According to a Gallup poll, nearly two in 10 Rhode Islanders say the Ocean State is the worst state in the U.S. to live in.
Rhode Island gubernatorial candidates said at an economic forum at the Rhode Island Convention Center on Friday the negative attitude is playing a role.
"To a large extent, that self-image is a well-earned reputation," said Republican candidate for governor Ken Block.
"We focus too much on the negative," said Mayor Angel Taveras, Democratic candidate for governor.
"I am an optimist about the future of this state," said Clay Pell, Democratic candidate for governor.
"You'll never hear me talk bad about this state, unlike someone sitting to my right (referring to Block) who called our state a hall of shame," said Mayor Allan Fung, Republican candidate for governor.
Democratic candidates agreed on most economic issues, and a few jabs were thrown at Block.
The group spent a lot of time talking infrastructure, growing jobs, tourism, and the 195 development plan.
"We need to act with a sense of urgency. We need to get moving on the 195 connector. I'm glad we have a lot of proposals. I'm glad we have an executive director that's leading the way," Taveras said.
"This project will define the future of this city and this state," Pell said.
Marilyn Shellman, of Westerly, said not all of her concerns were addressed. She's waiting until after the primary for the real debates to begin.
"They're all talking the same rhetoric right now. I think it's still too early to tell what each of them will have as a strong point," she said.
Shellman said she's pleased to see the candidates choosing to talk about the economy as their top priority even if they're only skimming the surface.
General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, a Democratic candidate for governor, could not attend the forum.