Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Response from Rio S. Vitale, Candidate for State Representative, District 80

1.    What do you view as the key role, and/or attributes needed for this position?  What experience/attributes do you have that qualify you for this position? 

As a systems analyst, I have developed the ability to define a problem, break it down into its component parts, and analyze its various aspects in terms of causes and effects. Then, when that is complete, gather alternatives in order to assemble an improved system to solve the problem. As a business analyst, I am able to communicate with all stakeholders in order to reach a solution.

2.    Why do you think you are the best person for this position?  What differentiates you from your opponent(s)?

I am an individual with a strong work ethic and dedicated to my professional life and service to community. As you will find from my past experience, I have been a leader in business, as well as community endeavors. I have worked closely with all levels of management and workers and understand the importance of total team contributions and buy-in to the solution in order to implement a successful plan.

3.    What do you feel are the most pressing issues currently facing this office and what plans do you have to address these issues? (please be specific)

Ultimately this is one high-level issue facing anyone serving in a state legislature: That is to work with fellow legislators for the purpose of creatively creating revenue sources in order to support the challenges that face every state.

For more specific thoughts on more specific issues, please see the answer to question 4 below.

4.    What three issues are your main priorities and how will you guide them?

•    Funding for education: Step one is to absolutely secure accreditation for St. Louis schools.
•    Safety: I feel that the city police force must remain an independent entity.
•    Economic Development: A city’s economic development begins with the establishment of an educated workforce, then providing that workforce with incentives to stay—mostly job opportunities.

5.    How do you plan to address the schism between Republicans and Democrats in Jefferson City?  How will you accomplish things as a member of the minority party?

As a project manager I make things happen by having the courage of being a catalyst in a variety of different situations. I am flexible enough to adapt my skills and knowledge to the situations at hand, and find ways to drive things forward. Setting goals, and listing priorities and the order that they should happen, helps to eliminate confusion and wasted time on projects.

6.    How do you plan to increase available jobs in the area and state? 

The unreliability of economic forecasting, combined with a lack of technical economic expertise among elected officials, contribute to delayed responses to economic conditions. Revenue policies should minimize distortions of business activity, promote economic growth, emphasize stability, predictability, efficiency, and simplicity, and promote intergovernmental cooperation and inclusion. For example, I am a strong supporter behind the effort to make St. Louis a Chinese freight and commercial hub. This would open the door to future agreements with other nations as well as exports from the state.

7.    How do you plan to address the tension between rural and urban areas of the state?

State and local officials are responsible for assuring that local government revenue systems effectively respond to a changing economy in both rural and urban areas. The state legislature is responsible for providing the necessary tools for local governments to collect and manage revenues. To ensure cover cooperation between state and local governments, clear roles and responsibilities should be defined and respected.

8.    What broad-based, stable source of revenue would you recommend to fund quality, public services if both individual and corporate taxes were cut?

A revenue system must be flexible and able to respond quickly to changing economic conditions, and should include mechanisms to monitor, measure, and adjust collections and expenditures as necessary, i.e.:
•    Broaden the sales tax base while lowering the tax rate.
•    Increase efforts to obtain a larger share of federal funds.
•    Examine state property taxes
•    Examine Missouri estate tax
•    Evaluate tax credits

9.    In light of the pending outcome of the Turner v. Clayton case regarding transfer of students from unaccredited school districts to accredited districts, what would you suggest as a solution for maintaining the viability of St. Louis Public Schools?

First, define the problem: St. Louis City Schools are not accredited. Second, set the Goal: Obtain accreditation back for St. Louis City Schools. All planning and decision-making should be based and prioritized on achieving the goal.

Transferring the students DOES NOT achieve this goal!

We need to offer school choice options such as open enrollment, charter school expansion, improved teacher quality through professional development and forms of merit pay that offer incentives to high-quality teachers to serve the city.

10.    How can the legislators from the St. Louis metropolitan area  work together despite party differences to support and protect the interests of the entire area? (please be specific)

As mentioned in the answer to question 5 above relative to resolving differing viewpoints, I have had deep experience in finding a consensus among seemingly opposing groups in order to achieve a final objective by setting common goals, and listing priorities and the order that they should happen.

11.    Do you support or oppose changing the law so utility companies can charge rate payers for construction costs?

I believe that this is a business risk and would oppose the changing of the current law that forbids a utility for charging its customers for a new plant until the plant is producing energy.

12.    Describe how you work with, or will work with, others to address your priorities.

My experience has taught me the importance of sharing a common vision with a team and understanding where team members came from and where they are now.

When team members are aligned with a common team goal, they tend to have more confidence, are internally motivated and are willing to expend extra effort. This increased sense of engagement puts less focus on individual needs and more value on the team as a whole, which is ultimately, what is best for the state.

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