"I got into this race because I believe that Beacon Hill is fundamentally broken and our leadership in Boston has us on the wrong track.
Rather than focus on reining in skyrocketing health care costs and exploding state pension liabilities, career politicians in Boston create ever more novel ways of taking money out of our pockets (increasing our sales taxes 25% and adding new taxes on alcohol) while slashing local aid.
While the state payroll continues to grow under the Patrick administration, our cities and towns have been slashing police officers, firefighters, and teachers in response to local aid cuts.
Unemployment in the Commonwealth is still near its 35-year high.
We have to make the needed reforms to create a more business-friendly environment to keep the jobs we have while encouraging business growth and attracting new businesses.
But rather than picking and choosing individual businesses or industries to support, such as Governor Patrick's ill-advised $75 million gamble in Evergreen Solar, I will support incentives across all industries and businesses.
This great country of ours was founded upon the principle of government OF the People, BY the People, and FOR the People. Unfortunately, it has been transformed into one OF the political machine, BY the corrupt, and FOR the special and self-interest.
While this election is certainly an important one for the future of our Commonwealth, the choice is a simple one."
— 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?
"I support the municipal health insurance proposal provided it utilizes the state's GIC, or similar organization, to assure the plan offers quality and cost-effective coverage.
I've seen firsthand the savings possible. I first got into politics in 2003 when I saw that municipal health insurance costs were crippling Taunton's budget, as they were then self-insured through Blue Cross Blue Shield. I proposed moving the city's coverage to the Mass Interlocal Insurance Association, an organization similar to the GIC.
While I wasn't successful in that election, I was appointed to a special task force by Mayor Bob Nunes to implement the plan.
After months of meetings, we were ultimately successful in getting 14 out of 15 unions to agree with the move, and we subsequently saved the city tens of millions of dollars while still providing quality health care coverage to our employees.
Health insurance increases continue to take up larger and larger percentages of municipalities' budgets. This squeezes out resources that could otherwise go towards public safety or education or even towards property tax decreases.
This points to a central challenge facing all our cities and towns. Simply put, they are limited by Prop 2 1/2 to increase property tax levies up to that cap.
However, health insurance and pension costs grow at a much faster rate. In response to this funding gap, municipalities have been cutting staffs, increasing and imposing new fees and/or proposing overrides. The current model is unsustainable.
While my opponent has been consistent in supporting new taxes and fees to finance these exploding expenses, I'll work to bring these costs under control.
I also support the proposal to have state retirees use Medicare as do the vast majority of non-state retirees in the Commonwealth."
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 think that would be a good start.
I think a better option would be to base the pension payout calculation over what was earned in salary and contributed over the lifetime of employment in the plan rather than only the top three years, which currently allows for manipulation.
A teacher or police officer or DPW employee who spends 30-odd years in the plan currently receives, at retirement, a pension that is largely self-funded.
However, today's process allows someone to apply years earned in appointed or volunteer part-time positions, or in much lower paying positions, toward a calculation based on only the top three years of earnings. In this case, the municipality or government entity, and ultimately we taxpayers, pick up a far greater percentage of the pension outlay.
We're looking at unfunded pension liabilities in the Commonwealth in the billions and if we don't act now, this cost will be irresponsibly passed along to our kids and our grandkids.
But again, our current leaders on Beacon Hill refuse to act to implement meaningful reform, and we taxpayers suffer as a result."
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?
"I do. I remember attending a meeting over 10 years ago where a well-known university president stressed how poorly incoming freshmen were prepared for the rigors of college. Both class time and tuition dollars were needed to be spent on math and English classes to get these kids up to a base level required to accomplish their regular coursework.
Fast forward to today. One of the few yet significant successes in state government has been the achievement scores of our kids compared with the rest of the country. So we as a community (parents, educators, government leaders and our school kids) have made great strides in creating an positive learning environment which increases the chances that our kids will be successful adults.
I am somewhat concerned with the Patrick administration's plan to gut the current system that's working for a watered-down federal plan. I see how this benefits both the Obama and Patrick administrations, but don't see how this helps our kids. I feel Gov. Patrick is putting simple party politics ahead of what's in the best long-term interest of our children and our future workforce."
Should the state Legislature be exempt from the state's public records law?
