Four Democrats seek to fill the Second Suffolk and Middlesex state senate seat vacated by Steven Tolman. The special preliminary election will be held Tuesday, Dec. 13. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Patch asked all four candidates a set of questions, the same set, to find out more about them.
1 - What areas of the state budget could be altered to make it more efficient, and how?
Waste and inefficiency is marbled into state agencies. One has to attack the problems on a job-by-job basis, so the challenge really belongs to managers in the executive and judicial branch, not legislators. Legislators need to avoid tying the hands of managers, which we do, for example, in the judicial branch, limiting the flexibility of court managers to reorganize the system.
2 - How will you ensure you serve all the residents of the district, not just those from your hometown, or current district?
I will serve all of the district in the same diligent, hands-on, always-available way that I serve my current rep district. I will also move quickly to build working relationships with officials and active citizens in the new parts of the district.
3 - How would you encourage businesses to move into the district, and what kinds of businesses and development would you like to see come in?
I want to see our existing main street business areas across the district become more vital. I would disfavor big box retail development, although zoning decisions are primarily local. I will work closely with my constituents to respond to institutional expansion.
4 - How would you like to see public schools in Massachusetts improve?
We need to do a much better job differentiating instruction so that we can meet the unique needs of each child. In any given class, some kids are lost and some kids are bored. The lost kids eventually drop out. We need to find ways to keep them in the system. The bored kids seem to do OK, but we aren't realizing their potential. I think that new learning models that better use technology while preserving the mentoring role of teachers offer some attractive possibilities that we need to further explore.
5 - Tell us something about yourself that voters wouldn't know, but should know.
Between the end of the last legislative session at the end of July and the resumption of legislative activities after Labor Day, I rode a bicycle across the country, from Belmont to the Pacific, in 41 days. I rode much of the distance alone, carrying full camping gear. I got a lot closer to the land that I love and met kind people from all walks of life. I rode hard in some tough conditions, pushing myself to the limits of my endurance and finding reserves of strength and physical courage that I hadn't known for sure that I had. The trip also brought me closer to my wife and family — we stayed in touch each day that I had cell phone service and they were my emotional lifeline in desolate places.