Fresh off her lopsided victory in the Oct. 8 mayoral primary, state Rep. Lisa Baldelli-Hunt [D-Dist. 49] accused incumbent Mayor Leo Fontaine with taking a "tax first, cut later" approach to the city's recent fiscal crisis.
Interviewed at One Social Street shortly after the elation of the night's results, Baldelli-Hunt also sought to pin responsibility on Fontaine and Council President John Ward for missing the school budget problems that Fontaine and Ward blame for the current situation.
"You have a responsibility, as those leaders, to pay
attention to what’s happening at that school department. That did not happen," Baldelli-Hunt explained. "Do I believe that this crisis was caused strictly by the
school committee, the school department? Absolutely not, I do not believe that."
Baldelli-Hunt also contrasted her view of Fontaine's decisions with Mayor Angel Taveras of Providence.
The first thing the [Fontaine] administration was doing was tax first, cut later," Baldelli-Hunt said, while Taveras "stepped into a massive deficit [but] does not have a budget commission... that is strong leadership."
Baldelli-Hunt's primary campaign tapped into voter anger over the budget commission and the tax increases that followed, and in the recent interview, she charged that Fontaine had not been cooperative with the city's General Assembly delegation prior to the crisis.
When asked if she feels Fontaine and his administration could have avoided the commission by dealing with the local issue earlier, she replied: "That's right. The state does not want to get involved in municipal affairs. We rely on
the leaders of municipalities to be leaders, and to be able to make decisions
— and sometimes those decisions are not easy decisions, and in this
particular case, that strong leadership was not there."
A complete transcript of the interview is posted at the link below.