Jen Douglas is a lifelong Rhode Islander and Charlestown resident since 2005. She is the Town Committee Representative of the Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus and a member of the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee.
As a single parent of two teenagers and a full-time healthcare worker, Jen understands the needs of families: good schools, a living wage, access to health care, and strong environmental programs to protect our natural resources.
Because of her own working class struggles and her compassion for fellow community members, Jen saw an urgent need for better representation for her rural district in the RI Senate. When she was unable to find anyone to run against the unpopular incumbent, Jen decided to take on the challenge herself. Jen is running for State Senate in District 34 to improve the lives of Rhode Islanders and in particular to amplify the voices in her community.
Politicians tend to neglect people in rural areas because it’s not as easy to reach them as people in cities and suburbs. As a result, the needs and interests of rural residents often go unheard or ignored. Jen is proud to call herself a “Dirt Road Democrat” because she goes the extra miles to reach out to rural residents to better understand their concerns and interests. As your State Senator, Jen will listen to you and defend your rights and freedoms!
Q & A With Jennifer Douglas
Why is Jen running for office?
I’m running for office because when I look around my district I see that our lives have not improved in any measurable capacity for many years. In my community we’ve become overburdened by taxes that continue to rise without benefiting us. I want to work to bring businesses into our area that will retain our rural character but also lower the tax burden on property owners. I want to preserve our environment by putting a moratorium on clear cutting mature forests for solar farms until we can find a way to properly site alternative energy sources such as brownfields, parking lots, and municipal buildings. I’m here to help and I want to see this entire state thrive. I’m not afraid to take bold action to do it, and refuse to settle for the status quo.
Jen on Rhode Island’s Greatest Political Issues
I believe the greatest issue facing us this election season is the Covid crisis and how we are going to rebound from it. Our response to this crisis must take into account our preparedness for future obstacles as well as our economic recovery. This pandemic has, among many other things, exposed the depth of our social inequity and under appreciation of our essential workers. Increasing the minimum wage to $19 an hour will ensure a decent baseline standard for working people, while stimulating our economy through increased patronization of local businesses. We also have to take a deeper look at how we care for our most vulnerable populations. Increasing Medicaid funding, uncoupling health insurance from employment, and promoting safe staffing for nursing homes needs to be a priority. The Covid crisis has shown clearly that even the best employer-provided insurance means very little once the mass layoffs begin. Avoiding medical care for fear of taking on a crippling financial burden creates an unhealthy society in the best of times. During this global pandemic, however, it is a recipe for certain disaster.
Jen on Improving Rhode Island’s Economy
Starting the minimum wage at $19 an hour will help bolster the economy by increasing the amount of spending here in our state. Implementing a Green New Deal will bring good paying jobs to Rhode Island and relieve our housing crisis by building affordable green housing. Smart and unobtrusive investments in solar, wind, and tidal energy will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. This will improve energy costs while also protecting our fishing and tourist industries, both of which face great threats from ocean warming and rising sea levels.
Jen on the Challenges Faced by Rhode Island
When I listen to my neighbors and friends, I am told time and time again about the great challenges faced by the people of our beautiful state. I’ve found people working several jobs to avoid making a painful choice of either putting food on the table or paying their rent. They work hard for their families and want one good paying job so they can save for their children’s future and have more time with their loved ones. The ever increasing cost of healthcare is an enormous financial burden and reduces spending within our state, further stalling our economy. We need to start legislating with compassion, and it’s imperative that we work tirelessly to find ways to provide the hard working families and members of our communities with good steady employment and a dignified standard of living.
What inspires Jen?
My family. They’re just simply wonderful, supportive, and incredible people. My father is a first generation Italian American who served our country in the Air Force. He worked hard his entire life to give our family every advantage possible. My mother’s grandparents hid a Japanese family in their home during WWII to save them from an internment camp while my grandfather was a medic overseas in Germany during the war. My mother fought for civil rights with the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee and was a vocal anti war activist during Vietnam.
I was born into activism. My parents and grandparents instilled in me a deep commitment to justice and advocacy for others. I hope to use that commitment to better the lives of everyone around me.