Republican Ken Mendonça won the seat vacated by outgoing Republican Representative Dan Reilly in November, defeating Democratic Candidate Linda Finn by 183 votes. Mendonca has lived in District 72, which includes the towns of Portsmouth and Middletown, for the past 19 years. He works as a program manager in information technology for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport. As a candidate, Mendonça focused on a lack of transparency in state government relating to the 38 Studios scandal. He would like to see Governor Gina Raimondo order the release of police evidence from their investigation of 38 Studios, which cost Rhode Island taxpayers millions of dollars.
In addition to transparency, Mendonça wants to focus on what he sees as policies for economic growth. He plans to advocate for lower taxes on retirement income, lower utility costs, and a lower cost of living to keep talent in the state, especially young people. He also wants to see the tax burden on small business in Rhode Island lowered so that they can hire more employees. Mendonça hopes that these actions provide enough of a boost to the economy to increase state revenues and jobs. He also has a new idea to create in-state collegiate business programs to develop a “business plan” for the state rooted in empirical evidence, and then use those plans to dictate how to spend the excess budget revenue.
Finally, Mendonça plans to support education. He wants to ensure that there are enough Rhode Islanders with STEM training to work for the Department of Defense, specifically in trade industries that will be needed to build submarine hulls in the state.