Manfred "Fred" Diel says: “It’s all about the economy. If you fix it, all of the other things will come around.”
And the Barrington resident believes that the turn-around will start by bringing manufacturing jobs back to Rhode Island.
“Then the manufacturers will hire full-time employees, which automatically brings in tax revenue with payroll taxes and decreases the state’s unemployment rate,” he said.
Diel, a Republican, is running for the District 66 seat in the state House, which represents parts of Barrington and Riverside. He will officially kick off his campaign for the seat held right now by Joy Hearn of Barrington on Monday, May 14. He has scheduled a 5 pm kickoff event at Billy’s restaurant on Maple Avenue.
“It is time for a new beginning,” said Diel, a sales representative for Chem Aqua and a veteran of 24 years in the Navy before that. “Why vote for me? I live by the motto: Honor, Courage and Commitment.”
People need to elect candidates who have those virtues, said Diel, who describes himself as a fiscal and social conservative, a “constitutionalist” and a Ronald Reagan Republican. He said he has no problem wearing the uniform for campaign photos because he embodies the “military ideal.”
First and foremost, though, Diel said, he wants to push a “manufacturing jobs plan” based on giving tax benefits to new and old manufacturers who hire more full-time workers – employers who “maintain employment.” He said you can find his jobs plan on his website: www.freddiel.com.
Another of issues that the Democratic-controlled General Assembly has created, he said, is the “budgetary choking” of local governments with “unfunded mandates.”
“It is time to have sunset clauses on these laws, which require mandates on local governments,” he said. “And I will work with my fellow elected officials to make this happen.”
Can he do this as a member of the tiny minority of Republicans in the General Assembly?
“We can do it one seat at a time,” he said. “We can go back to a two-party system.”
Diel also asked: “Are we better off than we were 10 years ago?” under the control of the Democratic General Assembly. He believes most voters will answer “no.”
Diel addresses that question, in particular, to independent voters – voters he believes are conservative in their beliefs.
He also describes himself as “a strong-willed, opinionated family man and a stand-up guy” who will carry many of his personal views into the General Assembly.
“You see what you'll get with me,” he said. “It is time for The Real Diel” -- his campaign slogan.
The interests of children will also be one of his prime concerns in the state House, he said.
“Children are the most important part of our future,” he said. “They’re innocent. We need to protect them because they can’t protect themselves. Our responsibility as Americans is taking care of our children.”
Diel and his wife, Kimberly, have two children of their own -- an 18-year-old son, Michael, who was adoped from Romania, and a 9-year-old “surprise/miracle” daughter, Katrina, who attends St. Luke’s School in Barrington.
He and his wife returned to Barrington about 2½ years ago from Coventry, where they lived for 6 years, after spending 12 years before that in the Bay Spring neighborhood in Barrington.
Diel was born in New York, but grew up in a small town in northeast Pennsylvania, where his first jobs were milking cows, bailing hay and cleaning barns. He joined the Navy in 1983, which brought him to Newport. He retired as a Chief Petty Officer in the fall of 2007.