My grandmother came to Providence to go to college at the tail end of the 1940s. My grandfather, meanwhile, was born to immigrant parents in South Providence. As soon as they met, my great-grandparents plotted to break them up. He was Jewish, she was Protestant, and that just wasn’t done in those days. They married anyway. Then, she dropped out of school and became pregnant. She was 19.
It wasn’t easy for them. While my grandfather drifted from job to job, my grandmother stayed home to raise a growing nest of boys. But after my father was born, she went back to school and finished her degree. She got a job teaching English as a second language in the Providence Public Schools. Sadly, she died last year. But she still taught English to new immigrants in our city to the very end.
My grandparents were proud to be Americans. They saw a country that created Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. It was a country that fought for the middle class and the poor, not for the wealthiest and most well-connected. From them, I learned that being an American is about caring for our neighbors and fighting for what’s right.
My name is Sam Bell, and I am the State Senator representing you in District 5. My wife, Samantha, and I live in Mount Pleasant on Gray St., just south of Chalkstone. When I’m not in the senate, I’m a geologist, and Samantha works at Hasbro. We’re new homeowners, and new parents to a wonderful son. We want him to be able to bike down decent roads on his way to a good public school. We want him to be able to depend on Medicaid if he needs it. We want him to be safe from gun violence. We want him to live in a city and state that aren’t in a constant state of budget crisis. That’s what I’m fighting for in the State Senate. I want our family and families like yours to live in a state we can be proud of.
My father, Mike, grew up in the Providence Public Schools. My mother’s father came to America as a Holocaust refugee, and he served our country as a diplomat. As a child, my mother, Diane, moved from country to country as my grandfather’s postings changed. My parents are still happily married today.
They raised me to believe everyone deserves an equal shot, no matter who they are or where they came from. They raised me to care, and they taught me to believe this is what our elected officials are supposed to do, long before I had the honor of becoming one myself. But when I saw what our state politicians in Rhode Island were actually doing, I was horrified. I knew I had to fight, and I became an activist.
In 2018 I was elected to the State Senate, making the transition from activist to legislator. I am incredibly thankful to the people of Senate District 5 who have placed their trust in me to make their voices heard on the senate floor.
In my time in the senate, I’ve worked to bring the values I was raised with and the promises you asked of me to the State House. Together, we have changed the Senate, and it wouldn’t have been possible without standing up to the right-wing leadership. Some legislators are afraid to vote no. But I stand for you, not the statehouse bosses, and that means I’m not afraid to vote for what’s right for our community. After years of fighting for a better Senate, the progress is clear. The policy the Senate produces is no longer so aggressively right-wing, but we have much more work to do to solve the many problems in our state.
Samantha and I want all our children to be proud to call themselves Rhode Islanders. We want them to know that their streets are safe, their schools are successful, their health is insured, and more than anything that their lives are valued. That’s what I’m fighting for as your State Senator.
I will always do my best to make time for you. If you’re struggling with state services or you want to share your views on important issues, please do not hesitate to give me a call at 680-0725 or email me at SWBELL11@GMAIL.COM.