WAKEFIELD — The six people running to represent us on Beacon Hill were asked the following question: What is the Nov. 4 election about? Here are their answers.
32nd MIDDLESEX DISTRICT
Incumbent Paul Brodeur of Melrose is being challenged by Greenwood Republican John Lock. The district includes Wakefield precincts 4, 5 and 6.
Next week’s election is about the quality of life in our communities.
Over the past several years, Massachusetts and the nation have endured some incredibly challenging times. The fallout from the Great Recession devastated our economy and many local families were threatened by job loss, income reduction and possible foreclosure. While challenges remain, Massachusetts is on the rebound.
Our unemployment rate is down. We lead the nation in biotech and energy efficiency. Our health care and tech sectors are robust and adding jobs. We have the number 1 schools in the nation. The state has its highest bond rating ever and our rainy day fund is one of the strongest in the nation, with a current balance of $1.223 billion. We have targeted economic development that builds our strengths as an education and innovation economy. We know that our future depends on a robust private sector that our ability to produce the most creative and productive workforce in the world.
We have seen investments our local communities pay off. Helped by the investment of state and local funds, downtown Melrose is booming, and we are pursuing state funds to help improve downtown Wakefield. The new Galvin Middle School, funded with state and local dollars, is the crown jewel of Wakefield public education and is sparking new energy and enthusiasm throughout the school district. People want to move to our communities and our property values are increasing. Our communities are great places to raise a family.
Massachusetts is also moving forward on other critical issues that affect the quality of life for all our residents. We passed important domestic violence prevention reforms and expanded access to drug treatment for those with addiction problems. We passed a bipartisan bill to reduce gun violence. We have expanded access to home care services so that folks can stay in the community rather than be forced into nursing homes. We lead the nation in support of our veterans and I cosponsored the Valor Act, which provides increased property tax relief and enhanced employment, education and health care support services for military personnel and their families. These initiatives help the families of our district.
Things are getting better but we need to continue on this path forward and provide opportunities to strengthen middle class families. We need to build on our recent progress in funding our public colleges and universities to keep open that gateway of opportunity for all qualified students. We need to continue to develop our workforce and work with our community colleges so that the advanced manufacturing and other middle skills jobs are available to Massachusetts workers at companies located in the Commonwealth. We need to continue our commitment to controlling the cost of health care that while slowing, is continuing to consume a larger and larger share of our state budget. We must continue to push for more equitable distribution of state aid to our schools. Indeed, we must continue to look for ways to innovate and improve efficiency across state government.
Our challenges are many and there is much work to be done but our future is bright. If re-elected, I look forward to working together with local government, community leaders and residents on our shared priorities. With a continued focus on education, jobs and economic development, we will continue to move forward building strong, safe, prosperous communities where our families can flourish and our kids have a chance to do a little bit better than their parents.
This election is about our communities. With your help, I have worked hard to make this vision of shared prosperity a reality. I ask for your continued support and vote so we can continue this important work together.
The Nov. 4 election for State Representative in the 32nd Middlesex District boils down to three things:
1) The need to improve accountability in Massachusetts government through balance on Beacon Hill,
2) Keeping decisions about how government spends our taxpayer dollars as local as possible, and
3) Restoring integrity to our social welfare programs and maintaining the integrity of our vote.
Lapses of Accountability with One-Party Rule on Beacon Hill
Of the numerous scandals that have plagued Deval Patrick’s administration and the Democrats on Beacon Hill, this last week’s pension play on behalf of ousted DCF (Department of Children and Families) head, Olga Roche, is a perfect case study of lack of accountability under one-party rule. (Currently, there are only 29 Republicans out of 160 Representatives on Beacon Hill.)
Olga Roche resigned under fire in April of this year when two additional children under the purview of DCF died. One was an infant that the Grafton police warned was in a dangerous situation but the fax notification to DCF was missed for at least six days. These deaths and others, including Jeremiah Oliver, whose initial disappearance went unnoticed by visiting DCF workers, were just one reason for the public outcry calling for Olga Roche’s dismissal.
