Rhode Island’s statewide primary saw a number of competitive races up and down the ballot. In House District 9, RIC Alumnus Enrique Sanchez ‘19 won a tough primary versus State Representative Anastasia Williams.
“It was nerve-racking. It was intense. I was very very nervous [and] anxious to see the results. I knew we had put in the work for a long time since last year when we announced our campaign for the seat,” Sanchez described the feeling after finding out he won.
“And we have been working hard, knocking on doors, making phone calls, talking to people – listening to folks every single day. If it was only two hours, three hours or six, seven, eight hours a day – every day we were knocking doors. So we felt [confident], but we just wanted to make sure that we had secured the winning number [of votes] that we were trying to accomplish to win. And I’m glad that we delivered”
Williams was first elected to the seat in 1992 – being state representative for almost 30 years. And she’s had competitive primaries before, which made this one a nail biter for both candidates. Both campaigns used different strategies too. Sanchez, as a first-time candidate, knocked on doors for the bulk of his campaign. Williams, who was the incumbent, relied on mailers to get across her message to voters. “It came down to having to do the right thing, and doing it the right way – which meant talking to voters, listening to voters [and] introducing myself,” Sanchez said. “If I had gone to a house, and I had spoken only to the mom, or the sister, or the brother – I made sure to come back and speak to also the father, and the grandson and everyone else in the household who I hadn’t reached.”
Facing an incumbent also comes with its challenges. Sanchez described factors such as money and resources as some challenges, but explains that his volunteers and grassroots support made up for that difference.
One of the priorities he’ll have as a state legislator is to repeal the 2006 tax cuts that benefited wealthy Rhode Islanders. If those cuts were to be reversed, Sanchez wants to see that revenue go to infrastructure, healthcare, housing and education, as another top issue he’s passionate about is fixing the state’s education funding formula.
He said, “It’s unacceptable that those tax cuts were specifically benefitting our wealthiest Rhode Islanders – those making over $400,000 a year. Those tax revenues decreased from eight percent to six percent. That’s a lot of money in 16 years that could have been invested into our infrastructure, into our education system, and to help our healthcare system and into housing.”
Currently, there are no term limits in the General Assembly, hence why his opponent was elected to 15 terms before this year. Sanchez said, “Absolutely. Without question.” when asked if he would support legislation for term limits.
Sanchez is also a proud RIC Alumnus, graduating in 2019.
He said, “I actually, during my time at RIC in 2017 [and] 2018, I started getting more involved with local and Rhode Island politics. It was a good experience. I went in, got my degree. I made some friends, made connections. I recommend Rhode Island College.”
Sanchez also emphasized the need to both increase funding for public universities such as RIC and address the declining enrollment.
“Rhode Island College is our state college, we need to take care of it. We need to take care of our state colleges, our universities, our community colleges,” he added.