State Representative Kevin J. Kuros, an Uxbridge Republican, is seeking a second term on Nov. 6, facing Democratic challenger Robert J. Dubois of Blackstone in the newly drawn Eighth Worcester District, which has just one precinct from the area that elected Kuros two years ago.
The new House district covers all of Bellingham, Blackstone, Millville, and Uxbridge, a change from the towns of Dudley, Webster, Douglas, and just a part of Uxbridge that had formed the district prior to the statewide redistricting.
Bellingham and Blackstone had been represented by state Representative Ryan Fattman, a Republican who is running for reelection in a redrawn 18th Worcester District that now includes Sutton, Douglas, Webster and Oxford.
Kuros and Dubois have strong ties to the new district. Kuros served on the Board of Selectmen in Uxbridge, while Dubois was a Blackstone selectman.
Both men see the economy and creating jobs as the key issues in the race.
Kuros points to his experience in business, spending 20 years in information technology and management consulting before opening a small real estate firm in Uxbridge.
Dubois singles out his experience working as an elected official, his background in manufacturing at the long-closed General Motors plant in Framingham, and his work as a government employee at Worcester County House of Correction.
Dubois, 59, said if elected he would work to ease regulations on small business, expand job training programs, and push for tax incentives to motivate hiring.
A native of Bellingham who spent 24 years on the Board of Selectmen in Blackstone, 11 as chairman, Dubois said he has seen a lot of manufacturing jobs leave the area.
To help spur growth of small companies that can help fill the gap left by larger enterprises closing their doors, Dubois is proposing a 10 percent tax credit for small businesses that create new jobs, or hire a person who was collecting unemployment compensation or a veteran.
In addition to offering tax incentives to spur hiring, Dubois said he would also eliminate some of the regulations he said make it more expensive to do business in Massachusetts.
“There is too much red tape,” he said, using as an example a regulation requiring the use of copper pipe, rather than less-expensive plastic, in certain instances, which pushes up construction costs.
He also said more money needs to be put into job-training programs.
“Finding a good paying job is a problem,” he said. “We need to train people in technology and other fields where there are openings.”
Dubois said he supports efforts by the state to deal with rising health care costs, but he thinks lawmakers have to keep working on the problem to bring the number of insured up to 100 percent and to reduce costs.
One way to help bring costs down, he said, is to emphasize prevention by giving people incentives to get healthier.
“We need to look at healthier school lunches and nutrition education,” he said, adding that he would also look at ways to reward people for going to the gym and losing weight.
Dubois said as a selectman he was always visible and accessible, and pledged that if elected he would be a full-time representative and will continue to be available to constituents.
Kuros, 47, said bringing a bigger piece of state aid back to his district to help fund the schools and municipal government is a cornerstone of his first-term accomplishments.
“There was a new sense of urgency about how important local aid is to cities and towns,” he said. “This is the most generous local aid package ever. We all take great pride in that.”
Kuros also points to restrictions placed on how public-assistance recipients can use electronic benefit transfer cards as a first-term accomplishment. The new restrictions prohibit benefits to be spent on cigarettes, alcohol, and tattoos, among other things.
“Not a dollar of government money should be spent to get a tattoo. That money is to feed your family,” he said.
He said he would also like to eliminate the ability of recipients to get cash with their state benefit cards.
Kuros said he was also proud of his efforts to prevent cuts in state funding for adult day care centers. He said he “fought vehemently against these cuts that would have put a lot of people out of business.”
Adult day care centers provide services to seniors and adults no longer able to stay home alone on a daily basis so their caregivers are able to go to work or get errands done outside of the house. Kuros said he was able to stop the cuts and keep a center in Webster open.
“It’s common sense. Do you want to spend $50 a day, or $350 a day to put someone in a nursing home?” he said.
Kuros called job creation number one on the list of issues facing the state, and said there are three ways to address the problem: government subsidies for certain industries, expanding government jobs, and keeping the government out of the way of private business as much as possible.
The jobs bill passed by the Legislature contains parts of all three, he said.
“Now we need to come out of the blocks as early as possible with round two,” he said.
He said he wants to look at lowering permitting fees, which now make it cheaper in some cases to rent equipment rather than invest in buying it, and at regulating restaurant gratuities that now mean some shift managers make less than the people they manage.