Providence Journal: Dream shattered, he persevered, found another

By Mark Patinkin
Journal Columnist
Jim was one of those kids who always knew what he wanted to be — first a policeman and eventually an FBI agent.

He grew up middle class in Warwick with a dad who ran a hardware store and a mom who was a career counselor.

Jim was so sure he wanted to be a cop he began interning for the Warwick police at age 12. He was still doing it four years later the summer of his 16th year, clerking, answering phones and running errands. He was the kind of earnest cadet who ironed his uniform himself before each shift.

On this particular Friday, he did the same, heading to the station locker room and suiting up.

Two officers were nearby looking at a new .45-caliber semiautomatic. One officer ejected the clip and handed the gun to the other, who didn’t realize a bullet was still in the chamber. He aimed what he thought was an empty gun at a locker and pulled the trigger.

The bullet ricocheted, piercing Jim’s neck and severing his spinal cord.

The officers kept Jim breathing until a rescue arrived a minute later from the fire station across the street. By then, Jim was unconscious and his blue cadet uniform stained red as he lay on the white tile floor.

They took Jim to the Kent Country Hospital ER. Days later, by the time they eased the sedation, he was in the spinal cord unit of the University Hospital in Boston, his head pulled taut by weights drilled into his skull beneath his blond hair.

The doctors chose not to tell Jim of the severity of his injury at first. But after two weeks, Jim was able to speak, and began to ask, so they were honest. Not long after, his mother June came into his room.

“Ma,” said Jim, “they’re telling me I won’t have use of my hands or legs.”

All she could say was, “I know, Jim.” She gave his hand a squeeze and realized he was unable to squeeze back.

Jim was a sophomore at Bishop Hendricken when the accident happened. The administrators told his parents he could — and should — repeat the grade next year. But Jim’s mom and dad worried that falling behind would be one more loss for him, so they said they’d get tutors.

The administrators said it wasn’t a good idea. But the parents wouldn’t yield — Jim would finish his sophomore year. It was their way of teaching their son his paralysis did not have to limit him.

Back home, in his motorized wheelchair, Jim learned to type by wedging a pencil between his fingers and hitting the keys that way. But it was arduous so he would sometimes ask his mother to type his school papers.

She would tell him she was sorry, but with three other kids, including a baby, and dinner to cook, she didn’t have time.

“Why won’t you help me, Mom?” he’d say.

“I’m sorry, Jim.”

Then she would go into a room where Jim couldn’t see her crying, her heart broken, but she knew it was the only way to teach him perseverance.

Jim had to let go of his dream of becoming a police officer but he resolved to find a way to be a public servant.

At age 24, he was elected to the Rhode Island House of Representatives. At age 30, he became Secretary of State.

And last week, 36 years after his accident, at age 52, with eight terms as the only quadriplegic U.S. congressman in history, Jim Langevin announced he would run again in hopes of continuing his journey of perseverance.

Providence Journal: Rep. Langevin announces reelection bid

By Paul Edward Parker
Journal Staff Writer

 

U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin declared his candidacy for reelection to Congress Tuesday morning, handing in papers at the secretary of state’s elections office.

“I love Rhode Island, and I feel passionate about public service,” Langevin said while chatting with reporters as his paperwork was processed. “There’s a lot of frustrations that go along with the job, certainly in this environment where it’s been so partisan. But I’m proud of the bipartisan record I have demonstrated.”

Langevin said the issues he will campaign on are familiar to those who have followed his career: career and technical education, cybersecurity and national security, especially the construction of Virginia-class submarines, which are built in Quonset Point and in Groton, Connecticut, by General Dynamics Electric Boat. “These are the things that I continue to focus on,” he said, adding that he also hopes to gain ground on campaign-finance reform and gun safety.

Langevin said he anticipated debates as part of the race. “I always make a point to debate my opponents,” he said. “I’ve always made a practice of making myself accessible to discuss the issues.”

The secretary of state’s office said that at least two opponents have begun the process of getting on the ballot: Democrat Steven Archer and independent Salvatore G. Caiozzo. Also, Republican Rhue Reis said on June 9 that he would challenge Langevin.

Langevin was elected to Congress in 2000, when Rep. Robert Weygand ran for the U.S. Senate. Langevin previously was a state representative and secretary of state. He represents Rhode Island’s Second Congressional District, which generally covers the state west of Narragansett Bay, except for parts of Providence and several communities in or near the Blackstone Valley.

Not long after Langevin declared his candidacy Tuesday morning, the Coventry Democratic Town Committee announced that it had endorsed Langevin at its meeting Monday night.

Several weeks ago, the state Democratic Party endorsed Langevin at its state convention.

“I haven’t lost my passion for public service,” Langevin told reporters Tuesday. “I got into this years ago … to give back and show my appreciation for the people of Rhode Island.”