At the same time, it had also become obvious that DCF’s medical detention of Justina Pelletier against her family’s protests was unsubstantiated. Justina was a 14-year-old from Connecticut who suffers from a rare genetic mitochondrial defect that runs in her family but staff at Children’s Hospital in Boston insisted the problem was psychological and had DCF take custody of her. Over the ensuing 16 months, Justina’s parents endured an unconstitutional gag order regarding Justina’s predicament and were allowed only one hour of visitation per week under the supervision of an armed guard. While Representative Paul Brodeur and the Democrats circled the wagons once it became apparent that the family’s diagnosis was correct and the state’s was wrong, Republican Representatives led by Jim Lyons and Marc Lombardo rallied the people on Beacon Hill and continually demanded that Deval Patrick and Olga Roche free Justina. Justina’s freedom could have been won much earlier with additional pressure from a second party on Beacon Hill.
Forcing Olga Roche out was accountability enough, right? Not really. She has continued to receive her $138,000 salary over the past six months, first as a “consultant,” then under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Just last week, she resigned again just days after her 60th birthday, triggering additional pension payouts for the rest of her life. One positive outcome is a bill named for Justina that has been introduced in Congress by members of both parties and would ban medical experimentation on wards of the state.
The Best Spending Decisions Are Made Close to Home
Republicans on Beacon Hill fight to maximize the amount of money the state sends back to the cities and towns for education and public services, including police, fire and libraries. As an example, Republicans proposed a bill last year that would send half of any revenues that the state received, in excess of what was expected, to the cities and towns. Paul Brodeur and the other Democrats voted this down in favor of keeping all windfalls on Beacon Hill.
Just as cities and towns can appropriate money more effectively than the state, Massachusetts can manage its programs more effectively than bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. For this reason, Republicans support a waiver from Obamacare and reject Common Core standardized curricula for our schools because our state already excelled in both areas. The one billion dollars already spent in Massachusetts on glitch-prone Obamacare websites and temporary coverage for Bay Staters who were unable to purchase new healthcare policies to replace the ones they had that were no longer compliant is proof enough that centralization will only compromise the measures that were already in place.
Integrity of Our Social Welfare Programs and Our Vote
Knocking on doors, I’ve encountered many voters who are accustomed to voting Democrat but are very uncomfortable with the policy of open borders coupled with generous and indiscriminate social welfare. Consider a few converging factors at the local, state and national levels concerning illegal immigration:
First, our incumbent State Representative, Paul Brodeur, has amassed a voting record that facilitates illegal immigrant access to our social welfare programs by requiring only self declaration as “documentation” of legal status for enrollment. He has also voted against enforcement of penalties for individuals and merchants caught defrauding the system and has voted against an audit of the DTA (Department of Transitional Assistance). Public data show that welfare fraud is a problem. For example, 19,000 voter registration forms sent to welfare recipients were returned because the recipient did not live at the address on file and last year, the auditor found over 1,000 names of deceased people on the welfare rolls.
At the state level, the Democrat nominee for Governor, Martha Coakley, admitted last week in a debate with Charlie Baker that she would not be opposed to non-citizens being allowed to vote! Finally, the President is widely expected to announce amnesty for tens of millions of illegal immigrants soon after the midterm elections. Executive amnesty defies the Constitution, which explicitly assigns immigration policy to Congress in Article I. Our neighbors in Lynn are already grappling with the schooling of many new arrivals and the reintroduction of tuberculosis into the community. Amnesty promises to keep downward pressure on wages and household incomes while increasing demand for expensive government services and assistance for years to come.
It is no wonder that the latest CNN poll says that nearly 7 in 10 Americans are angry about the direction that the country is headed today. Given these circumstances and Paul Brodeur’s failure to live up to his 2010 campaign statements that Massachusetts was taxed enough already, it is time to return Paul Brodeur to the private sector rather than send him back to Beacon Hill where he votes 99.5 percent of the time with the Democrat leadership.
NINTH ESSEX DISTRICT
Republican incumbent Donald Wong of Saugus is being challenged by Democrat Christopher Finn, also of Saugus. The district includes Wakefield precincts 1, 2, 3 and 7.