"Absolutely not. Despite House Speaker DeLeo's and Senate President Murray's recent election-year posturing that they are in favor of increasing transparency, recent actions suggest that Beacon Hill prefers to meet and act behind closed doors.
Think back only to July when selected members of the House and Senate met to try and cobble together a casino bill that would be palatable to the House, Senate and governor. It is outrageous that these meetings were neither open to the public nor available for broadcast.
We live in a technological age where videos are on demand on YouTube and where records and documents are readily available at the click of a mouse.
But try to find online how your current senator or state representative voted on any number of issues of the day. You can't, as this information isn't readily available.
I suspect this is for a reason. Our current corrupt culture on Beacon Hill prefers to operate in the shadows and is loath to think they should be accountable for their prior votes.
One of my first priorities once elected will be to establish an open, accessible database of roll call votes so that constituents can easily see how their elected officials vote on issues.
As a member of Taunton's city council, our votes are recorded in our weekly meeting minutes, which are posted on the Internet and our meetings are broadcast locally. And similar policies are in place in cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth.
It's simply outrageous that Beacon Hill feels they are above these simple measures of transparency and accountability."
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 disagreed with the bilateral support received by the Massachusetts health care insurance reform law enacted in 2006.
Governor candidate Tim Cahill is correct in saying it's bankrupting the state and the cost increases we're bearing in the state budget are totally unsustainable.
But, to go beyond your question, I think both Beacon Hill and Washington have to get beyond simple party bickering.
Yes, I'm an enrolled Republican and am running as such. And there are some who I am sure won't vote for me for that one reason.
But I'm also a husband and father. I hold an MBA. I have various work and life experiences that I think are underrepresented in politics, etc.
I am someone who votes the person rather than their party, and I absolutely appreciate there is good legislation proposed, and issues put forth, by Democrats, Republicans, and independents. Too often, it seems professional politicians are primarily concerned with who "wins" or "loses" on various issues rather than in concentrating on whether if it's good policy.
I've successfully worked with folks from different political beliefs and from different backgrounds in my 5 years as city councilor to arrive at what's in the best interest of the citizens of Taunton. I pledge to bring that pragmatism with me to Beacon Hill."
Will you make public any questionnaires you fill out in pursuit of the endorsement of unions or other groups?
"I will absolutely make public any questionnaires or surveys I've submitted and would sign any releases needed to make them public.
I think voters today have a healthy skepticism of professional politicians who simply tailor their message depending on their audience, and I believe I've been consistent in my responses and what I believe needs to be done to turn this state around."
Should the Legislature be subject to a full audit?
"Absolutely. Accountability and transparency should be paramount.
And, as senator I will gladly work with our state auditor, other state officials, and/or a professional audit firm on such a project.
Again, the fact that we currently do not have regularly scheduled audits of the Legislature speaks volumes as to the culture on Beacon Hill and the priorities of leadership."
Is the Legislature holding enough full formal sessions?
"It's not only that they do not hold enough formal sessions, it's that they so rarely accomplish anything of importance when they do meet.
Again, look at the session that recently ended and how they dealt with the topic of casino gambling. After 15 months, both chambers were in a frenzy to throw something together and ultimately even then couldn't arrive at something acceptable to Gov. Patrick.
Think back four years ago. Then-candidate Patrick and Democrats in the Legislature promised that by controlling both the governor's office and the Legislature, there would be no stopping them.
Well, from talking to voters this past year, that's what many of us are afraid of ... that there is no stopping them.
We really have to achieve some kind of checks and balances and bring sanity back to Beacon Hill."
Should there be term limits for the jobs of House Speaker and Senate President?
"In general, I'm not for term limits per se, but rather for open and contested elections.
In my race, my opponent has been on Beacon Hill for over 20 years. But it's not his fault that during many of those years, he ran uncontested.
I do think spending on elections is getting out of control and that money contributed can't help but influence members of the House and Senate in future votes.
I think Massachusetts could try to mimic the election process in Minnesota, where Senate and House candidates are prevented from raising and spending more than $15,000 on any single campaign.
This year, we are fortunate to have many seats being contested, but that hasn't always been the case in Massachusetts.
In the case of House Speaker and Senate President, I feel that perhaps 8 years would be a sufficient time period in that role. If such a limit is good enough for the President of the United States, I would think it would be good enough for these two positions.
They say absolute power corrupts absolutely and you only have to look at our last three former Speakers of the House to see that played out."