Pastor and former principal Jeffrey Bailey is challenging Democratic incumbent James Timilty for his seat in the state Senate’s Bristol and Norfolk District.
Bailey, a Republican, and Timilty are vying to represent a district that covers Mansfield, Norton, Rehoboth, Seekonk, Foxborough, Medfield, and parts of Attleboro and Sharon.
Bailey, a first-time candidate, said he is very concerned about the job market, government integrity, and the region’s lack of economic growth. He said the migration of young people out of his congregation at Grace Baptist Church in Attleboro is mirrored in the state’s lagging population growth.
“The biggest issues for everyone are jobs and the economy,” said Bailey, who lives in Attleboro and plans to remain active in his congregation if elected. “The cost of health care, what businesses are paying, taxation issues, issues related to transportation — it all relates to the same thing: jobs and the economy.”
To get a handle on the cost of health insurance, Bailey said, he would work on market-based solutions that would give “younger people more choices” for health care plans. He said he would also focus on lowering regulations on businesses to help make them more competitive across state lines, particularly in terms of taxation.
Bailey said he would push for more transparency when it comes to MBTA employee pensions, and would work “with other legislators to make the system more solvent.” He would also focus on a controversial Chapter 40B housing development proposed in Medfield by Gatehouse Group LLC.
Under the state’s Chapter 40B law, a developer proposing to build affordable housing can avoid some local zoning requirements in communities where the number of housing units deemed affordable by the state is less than 10 percent of the total housing stock. Bailey said that threshold is too high, and he would work to “give communities a little more say as to what goes into their community and what doesn’t.”
Timilty said he will continue to focus on education and economic development, pushing for more state Chapter 70 funds for public schools, and for good investments in the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, and reorganizing crime labs under the State Police.
He said he is also proud of the work he did as a member of the Legislature’s Special Committee on Redistricting, which worked for 12 months to reorganize the state’s congressional districts after Massachusetts lost a seat based on the 2010 Census results.
“We were a national model this year,” said Timilty, who lives in Walpole.
Timilty said one of his biggest accomplishments since coming to the Legislature in 2004 is the overhaul of the state’s 911 system, which will be changed from the more than 200 safety answering points currently in use into a more cost-effective regional system.
The four-term senator said he has also been supportive of small business, talking to business owners and hearing their concerns. He said he was the highest-rated Democrat in Massachusetts on the National Federation of Independent Business 2011-2012 Legislator Report Card.
Timilty said he feels he has been successful during his tenure, and that he has delivered programs and initiatives developed through discussions between the state and the community.
“Not everything is just filing a bill,” he said. “I’ve had a pretty successful eight years.”
Both candidates expressed concern about pollution-mitigation plans for the old Medfield State Hospital property.
“My position would be the same as my opponent’s,” Bailey said. “The state messed it up and the state needs to clean it up.”
Bailey added that his fresh energy and perspective may more quickly fuel the state and community toward a resolution.
Timilty said he has been involved in the Medfield State Hospital discussion for “a decade or more,” but points out that there are various factors that must be considered.
“You know, not everything is lowering regulations and lowering taxes,” he said. “The environment is huge. As much as you want a great economy, it has to come with some respect to the environment.”
Timilty said pollution found on the hospital property has raised health and safety concerns among families in the community. He said he voted against allowing the state to take control of cleaning up the property because he was convinced the results were going to be substandard.
Timilty chairs the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, is the vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Revenue, and sits on the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensures, the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government, the Joint Committee on Public Health, and the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.
The candidates will face each other in the general election on Nov. 6.
Laura Franzini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at LauraFranzini.