Langevin to Officially Declare Candidacy for Congress

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Jim Langevin will officially launch his reelection campaign for Congress on Tuesday morning. Langevin, who is pursuing a ninth term to represent Rhode Island’s Second Congressional District, will file his Declaration of Candidacy at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Rhode Island Secretary of State Elections Division in Providence.

Langevin started his career in public service in 1986 when he was elected to the state’s Constitutional Convention. He later served as a Warwick State Representative and was then elected Secretary of State. Langevin was elected to the United States Congress in 2000, and currently serves as a senior member of both the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees.

In the 2016 election, Langevin has already received endorsements from the Rhode Island Democratic Party State Committee, the Rhode Island Association of Democratic City and Town Chairs, Democratic Town Committees in Burrillville, Johnston, and East Greenwich, and from the AFL-CIO.

Coventry Democratic Town Committee Endorses Langevin for Congress

The Coventry Democratic Town Committee endorsed Jim Langevin Monday night in his reelection bid to represent the Second District in the United States Congress.

“Coventry has a friend in Jim Langevin. Jim is always there for us when we need him, and keeps us engaged and informed on the issues he is working on in Washington,” said Committee Chairman Rick Kalunian. “Jim and his staff are so accessible when we have questions or someone in Coventry needs help with a constituent issue and that commitment really means a lot to our community.”

Langevin started his career in public service in 1986 when he was elected to the state’s Constitutional Convention. He later served as a Warwick State Representative and was then elected Secretary of State. Langevin was elected to the United States Congress in 2000, and currently serves as a senior member of both the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees.

“I’m so grateful to Chairman Kalunian and the entire Town Committee for their support. This endorsement comes at a perfect time, building enthusiasm for my campaign on the eve of my official announcement,” said Langevin. “I will file my Declaration of Candidacy papers tomorrow morning, and I feel more passionate than ever about continuing my work, fighting for the people of Coventry and all of Rhode Island.”

In the 2016 election, Langevin has already received endorsements from the Rhode Island Democratic Party State Committee, the Rhode Island Association of Democratic City and Town Chairs, Democratic Town Committees in Burrillville, Johnston, and East Greenwich, and from the AFL-CIO.

RI Association of City and Town Chairs Endorses Jim Langevin

The Rhode Island Association of City and Town Chairs endorsed Jim Langevin this evening in his reelection bid to represent the Second District in the United States Congress.

“Jim Langevin is one of the most accessible and responsive leaders I know. He is plugged in to all of the communities he represents, and is eager to reach out and learn more about the challenges and opportunities we face at the local level,” said Association President Mike Burk. “It is great to know we can count on Jim for advice, support, and assistance, which in turn helps us to better serve our own constituents. Jim is always there for us, and we are proud to return the support as he runs for reelection.”

Langevin started his career in public service in 1986 when he was elected to the state’s Constitutional Convention. He later served as a Warwick State Representative and was then elected Secretary of State. Langevin was elected to the United States Congress in 2000, and currently serves as a senior member of both the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees.

“Representing every corner of the state, the Association of City and Town Chairs is made up of community leaders who make up the foundation of our great state. They work hard, day in and day out, to improve quality of life and serve constituents in every city and town, and their endorsement is invaluable to me,” said Langevin. “Thank you to President Burk and the entire Association for your support, and I look forward to working with your entire membership to move Rhode Island forward.”

In the 2016 election, Langevin has also received endorsements from the Democratic Town Committees in Burrillville, Johnston, and East Greenwich, and from the AFL-CIO.

Spring Ahead to Fall

Spring has just begun, but I already have my mind on the fall.

The election is fast approaching, and I’m more enthusiastic than ever about reapplying for a job that I love. Because that’s what an election is: a job interview. Every two years, my constituents have the opportunity to evaluate the work that I am doing on their behalf, and decide whether or not I’ve earned the distinction of continuing to represent them in Congress.

So as you embark on your due diligence, researching the most qualified candidate, I would like to share some of the highlights from my resume.

Keeping the American people safe and protecting our way of life is a priority that I know we all agree upon. “Safety first,” as they say, and so it is with my work in Congress. I am a senior member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, assignments that position me to advocate for what is best when it comes to national security at home and abroad. Supporting the men and women who serve our nation is a big piece of the national security puzzle, because we cannot defend our nation without a well-trained and cared for military. We also cannot sufficiently staff our armed forces if we do not keep our promise to support our veterans once they return home.

When we look at modern conflict, it is undeniable that cyber warfare is a real concern now and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

Cybersecurity is also an issue of economic security and competitiveness for our nation. This is why I have dedicated so much of my time in Congress to this important issue. I co-founded and continue to co-chair the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus and I am a national leader on this issue. I have been calling attention to the need for robust cyber defenses for nearly a decade, and I’m so proud that this work is paying off. More and more of my colleagues in Congress and across government have heeded my warnings, and momentum continues to build as I push for action on this critical cause.

