With 18 new members in the 113-seat General Assembly, On Politics is offering a periodic look at the latest additions to the House and Senate. We continue with Representative Robert Nardolillo (R-Coventry), who, in his first run for public office, ousted former Representative Scott Guthrie (D-Coventry) last November.
Occupation: Funeral home director in a fourth-generation family business, Nardolillo Funeral Home, established in 1906.
Favorite Food: Being Italian, I would probably lean more toward a ravioli.
Favorite TV Show: The Walking Dead; "No pun intended with the funeral service aspect of my day-to-day activities, but I very much enjoy the show."
Why did you run to be a state rep? I decided to run for the House of Representatives because I felt like we were lacking in public service. I felt that's my strong suit -- my occupation is funeral service -- and this was just an extension of that. I very much love where I live, and I felt it was time, it was time for someone to stand up for public service and weed out the politics. The way I look at a community is, it's multi-faceted in terms of their issues and concerns. I felt that the current representation, that is, my opponent at the time, was kind of more or less one-dimensional. So [constituents] weren't being fully served in terms of their issues and concerns -- and that's public service. To me, being a representative means you need to identify the concerns and issues, and be able to sit and listen. We're not here to solve all problems. But we're here to concentrate on the issues and concerns, and be able to sit down with the constituents and be able to listen, show you care. It's very important. That's the largest part of being a representative, is listening. God gave us two ears and one mouth.
Which living political figure do you most admire and why? I would probably say I admire Mitt Romney. I don't see eye to eye with everything, but as a generalization of his success in business, strong business individual -- as I am a business individual -- father -- as I am -- but he is very much connected with his faith, and I feel a lot of his leadership in terms of his legislation and time spent governing had a lot of faith-based direction, and that's the way I am -- I'm a Christian -- so I feel like I lean on my faith, and I connect very much with that.
What are your top goals for this session? I'm in small business, and I feel as if the economy and jobs are a concentration from everybody on their agenda at this time .... I'm very much concentrating on community awareness in terms of making communities safer. I'm trying to look at current legislation and potential legislation that protects families, children, elderly, and revisiting those, because if we do bring in new jobs, these new employees have to live in the communities, and we want to make sure that they are safe. Small business legislation is always on the top [as a priority], but in terms of that for bringing in new jobs, we want safe communities, too, for them to live in.
The best thing about RI is _____? Of course, when you're going back to Italian and always thinking about my appetite, I would probably say our various restaurants throughout the state -- award-winning meals and everybody enjoys spending time out.
The worst thing about RI is _____? We are a tourism draw and it saddens me to see that we're only a tourism draw during the summer .... It would be wonderful to be able to reconnect with our summer tourists and give them something to come here during the winter time.
Fun Fact: As someone who moved to the Greene section of Coventry eight years ago, Nardolillo says he had his work cut out in trying to defeat an incumbent state representative. With some voters upset by fire district issues, the Republican says he responded by knocking on more than 4,600 doors during his campaign. "The two things are support and respect," Nardolillo said, "and I knew I wasn't going to get 100 percent of the support, but I always wanted 100 percent of the respect. I wanted them to know even though we didn't agree on something, that I did take the time to listen."