A Redrawn District Changes the Electoral Landscape

Representative District 2: Democratic Primary Chris Blazejewski vs.Dirk Hennessey

East Side Monthly Magazine ·

The race for State Representative District 2 amounts to ideals vs. idealism. First-term incumbent Chris Blazejewski faces serial candidate Dirk Hennessey. The two will square off in the Democratic primary on September 11 and since there are no other candidates, this will determine the election.

The biggest change in the landscape involves the district itself. It was realigned this year and the East Providence section was eliminated and replaced with a part of Upper South Providence and Silver Lake. The East Side/Fox Point section grew by a few streets.

Chris Blazejewski
Incumbent State Representative Chris Blazejewski wears a pedometer, and it’s getting a workout as he walks the district knocking on doors. Blazejewski’s entry into politics came through the progressive community as one of the founders of Drinking Liberally. When David Segal decided to run for Congress, he looked for someone who shared his platform and agenda, and Chris was ready. He has achieved a surprising number of successes for a freshman representative, including the passage of a bill to take the veil off campaigning through Super PACS and legislation that makes “Tip Theft” a misdemeanor for employers who skim some or all of their gratuities.

He has been very active in the relocation of 195 and continues to shepherd the project. He supports the casino initiative and, the city’s $40,000,000 bond (as long as 100 percent of the bond goes to repaving of the streets by need, not politics).

Blazejewski was a sponsor of 81 bills during his first session and has an ambitious agenda. Among them are bills that would allow employees to unionize without secret ballots if 70 percent of the workers sign authorization cards; provide tax credits to incentivize students to stay and work in Rhode Island by helping to pay off their student loans; give businesses greater access to federal dollars for research and innovation; and allow for-profit limited-liability companies to seek investments from charitable organizations, as well as private investors.

Blazejewski is married, lives on William Street and is an attorney.

Dirk Hennessey
Hennessey has run for Providence City Council, State Senator and State Representative because he believes that “no one should be unopposed” and “change in government is a good thing.” This is his third decade of campaigning; he took on Democratic Senate Majority Leader John Bevilacqua several times, once getting almost 40 percent of the vote.

He considers himself a conservative Democrat, who is pro-choice and very concerned about the situation in Providence. He feels that the casino issue should be decided by the people. He supports Mayor Taveras but believes that former Mayor David Cicilline has put the city “in a very, very large hole.”

The other issue that he is emphatic about is not voting for any legislation regarding money until he has read it. “It happens every session. They always ‘suspend the rules’ in the final session and end up adjourning at 3:30am and we all know that nothing good ever happens after midnight.” Hennessey has started walking the district and is finding some early encouragement.

Hennessey lives on Chair Street, which is near Broad and works at Irving Oil in Olneyville.

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