Jeann Lugo’s top priorities if elected Lt. Governor: education, small businesses and social services
Providence police officer Jeann Lugo is one of two declared Republicans running for Lieutenant Governor this year. In a recent episode of Ray-ality TV, Lugo spoke on a variety of topics including why he’s running for the office.
“I’m running because in recent years I’ve seen the state change for the worse. I’ve seen a lot more violence, depression with our kids, the test scores [are] decreasing, mental health – there’s drugs on our street[s]. We had our economy just completely get tanked with COVID. The small businesses got destroyed. We have a population decline. I just don’t think that is the direction that I want this state to go to. We almost hit record murders last year,” said Lugo. “I have a lot of experience with this state when it comes to DCYF, when it comes to foster care, when it comes to social services, mental health, police. I believe that I have a unique perspective when it comes to these issues. And I believe that I could help the state correct itself.”
There are three main issues that Lugo plans to focus on in his campaign: education, small businesses and social services. Part of his proposals for educational reform consists of ideas like school choice.
“I believe that school choice is very important. Especially the way now it is, there is a lot of divisiveness. I want to take politics out of schools to begin with. One of the [challenges] that parents have right now is that they’re stuck and forced to pick [from] three choices,” says Lugo. “They're keeping their kids in underperforming schools that can close at any time and it puts a lot of pressure on the parent[s]. The other choice that these parents have right now is homeschooling. Sometimes it’s very hard for parents to get the money for the books. The last option right now that people have is private schools. And quite frankly for low-income people, they don’t have the money for private schools. We need to give parents an educational path that benefits the child and the family.”
Other parts of Lugo’s vision for education includes charter schools, improving school infrastructure and reforming the curriculum. Both nationally and locally, the material in school curriculums is a hot-button issue for parents. For instance, Republicans are campaigning against the teaching of Critical Race Theory in K-12 schools. Lugo is against the teaching of CRT in K-12 schools.
He said, “My take on the Critical Race Theory is that it paints a picture of caucasians, whites as a negative thing. I don’t like the idea of any race or anybody to be seen as bad or good. I believe that we fought this – specifically Martin Luther King. He made it very clear: everyone [should] be treated equally. He wants to be judged by the character, not by the color of the skin. And I wholeheartedly believe [in] that.”
There are more calls for the Lieutenant Governor and Governor to run on the same ticket. This is similar to how it’s done in neighboring states like Massachusetts and Connecticut. Lugo supports the idea of both offices running together.
The office itself has limited responsibilities. Most of the work the officeholder does revolves around advocacy and then working with the Governor to deliver on that vision. A signature issue the last two Lieutenant Governors prioritized was helping out the state’s small businesses. Lugo wants to take that a step further.
“I want to be able to talk to these cities, towns, whatever the case may be and really find out why the taxes are so much. Right now, Rhode Island is very tough on taxes. We are ranked I think it’s the 42nd in the [country for] high taxes for small businesses. I think we need to change that. One of the things that we could also help small businesses in is to clean up and simplify the licensing that we do. And the certification for blue-collar workers,” says Lugo.
Other topics Lugo and I spoke about were housing, creating an Inspector General’s office and what he thinks Rhode Island’s best characteristics are.