Incumbent Democratic state Representative Carolyn C. Dykema is facing Republican challenger Marty A. Lamb in the race to represent Holliston, Hopkinton, and parts of Southborough, Westborough. and Medway on Beacon Hill.
The two candidates both say boosting the state’s economy is a top priority, with Dykema highlighting her record in the Legislature, and Lamb pointing to his experience as a small-business owner and his work advocating for less government regulation.
The election is Nov. 6.
Dykema said she is asking voters to send her to the state House of Representatives for a third term so she can continue to work to create jobs in the Eighth Middlesex District, help small businesses, and push to maintain school funding.
“I care a lot about this state. I grew up here in Massachusetts, and my husband and I are raising three children here,” she said. “I have a stake in our future.”
Dykema, who lives in Holliston, pointed to work she did during her first term to get a sewer connection between Hopkinton and Milford that she said allowed Lonza Biologics to create 100 new jobs, and “raised the foundation for future growth in the 495 cluster.”
And as a member of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, the 44-year-old said, she traveled across the state listening to small-business owners saying the cost of health insurance was preventing them from adding full-time employees.
Dykema, who has a master’s in business administration from Indiana State University and served on the Holliston Planning Board before being elected to the Legislature, said “dealing with the new normal and living within a more limited budget” will be a challenge for the state.
She said her business background gives her the right mind-set and experience to work with limited resources, and points to a pilot program she initiated with the EMC Corp. and state Department of Transportation that helped save the state money.
She said as a legislator she brought EMC consultants together with state officials in a six-month effort to identify waste in the transportation agency’s snow- and ice-removal operation.
“We were immediately able to save $250,000,” Dykema said.
Another critical challenge facing the state is to maintain education funding and local aid, she said.
Dykema said the communities in her House district have excellent public schools, and advocates closer ties between the schools and local business community as well as more “applied learning” opportunities, where students use technology and social media tools to give presentations in the classroom, work cooperatively and “harness creativity.”
She also said curriculums should be adapted to emphasize mathematics, science, technology, and engineering, as well as leadership skills.
“We need to prepare our students to lead the innovation economy, which is our strength,” Dykema said.
Lamb, also of Holliston, said opening his own law firm in 1996 has given him a firsthand look at the challenges facing employers, as he managed through some of the best and worst economic times the state has seen.
“I’ve had to deal with the pitfalls of running my own business,” the 55-year-old said.
The experience has shown him that there are too many regulations on small businesses in this state, stifling employers’ ability to hire and expand, he said.
After an unsuccessful run for Congress two years ago against US Representative James McGovern, a Democrat from Worcester, Lamb said, he got involved with the advocacy group New Jobs for Massachusetts, pushing for “nonpartisan legislative solutions to stimulate jobs.”
Lamb points to state regulations putting strict definitions on whom companies can hire as independent contractors instead of full employees entitled to benefits.
Sometimes small businesses need temporary help, and should be able to hire people as short-term independent consultants regardless of whether they are incorporated, as state law requires in most circumstances, Lamb said. He said the state charges people $500 to set up a corporation, and then $460 annually.
The law’s aim “is to make sure businesses aren’t trying to avoid giving benefits to employees,” Lamb said, “but the unintended consequence is that it stifles the ability of the person who wants to work part time, and the ability of a company to hire them on a short-term basis.”
Lamb said no radical change is necessary to fix this problem, but simplifying the incorporation process and lowering the fees would correct the unintended consequences.
He would also eliminate the Massachusetts tax on inventory, which he says prompts companies to move their distribution warehouses to New Hampshire, Maine and other New England states that do not impose a tax.
“The revenue from the jobs brought back to Massachusetts will offset any tax loss,” he said.
Lamb said that while stimulating job creation and boosting the state’s economy are his first priorities, “bringing integrity back to Beacon Hill” is also important.
He would push to require the Legislature to adhere to the same public access laws that municipal boards are mandated to follow, and require all bills be available to the public for at least 72 hours before a vote.