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In their own words: Framingham Dems in Sept. 14 primary

Posted by Megan McKee  August 26, 2010 01:50 PM

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Chris Walsh is challenging Pam Richardson for the Democratic ticket for the 6th Middlesex state representatives seat in Sept. 14's primary election. Below, both candidates explain their backgrounds and positions in their own words.

Richardson.jpgName: Pam Richardson
Age: 40
Town: Framingham
Family status: Married with two children
Occupation: Full time legislator

Political and civic experience:
I was first elected State Representative of the 6th Middlesex District in November 2006. During the time I have served as State Representative, I have worked on many committees including Housing, Children and Families, Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Municipalities and Regional Government, Steering and Policy and Post Audit and Oversight. I was also appointed to the After School and Out of School Time Commission. Prior to serving as State Representative, I was Vice-Chair of the Framingham School Committee and was a member of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees Board of Directors.

What qualifies you for the office you seek?
I have served as State Representative for the 6th Middlesex District for the past four years. I have been successful in key areas of business growth and increasing funding for our public schools, public safety and senior citizen programming.
My past work as an elected School Committee member and my current experience as State Representative have given me the ability to be a strong leader for the community and effective advocate for Framingham at the State Level.

What are the two most important issues in the Commonwealth and how would you address them?
Creating Jobs and Building our Economy is the most pressing issue in the Commonwealth. This session we passed legislation to overhaul the state’s network of business development agencies and establish a streamlined model which will lead to a more business-friendly environment that will help small businesses open, expand and create jobs. I continued to work with the town to obtain grant monies for infrastructure improvements allowing businesses to expand in Framingham. I fought to reduce the cost of health insurance for small businesses so that they are better able to grow and add jobs. I plan to continue to work on these critical issues while focusing on growth in Framingham’s Creative Economy and increasing workforce training and investment in our public schools to insure a strong future for the Commonwealth.

Another important issue facing the Commonwealth is the need to reform and streamline state government so it works more efficiently for taxpayers. We passed several reform bills in 2009 which led to elimination of the Turnpike Authority and abolishing the “23 and out” rule for MBTA workers, closed loopholes in our pension system and eliminated the worst offenses which will result in significant taxpayer savings. We also strengthened our ethics, lobbying and campaign finance laws. However there is still work to do and I will continue to push for more efficiency, accountability and transparency.

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chrisWalsh.jpgName: Chris Walsh
Age: 59
Town: Framingham
Family status: Married – 2 Children
Occupation: Architect registered in MA, NH & RI

Political and civic experience:

Associations
American Institute of Architects
National Council of Architectural Boards
Central Massachusetts American Institute of Architects- Current President
Massachusetts AIA Legislative Affairs Committee
MetroWest Leadership Academy – Class of ‘92 Alumni Board Member
Framingham Democratic Town Committee
MetroWest Chamber of Commerce

Community
Framingham Public Library Trustee
Amazing Things Arts Center – Board Member
Framingham Town Meeting, First elected in 1992: Ways and Means Committee, Government Study Committee, Planning and Zoning committee, Capital Budget Committee
Historic District Commission (Chair)
Framingham Preservation Trust (Founding Member)
Downtown Rail Crossing Committee
Open Space Committee
Historic Reuse Committee
Framingham Historical Society, Past President
Framingham Improvement Association, past Board member
Framingham Civic League, past Board Member
Framingham Charrette 1997 (Founding Member)

Recognized in 1998 by the Framingham Historic Commission for “outstanding contributions to the Historic Preservation Movement in Framingham”

What qualifies you for the office you seek?
I have been involved in the civic life of Framingham at many different levels for 20 years. In these capacities I have had the opportunity to work on issues that are critical both to the functioning of a good government and to the qualities that are important for creating a high standard of community life. As an architect (and because I have lived in many different types of communities) it is my business to pay attention to the difference between successful communities and those in disarray; these differences can be subtle but have huge consequences in resident’s lives. The skill set that an architect develops is a mix of envisioning change and the pragmatic problem solving skills necessary to bring that change into reality.

What are the two most important issues in the Commonwealth and how would you address them?

Job creation and retention are critical and intractable problems throughout the Commonwealth. The MetroWest is the second largest economy in the state with a 11 billion dollar payroll and 180,000 jobs. Comparatively we have good job retention and Framingham in particular is a net jobs importer (more jobs than people). What we don’t have is an even distribution of jobs across all the employment sectors (MetroWest Economic Research Center’s 2010 report). One job sector that is lagging is hospitality and arts. Redevelopment of our older urban areas into places that cater to arts and hospitality businesses would round out a multi-tiered economic picture and create a broad jobs base. By working with the State economic development office and using funds collected by the new MetrtoWest Tourist Bureau (a platform in my 2008 campaign) to create specialized economic zones, target existing brownfield sites (CSX yard) with programs that will attract private redevelopment which will fuel smaller projects in the existing infrastructure

The second issue facing the entire Commonwealth is the pressure, both economic and social, that the middle class is under. The wealthiest Americans have excelled at shielding themselves and their money – often paying less tax than middle income families.

On the other end of the political spectrum, there is a continual expansion of the legal boundaries of laws and programs under a civil rights umbrella which are mandated but not funded. Between these two extreme poles the middle class is funding more while receiving fewer services, making it increasingly difficult to stay afloat. As a State Representative I will insist that programs mandated by the state have both an economic impact assessment and a budget proposal. Promises to fund the “special education circuit breaker” or removal of the turnpike tolls must be honored or fair alternatives offered. Binding legislation such as the collective bargaining agreement ( Section 19 of Chapter 32B MGL) have, over time, created unsustainable economic straitjackets in affected communities and I will work to build a level of flexibility and common sense into legislation that will allow municipalities to cope with the particular circumstances of their community.

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