PROVIDENCE, R.I.—The four candidates for governor pledged Thursday to appoint more women to government positions if they win on Nov. 2.
Democratic General Treasurer Frank Caprio, independent former U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee, Republican John Robitaille and Moderate Ken Block signed the pledge, which was put together by the Rhode Island Government Appointments Project, a nonpartisan group that is working to increase the number of women in high-level staff and cabinet positions as well as to boards and commissions.
The candidates are vying to replace term-limited Republican Gov. Don Carcieri.
Susan Farmer, a former secretary of state who is also co-chair of the group's steering committee, said just 15 percent of the governor-appointed positions in Rhode Island are held by women. The group was collecting resumes and would forward them to the eventual winner, she said.
"We need women who are qualified and capable and interested to provide us with resumes," she said.
The pledge says the candidates will work to more than double the current 15 percent staffing in their first year in office.
Chafee called the 15 percent number "embarrassing" and said he hoped to exceed the 30 percent goal. He said half his paid staff was women. Block, an entrepreneur, said women made up 80 percent of his paid staff, and nearly half the staff in his private business are women.
"To me, it's a no-brainer to hire women," he said. "Ultimately, you need a balance."
He also pointed out that all the gubernatorial candidates were men and said he hoped to see a woman run soon for the office.
One of Robitaille's five paid campaign staffers is a woman, spokesman Mike Napolitano said. Robitaille was a top aide to Carcieri for about two years before leaving the office earlier this year to run for governor.
Caprio said he wasn't sure what percentage of the top staffers in his treasurer's office were women, but said there were women at high levels in his office. When asked which women he considered his closest advisers, he named his wife, Gabriella, and then two women in the treasurer's office and one on his campaign.