The voters of Massachusetts have the opportunity to make a difference on election day, Nov. 4. They not only will elect a State Representative, State Senator and United States Representative, they will also elect a new Governor and have the opportunity to cast their vote on important ballot questions concerning the gas tax, bottle deposits, casinos and earned sick time for employees.
This election day means different things to different people. To me, it means having the opportunity to see democracy at its finest. I am proud and honored to have served the Ninth Essex District for the past two terms and I hope to have the chance to continue for another term. I have worked hard to represent my constituents and take my job as State Representative very seriously. I am equally proud to say that I have worked with my fellow Legislators in the House and Senate on many issues, some of which affect the district as well as the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I have been working very hard, not only on local issues for Wakefield and the Ninth Essex District, but on issues that affect everyone across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As a member of the Ways and Means Committee for two terms, I have travelled throughout the Commonwealth and have had the opportunity to hear the concerns of the citizens of Massachusetts as well as the people in my district.
The people of the Ninth Essex District have voiced their concerns about the need for elected officials who will ensure they have jobs and opportunities. They are concerned about the rising cost of healthcare and the need for good full service hospitals. … They are concerned about inflation and the higher costs of living. … They are concerned that their children are given the funding and educational tools they need to succeed. … They are concerned that veterans and seniors receive the benefits they deserve. My constituents want – and deserve – to have elected officials who work together to make our communities a better place to live and work. I have and will continue to work for these issues.
This election gives them the opportunity to have their voices heard – loud and clear. My experience as businessman in a family run business and as an elected official at both the local and state level has allowed me to work as the mediator between our community members and our state government to ensure that the people of the Ninth Essex district continue to have a strong voice on Beacon Hill.
Being elected to a third term on Nov. 4 will give me an opportunity to continue my hard work to make a difference. … To work to make the Ninth Essex District a better place to live and work I have committed myself to working for you – the people of the Ninth Essex district. I will continue to work tirelessly to make sure I will continue to represent my district – and Massachusetts – with integrity and values.
In a sentence, this election is about the future of our district. Do we want a State Representative like Representative Wong, who is satisfied simply going and voting on legislation that improves other Districts? Or do we want a State Representative who is a proven advocate, who can go and fight to bring improvement to Wakefield, Saugus and Lynn?
As the next State Representative, I will fight for the issues that matter for our District. While Saugus and Wakefield are left underfunded in education, wealthier communities like Belmont, Wellesley and Lexington enjoy significantly more state funding. Our women still earn, on average, 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns for the same work. Our hardworking families still struggle with the decision to stay at home to care for a sick child or go to work at a job that they need for fear that they may lose it. We need a State Representative who will fight to improve these important issues. As the husband to a public school teacher and son-in-law to two retired public school teachers, I understand that our state can do more to fund our schools to provide a proper 21st century learning experience for our students. I will fight for increasing funding for education. I will fight for equal pay for equal work. I will fight for earned sick time for our hard working employees.
We need a State Representative who is experienced in drafting and interpreting laws. As an attorney, my job is to interpret laws on a daily basis. As a public servant, I’ve succeeded in drafting and passing local legislation to improve my community.
We need a State Representative who has experience with and understands the struggles of not just the biggest businesses but also the small businesses of our communities. As an attorney, I have advised businesses of all shapes and sizes, from the biggest established banks in Boston, to the smallest mom and pop startups that are nothing more than an idea and a dream. We need to protect our small businesses and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation so that our economy can thrive.
Most importantly, we need a State Representative who is in touch with our residents. Representative Wong’s recent vote against the minimum wage increase was a vote that indicates he thinks our families can live on $320 a week. It’s clear he doesn’t understand the struggle of our hardworking families and individuals. I understand that a family can barely afford rent at $320 a week in this area. They certainly can’t afford food, clothes, savings for college or a small amount for entertainment with this kind of income. I would have voted differently because I understand the struggle of our hardworking families relying on the income from a minimum wage job.
