By Barbara Van Reed
Barely a dozen local businesses showed up last week at the State Candidates Meet & Greet hosted by Harrington Health Care at Hubbard and sponsored by the Webster-Dudley-Oxford Chamber of Commerce. The event was free, open to the public, and featured a beautiful breakfast buffet. More importantly, it gave businesses an opportunity to talk with the persons who will directly represent us in the state house next year. I wonder why more people didn’t show up.
Harrington HealthCare System President and CEO Ed Moore welcomed the candidates and attendees. The candidates were given five minutes to introduce themselves and talk about their legislative goals.
First up was Peter J. Durant (R-Spencer), incumbent in the 6th Worcester Congressional District, which will include Dudley, Southbridge, and precincts in Charlton and Spencer. He introduced himself as the fourth newest member of the state’s House of Representatives, and reminded the audience that he was elected in May 2011 by just one vote. Mr. Durant read some of the letters he said he receives on a regular basis from people who have lost their jobs after working for years, and are now having to apply for government assistance for the first time.
“If you've ever wondered what this election is about, you should read the messages I get and listen to my voice mail,” he said. “They implore me to help them find a job. It tugs at you. But here’s the rub. Government does not do that. It’s the private sector that provides the jobs. It’s the role of government to foster that type of atmosphere where such jobs are created.”
Mr. Durant’s challenger in the district is Kathleen Walker, currently a selectman in Charlton. She was unable to attend the function due to an obligation at the State House.
The two challengers in the newly drawn 18th Worcester District, incumbent Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton) and Donald Bourque, were both present. The district will include Webster, Douglas, Sutton, and two precincts in Oxford. Mr. Fattman talked about how, at 21-years old, he became a selectman in Sutton and served on that board for five years. He said he saw firsthand how his mother and sister struggled to set up businesses and “I did not see the legislature doing anything to help.” He then ran for state representative, two years ago, with the goal of “reforming things, to make things better.”
Mr. Fattman also talked about his role in passing a stricter EBT card system, ending abuses such as use of the cards for gambling or for purchasing things such as alcohol, guns or jewelry. And there’s more work to be done on that, he said.
Challenger Don Bourque, who is chairman of the Webster Board of Selectmen, told the audience why he decided to run for state representative. “We had an election in 2010 and we elected a new state representative. But, unfortunately, we haven’t had a lot of representation in the district at all. It’s important to have someone representing us on a daily basis. I live here in Webster and have a business here.”
Mr. Bourque described how a few years ago, not everyone in Webster was getting the same treatment and the selectmen were constantly bickering. Today, driving through Webster you can see how things have improved, with new businesses and new building projects underway. The Board has “turned on the street lights and has worked to make North Village safer.” We selectmen all have the same goal now, he said, to make Webster a strong community. “That’s what I’ll bring to the state house.”
Representative Paul Frost (R-Auburn), incumbent in the 7th District, which includes two precincts in Oxford, Auburn, and Millbury, is unchallenged in the November election. He talked about his 16 years in the state house. He was first elected in 1996 at age 26, and has not missed a vote in all those years. “I try to be there every day, to make sure my voice, and my district, is heard.”
“Our businesses are not ATM cards,” he told the business audience. “We put more regulations on them, have them pay for everything, and still expect them to create jobs and give people benefits.” Mr. Frost also talked about the impact of a more balanced representation of power since the 2010 election, which doubled the Republican number in the House of Representatives from 16 to 32, now providing an eighty-twenty ratio of Democrats to Republicans. “A two-party government means you have more of a balance.” The previous ninety-ten ratio was bad, he said. “Eighty-twenty is better, but it’s still not good.” Still, it has resulted in a change of focus on Beacon Hill, he observed. “Before 2010, Republican ideas would be kicked off to a study, but now those issues are getting debated. We have a good exchange of healthy discussion.”
State Senator Richard T. Moore, also unopposed, was unable to attend the meeting, but addressed the audience via a letter, read by Chamber President Cheri MacKinney.
It was unfortunate so few people were able to attend the Meet & Greet. We hope there will be more opportunities for the public to listen to the candidates, preferably in a debate, the best forum for learning each candidate's position on the issues. We hope the campaigns will go forward with a debate, and that people will come and listen.
- Friday, 28 September 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Letter From the Editor