Auburn selectman Stephen R. Simonian, republican, is taking on incumbent state Sen. Michael O. Moore, D-Millbury, in the race for the second Worcester district, which includes Shrewsbury and Grafton.
Patch asked both candidates identical questions:
What are your three biggest issues?
Sen. Moore: My first priority is job growth. While our economic recovery has been slow and steady, there are still far too many people out of work or underpaid. I was proud to play a role in passing the recent jobs bill, passed and signed into law earlier this year. This legislation makes a number of critical changes to promote job growth, from tax relief for small businesses to workforce development training.
As we closely monitor the effects of these changes, one of the areas that I see
the greatest need is for small business growth. I’ve worked with business
leaders and organizations throughout the state to identify and address barriers
to business growth, including: resolving the “fair share” health care contribution
problem, creating an alternative lending program through the Blackstone Valley
Chamber of Commerce, and assisting returning veterans with veteran-owned
business development. For these efforts, I’ve been recognized by the National
Federation of Independent Business, the Restaurant and Business Alliance, the
Associated Industries of MA, and many more.
My second priority is tax relief for middle class families, specifically lowering
the sales tax. Over the last four years, I’ve been proud to stand with working
families in voting against an increase in the income tax, against an increase in
the gas tax, in favor of repealing the alcohol tax, among others. Moving forward, I believe we must only ask from our citizens the revenue needed to maintain essential state functions. With that said, I’d like to establish a Commission to study the effects of decreasing the sales tax, including what cuts would have to be made, identifying and erasing bureaucracy and inefficiency, and how best to plan for returning $1 billion to the taxpayers.
Finally, I am focused on making higher education more accessible and affordable for my constituents. Too often, students leave college with an enormous debt burden. Public higher education, including state universities and community colleges, can play a pivotal role in giving the next generation the opportunity and skills they need to succeed. As the chair of the Higher Education Committee, I also want to continue leveraging private and public partnerships to better prepare college students to enter the workforce.
Jobs/Economy – I’ve talked to hundreds of small business owners who are struggling to stay afloat in the state due to the high taxes, over regulation, and cost of healthcare and other benefits. We need to work with the small businesses to help them. Most of the small business owners have enough work to hire people, but they cannot afford to put additional people on the payroll. They are also worried about an unstable future. Legislation my opponent has supported has crippled small businesses.
Education: Education is the cornerstone of the economy in Massachusetts. There is no question that the State needs to support more efficient and effective educational initiatives, including performance based contracts, more access to the highest levels of technology, and more partnerships with private sector business, colleges and universities.
Senior Citizens and Veterans: So many of our senior citizens and veterans that I have talked to are forced to jump through hoops to be provided with basic health care and benefits. In many cases they face daunting mountains of red tape and bureaucracy. At the same time, legislators such as my opponent continue to encourage illegal immigration by making the same types of benefits our senior citizens and veterans are fighting to obtain, readily available for illegal immigrants. My opponent has also voted against tax breaks for low income seniors, citing that we cannot afford it as the reason, yet he feels we can continue to fund the broken model of people like him taking more from the pension system that they paid into it.
Where will your efforts be spent in these last few days?
Sen. Moore: The final few days of this election will mirror the previous 9 months of campaigning: spending as much time as possible with local residents, attending community organization meetings, door knocking, encouraging people to vote, et al. I never take anything for granted, especially the privilege of serving the people of Shrewsbury and the Second Worcester District. I give everything 110 percent, whether it’s representing the needs and concerns of my constituents on Beacon Hill, helping local residents with specific problems, advocating for municipal local aid and funding requests, and much more.
Simonian: I will continue door knocking right up until the end. There are a few remaining neighborhoods I have not completed, and plan to do so in the final days leading up to the election.
How has the support been for this campaign?
I’ve been truly fortunate to receive such enthusiastic support from my
constituents. I firmly believe in being as accessible and available as possible,
and that means spending all of my free time out in the community. That’s my
job, to be there for residents when they need me, to listen first before taking
action, to take every single concern seriously. And I think people respond to that, knowing that I’m working around the clock for them. As a result, I’ve received more positive feedback and vocal support than ever before.
Simonian: After eight months and 19,000 doors, I can tell you that the support has been incredible. It has been like a locomotive going over a hill. At first things were slow, as my committee and I worked hard to get my message out there, and as I achieved more name recognition we got over the hump, and things just began to roll. The positive responses continued to grow, the number of people volunteers increased, and folks all over the district just continued to climb aboard. In the last few weeks before the election we have had so many sign requests, we were going out at night to keep up.