I believe I can do better for Wakefield, Saugus and Lynn. With your vote on Nov. 4, I will start improving this District on day one as your next state representative.
FIFTH MIDDLESEX DISTRICT
Incumbent Jason Lewis, a Democrat from Winchester, is running against Melrose Republican Monica Medeiros.
The Nov. 4 election is an opportunity for the voters across the Fifth Middlesex district to choose the candidate who will be the most effective advocate for our communities. I believe that my track record of delivering results makes me the strongest candidate to continue serving as your State Senator.
I’m honored that you elected me on April 1, 2014 in the special election to replace now-Congresswoman Katherine Clark. Since then I have been working hard to be fully engaged in every corner of the district and to tackle the challenges facing our families and small businesses.
I’m proud that in the short time since the special election I have been able to work closely with our municipal leaders and other community members to deliver results for our communities, including:
• Advocating for increased funding in the FY’15 state budget for education, local aid, services for seniors and veterans and mental health and substance abuse treatment and prevention
• Securing approximately $15 million of state funding in a transportation bond bill for local transportation projects, including upgrading unsafe intersections, streetscape improvements and other roadway improvements
• Securing $5.5 million of state funding in an environmental bond bill for flood mitigation and community beautification projects in our district
• Leading the effort to appropriate $250,000 in the state budget for the Mass in Motion program that promotes opportunities for healthier eating and more active living, which ensured continued funding for Mass in Motion-Melrose/Wakefield
• Leading the effort to establish a Chapter 70 Education Foundation Budget Review Commission, which will enable a careful and thorough examination of current educational needs and best practices, an important step toward achieving more adequate and equitable funding for all our public schools
• Successfully championing the creation of a new Complete Streets initiative, which will encourage more complete transportation planning by our cities and towns and can provide increased Chapter 90 transportation funds from the state for our municipal budgets
This election is about fighting to make sure that future generations have more opportunities than we did.
All throughout this district, I find families who are struggling to pay ever increasing taxes and fees for property, water and sewer, healthcare, utilities and athletics. They are working harder and longer and walking away with less and less of their own money to improve the lives of themselves and their families.
With so much more money going out, it makes it all the more important that our elected officials spend our hard earned tax dollars with the utmost care.
That means finding ways to deliver the services people need more efficiently and ensuring we use the strictest of verifications before giving our hard earned money away. That means working diligently to eliminate and prevent fraud and to prosecute those who abuse the system.
We have done a good job in Melrose of doing more with less. We have been at the forefront. We have saved our taxpayers millions of dollars through switching our health care to the Group Insurance Commission, through innovative regionalization and through internal reorganization. Of course there will always be room to grow but we need leaders at the state level who will not look only to raise and create new taxes as my opponent has done but who will do as we have done in Melrose and find new and better ways to deliver services more efficiently.
We also need leaders at the State House who recognize that we cannot deliver our vital local government services including education, roads and police and fire protection, without having more of our tax dollars returned to us through local aid. I am committed to fighting for our local communities and will not let my voice be drowned out by a myriad of special interest lobbyists on Beacon Hill.
By contrast, my opponent is a man who for the past six years has been part of the status quo culture on Beacon Hill. At every turn he has sought new and higher taxes – voting to increase the sales tax by 25 percent and, in a tenuous economic time, voting to create a new software sales tax on one of our burgeoning industries. He also voted to increase the gas tax and to take all accountability away from the state legislators by voting to automatically increase the gas tax as the Consumer Price Index goes up.
I am sure we all find our roads could use some repair but when we learn that in Massachusetts we spend $675,312 per mile for road maintenance while the national average is only $162,202, it certainly gives one pause.
We need leaders at the State House who will demand accountability, who will ask the tough questions and who are committed to looking out for the taxpayers.
We also need leaders who support our local Massachusetts employers. We must have an open relationship with these employers. I am committed to finding ways to keeping these employers in our state and helping them grow.
On Nov. 4, you have a choice to keep the status quo way of doing things or to vote in someone who is truly committed to growing our economy and providing opportunity for many future generations of Bay Staters by voting for me, Monica Medeiros, for your next state senator.