibility and should always be of paramount importance to the state.”
Below is Tomasso’s full press release.
Building on a lifetime of civic engagement and as an enthusiastic supporter of parental involvement in our schools, Lisa Tomasso today declared her candidacy for state representative as a Democrat in District 29, which includes portions of Coventry and West Greenwich.
Tomasso, a resident of Coventry, laid out her platform of improving the economic and regulatory climate for small business, supporting education, keeping a lid on taxes and championing efforts aimed at substance abuse recovery.
“I’ve always felt a call to be active in my community, from serving on the Coventry School Committee to my current job battling the addiction crisis in Rhode Island,” said Tomasso. “Civic involvement is in my blood and I look forward to this opportunity to represent the people of Coventry and West Greenwich at the State House. I believe that so much good can be accomplished for the people of Rhode Island, and I’m eager to get to work doing just that.”
After her time on the school committee, Tomasso represented the people of District 29 in the House of Representatives, where she continued advocating for a strong educational system as a member of the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare. Meeting often with students and educators, she helped develop an anti-bullying program in the state educational system and served on a panel to assess the implementation of a better statewide curriculum.
She was invited by the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education to serve on its Ambassador Design Team to develop and write the strategic plan for elementary and secondary education in Rhode Island. The Rhode Island Library Association also named her as Representative of the Year for going above and beyond in support of the state’s libraries.
“As a mother, our educational system has always been of great importance to me,” said Tomasso, who earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Rhode Island. “Finding the best ways to educate our children, along with encouraging and nurturing their development and skills, is a tremendous responsibility and should always be of paramount importance to the state.”
Tomasso has brought her civic-mindedness into the classroom, encouraging students to become active in their communities and learn about lawmaking. She recently taught a group of children at Washington Oak Elementary School, explaining to the how a simple idea can be transformed into law, simply by taking part in the democratic process.
Tomasso has also advocated to preserve open space and the region’s many lakes. She worked extensively with Save The Lakes, a statewide coalition focused on preserving Rhode Island’s freshwater lakes like Lake Mishnock, and advocated for the passage of legislation to protect against aquatic invasive species and to address water quality issues.
Tomasso is also a big believer in reforming the red tape that often suffocate the creation and development of Rhode Island’s small businesses. Tomasso said she found it encouraging that the state has taken efforts to make things easier for small businesses, such as reducing the minimum corporate tax and overhauling unemployment insurance, but said the state still has a long way to go.
“Ultimately, I’d like to see the minimum corporate tax disappear entirely,” she said. “I’d also like to see the state ease the regulatory burden on small business. We’ve made steps in the right direction, with measures such as ending the fuel tax, but we need to build on that taking away more and more of that burden every year.”
Tomasso, who also served on the House Oversight Committee, was particularly concerned about the delay most Rhode Islanders experienced in receiving this year’s tax refunds.
“That delay was totally unacceptable,” said Tomasso. “I know people who had to wait months for refunds — which is money that belongs to them. I will make it a priority to keep an eye on the Division of Taxation to ensure that agency does whatever it can to rectify the situation before next tax season.”
A longtime advocate of strong ethics reform, Tomasso was thrilled to see the General Assembly pass legislation that will put a question on November’s ballot to amend the state constitution, giving the Ethics Commission full jurisdiction over state legislators.
“I will be so happy to step into the voting booth on Nov. 8 to vote yes on ethics reform, and I urge everyone else to do the same,” said Tomasso. “I look forward to returning to the General Assembly with the encouragement that a third party is overseeing all the actions of state legislators.”
Tomasso works as the community relations manager for The Providence Center, an organization that specializes in intervention, treatment and recovery in behavioral health.
“My time spent working for The Providence Center has truly shaped the way I feel about addiction and recovery,” said Tomasso. “For too long we have thought of addiction as someone else’s problem, a lifestyle choice or a result of bad parenting. Addiction is everyone’s business and while there are social determinants that place certain individuals at higher risk than others, addiction is not a choice. Addiction is a disease and recovery is possible.”
As an advocate for recovery, Tomasso has received the community service award from the Rhode Island Council on Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependence.
Tomasso will officially kick off her campaign on Sunday, July 10, from 1 to 5 p.m. at her new campaign headquarters at 1193 Tiogue Ave. near the intersection of Reservoir Road. The public is invited to tour the space and meet with Lisa Tomasso. Refreshments will be provided.