To give voters a choice in November, 25-year-old Francis X. Stanton is challenging incumbent Democrat Representative John Lawn in the 10th Middlesex House District, which covers parts of Watertown, Waltham, and Newton.
Stanton, a Waltham Republican, said he believes Beacon Hill is “broken,” and that the state House of Representatives could benefit from a diversity of ideas and opinions to challenge the status quo.
“Despite my youthfulness, I consider myself to have a wealth of knowledge in economics and how a democracy is supposed to run,” said the Waltham native, who is a graduate student at Boston College. Stanton said that being involved in the community and hearing residents’ concerns and interests spurred him to step up as a Republican candidate when no one else did.
Stanton said the two biggest issues affecting the state right now are health care regulations and taxes. He said the health cost control bill that was passed at the end of the legislative session in July is the wrong approach.
“It’s basically taking everything that’s wrong with the system and multiplying it to the highest degree,” he said.
Stanton said that instead of further involving the government in health care, increasing regulations and restrictions for doctors and hospitals, and giving the public “cookie-cutter” options for insurance plans, he would work on providing more private markets so the public could have more of a choice. He would take the government out as middle man, and help doctors and hospitals work directly with patients to create an appropriate, affordable plan.
Stanton, who said he has been heavily involved in the district’s politics since 2010 as a volunteer for various campaigns, said that if elected, he also will work to make sure taxes affect the people “as little as possible.”
Stanton said he also is concerned with the quality of Waltham High School, where he sometimes teaches as a substitute. He said that while administrators are receiving iPads, “the whole building is basically a dead zone” for wireless service, and that the building’s inadequate insulation is leading to increased heating and cooling costs. Planning renovations for the 1969 building, to get it on the same level as the modern elementary and middle schools in the district, would be one of his top priorities.
An important issue for both candidates is the fate of the Walter E. Fernald Developmental Center, the nation’s oldest public institution for the developmentally disabled, which was slated to close in June 2010. Both candidates want the city of Waltham to get control of the property, and then take careful steps in planning its redevelopment.
While Stanton is firmly against turning it into a housing complex, Lawn says the expansive property has the potential for mixed use, which he said may include housing. Lawn stressed that the government needs to work with the community to make a decision that is best for the city.
“We have to take it step by step so we don’t burden the residents of Waltham,” the freshman representative said. “We can’t just say [it will be] all housing without addressing schools, or all buildings without addressing traffic. We have to be careful about how we go about it.”
Lawn, of Watertown, who won the seat in a special election against Republican Jim Dixon in May 2011 after state Representative Peter Koutoujian was appointed Middlesex County sheriff, believes he has the knowledge and balanced experience to continue serving the district successfully. After being laid off from Fidelity Investments in 2002, he opened his own real estate firm in Watertown in 2004, giving him experience at both the corporate and small business levels.
“I think I’ve been working hard doing the job and being involved in my district,” said Lawn, who sits on the joint committees on Elder Affairs, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse, and Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. “I’ve been trying to get the message out that I’m a hard worker, so I hope [the community] will give me the chance to serve them again.”
Since being in office, Lawn has been focused on increasing state revenue, creating jobs, and removing the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse, which he says is out of date. More than 100 House members have endorsed House bill 469 to eliminate the statute of limitations, but a vote on it is yet to come.
Lawn said that if elected to another term, jobs would be “front and center.”
“I sit on the Economic Development Committee and we did pass a bill that worked on many issues in terms of creating jobs,” he said, referring to the Economic Development and Jobs bills that established collaborative programs to develop and implement worker training for employers and employees. “We have to do more of these.”
Lawn says a big step toward job creation is retaining area college students after graduation, and the committee’s talent pipeline program, which offers paid internships at technology startups, is a step in the right direction.
To increase state revenue, Lawn said the answer is not to continue raising fees and taxes. He said he’s concerned about finding the money to fund the services that educate children, keep good teachers in the classroom, and support the police and fire departments. He said he will work to reform the tax code so that it is fair for everybody, and would address his belief that the state’s property taxes are too high.