Why I Kicked Off My Campaign for Rep. Kennedy's Seat in Front of Bank of America

For the last eight years, I've had the privilege of representing Rhode Islanders, first as a Providence city councilor, now as a state legislator. I entered public service because I wanted the opportunity to work with grassroots coalitions to fight for regular people against special interests -- having initially been inspired to run for city council through my work as a rank-and-file activist in support of a living wage ordinance.

Together, we've won some important victories. As Washington debates cracking down on the big Wall Street banks, I've passed legislation that does so. Working hand-in-hand with the grassroots, I pushed into law bills that crack down on the big banks' foreclosures and predatory lending. When our Republican governor wanted to cut 25 million dollars from the state budget that would help working families, I organized fellow legislators in the Progressive Caucus (which I help lead) to block that budget until funding for schools and local services was successfully restored. I've also successfully passed legislation to increase available affordable housing, develop wind and solar power and "green jobs," and promote civil liberties, gay rights, and criminal justice reform. (I've written about some of these efforts on the Huffington Post over the course of the last year.)

Yet, despite our achievements, a troubling fact remains: life is becoming more and more difficult for working families -- in Rhode Island and across America. Countless Rhode Islanders struggle to get by because of high unemployment, depressed wages, and skyrocketing health care costs. It's no wonder that many people have completely given up hope that anyone in Washington D.C. is looking out for them.

It's with these families in mind that I've announced my candidacy for Congress in the Democratic Primary for the seat vacated by Patrick Kennedy. I'm running because Rhode Islanders, and all Americans, deserve someone in Congress who will stand up to powerful interests and win victories for regular people -- even while engaging in coalition with them. I was very gratified by the outpouring of grassroots support -- with thousands of people donating $5 or $10 to help my grassroots campaign get off to a strong start. Please consider joining them.

My background is in activism and organizing -- I'm not a typical politician, and I'm not running a typical campaign. Last week, I held my official announcement event outside of a Bank of America in East Providence, choosing the location to raise awareness of the ways our financial institutions have let us down. Even as taxpayers bailed out Wall Street banks, credit card rates went through the roof and the homes that families lived in for a lifetime were foreclosed on. Who in Washington, DC is telling banks this is unacceptable? By starting my campaign right in front of one of the big banks, I wanted to make clear that I will.

The next day, I stood with a group of Westin hotel workers who are in the midst of a labor dispute. Westin workers have had their pay slashed by 20 percent, and have seen their health care co-pays more than triple. Together, we delivered a petition with more than 3,600 signatures from Rhode Island and throughout the nation to the Westin's management, calling for a speedy resolution to the conflict.

If elected, I pledge to continue taking on challenges on behalf of ordinary Rhode Islanders. I'll fight to create good jobs that provide living wages, push forward on campaign finance reform so that ordinary people have more say in government and corporations less, and reform the banking industry, and push further on health insurance reform -- and for a public option in particular. Tackling these issues won't be easy, but with the support of a strong, grassroots base, I know I can deliver for working families.

I have a record of standing up to powerful interests, which means they won't be funding my campaign. This is a people-powered effort relying on a strong volunteer network and small donations. Please join us today, by visiting our campaign site at VoteSegal.com (it's still being fleshed out, but you can get a better sense of my values and work right here at HuffPost), and/or making a contribution online at Act Blue: With your support and enthusiasm, we can take our message to every voter in the district.