Cybersecurity is a challenge that is not going away, and that poses an incredible opportunity for our workforce. Cybersecurity is an industry with tremendous growth potential, and I have advocated strongly for education and training programs that will ensure we have the right workforce to meet the growing demand. Bridging the gap between the classroom and the workplace is a priority for me across industry, as I co-chair the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus. I’ve introduced legislation that would better connect school counselors with the business community, so that students are making informed decisions about college or careers, based on current and future economic trends.

On top of these legislative priorities, I continue to be an advocate for people with disabilities, for a stronger middle class, and for equality and human rights for all. I share my positions constantly through social media, my website, and at public forums like my Lunch with Langevin program, and I will never stop working to be accessible and transparent to all of my constituents. My door is always open.

This is just a sampling of the issues I care deeply about. My concerns and my hopes for the future are as varied as the people I represent, and if you ever have a question about where I fall on a given issue, please do not hesitate to reach out. That’s what I’m here for.

Friend, the time to elect your representative in Congress will be here before you know it, so as you consider your options, I humbly ask for your support and your vote.

 

Sincerely,

Jim Langevin
Member of Congress

Johnston Democratic Town Committee Endorses Jim Langevin for Congress

The Johnston Democratic Town Committee unanimously endorsed Jim Langevin this evening in his reelection bid to represent the Second District in the United States Congress.

“Jim Langevin never stops working for the people in Johnston and all Rhode Islanders. He has been a tireless advocate for hardworking families. He amplifies the voices of those who need it, like our children and people with disabilities. He fights to bring federal funding back to our state, and pushes for policies that utilize those funds effectively and efficiently,” said Committee Chairman Richard DelFino. “Jim has dedicated his life to public service, and he’s still the caring, compassionate, genuine person and friend we have always known here in Johnston. We are proud to endorse Jim Langevin for Congress, with the full and unanimous support of the Johnston Democratic Town Committee.”

Langevin started his career in public service in 1986 when he was elected to the state’s Constitutional Convention. He later served as a Warwick State Representative and was then elected Secretary of State. Langevin was elected to the United States Congress in 2000, and currently serves as a senior member of both the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees.

“Johnston has always held a special place in my heart. My dad’s family came from Johnston, and throughout my time in public service, the town has been overwhelmingly kind and helpful. It is truly like a second home to me,” said Langevin. “Johnston has a long history of supporting Democratic candidates and principles, and I am incredibly honored to once again have the endorsement of the Johnston Democratic Town Committee. Thank you so much to Chairman DelFino, Mayor Polisena, and the entire Town Committee for their continued support; it means more than I can say.”

Langevin’s State of the Union

This evening, President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address to the nation. This will be the President’s final State of the Union as our Commander-in-Chief, and I am confident that, despite the incredible challenges we face as a nation, he will provide an inspirational and uplifting message as we embark on a new year with renewed hope, promise, and opportunity.

In a preview video on the White House website, the President confesses that, “since I took office seven years ago, in the midst of crisis, I don’t think I have ever been more optimistic about a year than I am right now.” I share his optimism, because no matter what obstacles we face, I know that the American spirit is resilient. And it is with that sense of optimism and enthusiasm that I humbly begin another year of serving you in Congress.

As my own State of the Union, so to speak, I want to let you know what my priorities will be for 2016. First, as a senior member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, the safety of the American people is among my top priorities. I will continue to fight for policies that support our men and women in uniform, that care for our veterans, and that protect our national security at home and abroad. We live in a complex and ever-changing threat landscape, but we will not bow to terrorism or those who seek to dismantle our way of life.

Cybersecurity is a major component of not only national security, but of economic security, as well, and you can trust that I will remain a national leader in this area. As founder and co-chair of the Cybersecurity Caucus, I will push for more legislation that fortifies our cyber defenses, and for programs that better prepare a cyber workforce for our future. Strengthening information sharing and protecting critical infrastructure are at the top of this to-do list.

Closing the skills gap so we have qualified workers to grow jobs and our economy is an issue for cybersecurity and for so many other industries. I look forward to reaching across the aisle once again with my Career and Technical Education Caucus co-chair, Congressman ‘GT’ Thompson of Pennsylvania, to support policies that empower students and put them on a path to success. In particular, I hope we can pass my Counseling for Career Choice Act this year in order to ensure young people have all the information they need to make the right career choice.

The list goes on. I want to end gun violence by passing commonsense reforms that keep guns out of the wrong hands. I want to pass meaningful tax reform that supports a strong middle class. I want to fix our broken immigration system so we have stronger border security and provide a clear path to citizenship for those who seek the American dream. I want to improve upon the Affordable Care Act that has already reduced Rhode Island’s rate of uninsured residents by nearly 80 percent.

Friend, we can do all of these things, and I hope that 2016 is the time to do them. In his preview, President Obama said that what makes America great is “our capacity to change for the better.” Let’s change for the better this year and chart a brighter course for 2016 and beyond. I will be listening carefully to the President’s words tonight, but speeches aside, I can’t wait to take action to make 2016 a year for the record books.

 

Sincerely,

Jim Langevin
Member of Congress