"I am running because I value my community, enjoy helping people, and wish to help solve the problems facing us at this time. We are facing a multitude of challenges and I am concerned with the way the funding priorities on Beacon Hill aren't being addressed.
Genuine reform isn't just cutting local aid and education programs across the board, then tossing the burden back onto the cities and towns. We need to thoroughly examine the way the state spends our money, make tough choices, and look ahead to make things better.
Middle-class families are facing the brunt of the fiscal crisis. I know what it is like to worry about having a job, the challenges of raising a family, to pay a mortgage and tax bills, and I will bring that perspective to Beacon Hill."
— Submitted by the candidate
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?
"Local aid has been cut by $850 million to cities and towns over the past 2 years.
Municipal leaders and the Massachusetts Municipal Association have asked the Legislature to allow cities and towns to have the same authority that the state has in providing health care coverage for its employees. Municipal leaders estimated that this could save $100 million this year alone by being able to follow the same rules that the state does for providing health care coverage.
Every sector - state, federal, and private - has seen changes in its health care coverage. It seems reasonable that municipal plans must change as well. Basic equity dictates that municipal employees at a minimum have the same coverage that state employees enjoy.
Cities and towns are facing financial crisis. I would support allowing municipal leaders to have the option to be able to change their own health plans if they thought it would benefit their city, constituents, and employees.
The $100 million yearly savings could be used to keep teachers in the classrooms, to keep fire stations open, to keep police on the streets, to keep property taxes stable so that young people, unemployed homeowners, and the elderly on fixed incomes can afford to keep and stay in their homes."
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?
"The vast majority of public employees works hard and receives a pension that fairly represents their contributions to the system. Where the public's frustration lies is with the few public employees who game the system, take advantage of loopholes, and unfairly fatten their pensions.
For example: If a legislator made $60,000 a year for 10 years and then was appointed as an executive director with a salary of $125,000 for 3 years, what is the fair amount that the pension should be based on? I don't think basing the pension solely on those highest 3 years is fair. A better formula is needed.
I support further tightening the loopholes and eliminating the gaming of the system. This will allow us to better protect and provide retirement to the vast majority of pensioners who have consistently contributed to the system and earned their retirements."
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, I do support the requirement.
It is important that we hold our students to a certain level of proficiency in core subject matters. We need to be able to measure how well our students are doing and how effective our schools are at helping our students reach those levels.
I prefer a local approach to identifying and setting those educational standards rather than a national approach. I believe we are better suited at a local level to realize what the needed standard of performance should be for our students and schools. I think that it was unwise to relinquish that control to a national standard in order to receive greater federal revenues.
Massachusetts public education is rated No. 1 because we made the difficult choices years ago, committed higher taxes to the effort, and led the way for the rest of the nation to follow with higher standards and testing.
MCAS is far from perfect, but it has made remarkable improvements for the majority of students in our state. I fear that we may have jeopardized our leadership through short-sighted expediency."
Should the state Legislature be exempt from the state's public records law?
"No - more transparency and easier access to public information will make for a better and more trusted government.
In the digital age, there should be easy ways to track legislation and have access to public records. The days of backroom dealings and undue influence need to end. We cannot afford to continue those ways.
Sunshine is a wonderful disinfectant."
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.
"I am an independent so I would not be obligated to act under the direct control of party leadership. I would be free to act in the best interest of the people who I would represent and put their needs before the political needs of the parties.
The majority of Massachusetts voters register as independents and choose not to align with any party. This trend will continue, and I hope to vote on behalf of my constituents for whatever proposal makes the most sense and not because of partisan obligations.
One recent position that I disagreed with was the failure of our elected leaders to pass a casino gambling bill. I am disappointed that the House speaker, Senate president, and governor could not come to terms on the bill. Egos, special interests, and authorship got in the way of progress.
At a minimum, three much-needed privately funded construction projects would be underway, providing jobs for the building and service trades, along with desperately needed revenue from the sale of the licenses to the state."
Will you make public any questionnaires you fill out in pursuit of the endorsement of unions or other groups?
"Yes - absolutely and I call on my Democratic and Republican opponents to do the same.
It is important for the voters to understand where the money and support for a candidate is coming from and the promises and commitments that were made in conjunction with receiving the money, help, mailings, advertisements, and phone banks from special interest groups.
The voters need to clearly understand what the candidates have committed to in order to receive the support and money of the special interest groups.
I want to maintain my independence, so I have not sought or accepted money from any special interest group or lobbyist. I don't want to be bought and paid for and have made it a tenet of my campaign. My opponent, Mr. Chan, has accepted thousands of dollars from special interest groups and lobbyists. That is not the type of representative I want to be."
Should the Legislature be subject to a full audit?
"Yes - accountability and transparency are important in restoring confidence in government."
Is the Legislature holding enough full formal sessions?
"The legislative schedule is set to favor incumbency. Five months off during an election year to allow members to campaign really challenges the definition of what is a full-time Legislature."
Should there be term limits for the jobs of House Speaker and Senate President?
"Legislators should view their role as temporary. I believe in the vision of our founders who preferred citizen legislators, not career politicians.
Term limits for the House speaker and Senate president are needed so that change can occur and fresh approaches can be explored. This is where I, as an independent legislator, can play an important role.
Partisan politics plays too great a role in our current system. The actions of the legislative leadership provide cover for members who lack moral courage. This type of legislative behavior is not well received by the people, and the present system needs to be voted out."