Party: Republican

Incumbent: No

Headquarters: 200 Rock Island Road, Houghs Neck, Quincy, MA 02169
Phone: (617) 471-1262

Age: 53

Occupation: Business owner

Family: I am married to Tina Iredale, who teaches reading at Montclair Elementary School in Quincy.
We have one son, Christopher, who is a junior at Skidmore College.
We have a chocolate Lab, Kobe, that accompanies me to work every day.

Town: Quincy

Education: Bachelor of arts degree, University of Delaware

Experience: Past 23 years as owner and president of The Karsten Company, a full-service construction and development company. Prior to that I worked in sales, estimating, and project management in the construction industry.
In the community, I have been active as a coach in Quincy Youth baseball and Quincy Youth soccer, for which I served as a board member and vice president.
I have also spent 14 years serving on the board at St. Chrysostom's Church in Quincy. My major accomplishment was overseeing the development of 10 townhouses on church property. This netted more than $1 million and helped revitalize the parish.
Currently, I sit on the executive council of the Episcopal Diocese for Eastern Massachusetts. I help organize construction and development projects for area churches in need.

— Submitted by the candidate

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Why are you running?

"I am running for state representative to use my real-world business experience to help get our state economy moving again.

Twenty-three years ago, I started my business from the basement of my house in Houghs Neck and have built it into a $5 million-a-year construction company.

I have managed large construction projects in just about every segment of the economy. I work with executives, project managers and tradesmen, all with their own project issues and concerns.

I know how to manage budgets and work with people to accomplish goals. I have led my company through difficult times and believe my management and leadership experience would be a much needed asset at the State House."

— Submitted by the candidate

Issues

Health costs

The Mass. Taxpayers Foundation recently recommended that local officials be given the power to design their own health plans without having to negotiate with the unions, and that state retirees use Medicare for their primary health care coverage. Do you support these proposals?

"Recently, the city of Quincy was able reduce its health care costs significantly when city leaders worked with municipal employees to gain their support for joining the state's Group Insurance Commission. The mayor exercised leadership and worked with the unions to provide excellent health care coverage without overburdening taxpayers. I believe that collective bargaining can work and this is a good example.

I support the use of Medicare for primary health care coverage of retirees, provided that the state will make up for any coverage gaps. Seniors on fixed incomes are struggling with increased health care costs and we must support them as much as possible."

State pensions

The foundation also proposed changes in state and municipal pensions, such as increasing the retirement age and capping annual pensions at $100,000. Do you agree?

"I do not think it is fair to change a system people have bought into and planned their lives around. I do think that the system as designed is unsustainable and must be changed for those entering into it.

I believe that contributions must match benefits. When you contribute for years based upon an average salary and receive an annual pension based upon only the highest three earning years, the math simply doesn't add up.

Ultimately, the system must support itself. It is unfair to ask taxpayers to pay for public pensions when they are worried about paying for their own retirements."

MCAS

Do you believe in keeping the requirement that a student must pass the MCAS or an MCAS-like test in order to graduate from high school?

"Yes. Education is one of our state's greatest strengths and something we should continue to make a top priority.

My wife is an elementary teacher in the Quincy public schools, and I know how hard teachers work and how much they care about their students.

A highly educated workforce will enable us to compete in a global economy. To maintain this edge, I believe we must keep our standards high by setting measurable expectations for our students and our school systems."

Public records

Should the state Legislature be exempt from the state's public records law?

"Absolutely not. Public business should always be open to the public. Better-informed citizens make for better government.

Talking to citizens, I get the sense that there is a general lack of trust."

Party leadership

Cite any votes (if an incumbent) or positions (if a challenger or newcomer) you have taken that disagree with the stance taken by your party's legislative leadership.

"In contrast to Republican Party leadership and also my two opponents, I am not in favor of repealing the sales tax on alcohol.

While I support smarter spending and lower taxes in general, this tax makes sense. There are only 5 states in the entire country that do not have a sales tax on alcohol.

The money from this discretionary spending tax is dedicated to substance abuse prevention and treatment programs. In Quincy, I have seen many families devastated by substance abuse. I have also seen many people turn their lives around thanks to effective treatment programs.

In a time of economic peril, we cannot afford to further burden our families, our schools, and our public safety departments by the scourge of drugs and alcohol. While they might not be perfect, the overall data shows these programs work and we need every tool available."

Endorsements

Will you make public any questionnaires you fill out in pursuit of the endorsement of unions or other groups?

"Yes, and I will say that I have not filled out any questionnaires in pursuit of endorsements.

I do not mean any disrespect to these groups, but the only endorsement I am seeking is from the citizens in the district and I'm happy to answer any of their questions."

Legislative audit

Should the Legislature be subject to a full audit?

"Yes, the public deserves transparency from its elected officials. After all, they work for us."

Formal sessions

Is the Legislature holding enough full formal sessions?

"Not based on its track record.

From talking to voters, there is a sense that the Legislature is slow to get things done. Then, once legislation is finally about to pass, a bunch of last-minute changes get attached and it grinds to a halt.

The casino legislation is a perfect example. By holding more full formal sessions, more can be discussed out in the open and compromises can be reached sooner rather than later."

Term limits

Should there be term limits for the jobs of House Speaker and Senate President?

"Yes. As an active member of the community, I have held various leadership positions on boards. I believe it's important to know when to serve and when to step down.

Allowing for new leadership brings new ideas and encourages people to take on more responsibility in order to prove they can lead."

Responses gathered through e.thePeople

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