Q. How would you have voted on the casino bill, and why?
A. I would have voted against it. Casinos are a bad idea for Massachusetts. They will hurt jobs, hurt families, and cause our taxes to rise without providing better services. No state has ever solved its budget problems with gambling revenues. Solving our budget problems will require fiscal responsibility, transparency, and accountability. These are my top priorities.
Q. Do you think local budgets are straining because they have to pay for health care and pensions for their public unions?
A. Local budgets, like the state budget, are at a tipping point that the taxpayer can no longer sustain. Health care costs, that have risen dramatically since passing mandatory Health Insurance, are not only crippling city and town budgets, but are killing small business owners, and over-taxed citizens as well. When you find business owners who have to lay off employees because they can no longer afford to provide the mandated coverage, and homeowners choosing between buying groceries, paying the mortgage or their health care bills, something is very wrong!
Q. What would you say to senior citizens who can't pay their property tax bill?
A. Property tax bills rise when local budgets cannot keep pace with revenues. A major source of these budgeting problems is Chapter 70 funding inequity (including many unfunded mandates). The taxpayers cannot, and should not continue to sustain the current system.
According to a recent report from the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officers (MASBO), the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents and Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC):
"The largest legislated program to fund public education, known commonly as the Chapter 70 funding system, does not cover in full the cost of mandates inherent in the law and regulations. The system remains essentially as it was at the start of the Education Reform program in 1993. The reimbursement formula has been modified somewhat and annual funding has increased significantly, but school districts have for many years had to budget for expenses that outstrip both the rate of inflation and the state's ability to grow state aid to education faster than the cost-of-living for schools."
We need to address this inequity as soon as possible. I intend to eliminate unnecessary unfunded mandates on cities and towns and to work to simplify and correct the system by which our tax dollars are returned to our communities.
Q. How would you grow jobs in the district?
A. I will begin by pushing for a repeal of the onerous taxes imposed on businesses and families over the last 2 years; the 25 percent sales tax increase and the $500,000,000 tax increase on businesses. I would also advocate for a tax incentive for small businesses that would lower the cost of hiring additional employees. I will also support the repeal of the anti-business Pacheco law to allow for fair competition when bidding on government contracts.
Q. Do you feel the anti-incumbency feeling is real? If so, do you think that will enhance your chances this fall?
I believe that the voters are most definitely looking for change. They recognize that politics as usual is not working. I also believe that the voters will take a serious look at challengers who are not part of the status quo. People are looking for new ideas from candidates with real-world business experience, not career politicians.
Q. What is the first thing you would do in the senate for the benefit of the district?
A. I have stated many times in the past that the first thing I want to do when elected is to submit legislation to put the State Checkbook online. They are spending the "People's Money" and "We The People" have a right to know where our money is going. By doing that, every dime that is spent will be available for the public to scrutinize. This will do two things:
First, it will put our elected officials on notice that their spending is finally being scrutinized. We will be able to ferret out waste and pork which will result in more efficient use of the people's money.
It will also provide an opportunity to anyone who would like to bid on a government contract for a particular service that currently is not put out for general bidding. In knowing how much we are currently spending on a particular service, a potential provider will be able to submit a more competitive bid. This, of course, will require the repeal of Pacheco.
Both of the above should begin to reduce government spending, benefiting not only the Third Middlesex District, but the entire state.
Q. You've been identified as a Tea Party person. Does that play to your favor in the district?
I believe so. The Tea Party represents a return to our founding principles and a Constitutional renaissance. It is about limited government that gets its power from the consent of the governed. As a co-founder of the Lowell Tea Party, I believe that this is the right message at the right time.
What the Tea Party has done, is to bring out citizens who are telling me that they can no longer sit on the sidelines and let our State go bankrupt, or let our country to be transformed into something less than what she should be. People are afraid for their future and the future of their children and grandchildren. They are angry that their "employees" (their elected officials) are unresponsive to the people who pay their salaries. I believe there will be much change this fall, and I believe that those who represent authentic change from the status quo will be given a chance to change the direction of this state and our country.
Q. What do you do in your spare time? What's on your iPod?
A. I really don't have much spare time. I have been campaigning full time, as well as being the primary care provider for my mother in law who came to live with us after her husband was killed in April of 2007 in a plane crash. After I brought her here from New York, we found out that she has Alzheimer's, and although we recently found her a wonderful safe place to live, there is still much I do for her.
My IPOD has close to 12,000 songs on it. I have everything from blues, jazz, Latin, and Irish to classical, rock to patriotic and everything in between. There are 71 "genres" in my library.