The passage H.B. 58, which raised pay for public officials during the most recent legislative session, was shameful. State legislators and members of the leadership are already paid well above the median income in the Commonwealth to work as a full time public servants. Any further pay increases are wasteful and insulting to taxpayers.
Massachusetts is home to some of the world’s most prestigious universities and research
institutions, while our technology sector makes up an increasing share of our economy. We
should leverage these assets by finding ways in which we can use
technology to help eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in our State Government. Open
source programs and a focus on harnessing data to improve government efficiency should
be a top priority.
Public Funding of Elections
Elections should be a contest of ideas – and money should not block individuals with good
ideas and a commitment to serve from stepping forward and running for office. Many of our
problems with government stem from a lack of good legislators who are accountable to their
communities. Citizens United crippled our democracy and continues to drown out
the voices of everyday people. At the state level, we should be doing everything we can to
bring people into the political process, and prevent corporate money from influencing our politics.
State Holiday for Elections
Election day should be marked as a celebration of civic engagement, and our state should do everything possible to make it easier for people to vote. An Election Day holiday allows for working men and women have the opportunity to vote, without fear of penalty from their employment.
Massachusetts is the only state in the country where the Governor’s office and members of the Legislature are exempt from laws requiring the release of public records. I support passing a law that amends this loophole and ensures that constituents can easily access the voting records of their representatives. Transparency is a cornerstone of our democracy.
Same Day Voter Registration
We should be making it as easy as possible for people to vote. Same day voter registration
will make it easier for individuals to exercise their civic rights as Americans.
Ranked Choice Voting
Ranked choice voting gives the voters the best way of getting the leaders they want and more choices in an election. It should be pursued in the Commonwealth.
Taxpayers expect their money to be spent wisely and in a manner that advances the public interest. We must make the current bidding process for state contracts more fair, transparent, and confirm they abide by a fiscal litmus test.
Quality of Life
Areas of Focus
Transit-oriented development should be a focus for the Upper Cape which straddles both worlds – as a suburb of Boston, a tourist hub, and as a unique geographic region which should be protected. Initiatives such as an expanded commuter rail would make access to higher paying jobs in Boston easier for residents. More stops for the Cape Flyer in Sandwich and West Barnstable brings spenders to our district and helps the local economy.
With the Bourne and Sagamore bridges nearing a century of use – the conversation about future of vital Cape infrastructure should be a priority. Crippling traffic & continual maintenance causes constant headaches for residents, and presents an impediment to regional economic growth. Given the large number of stakeholders implicated in this issue, we must engage all those involved to ensure we have a thoughtful discussion to move forward with this enormous issue which impacts our region’s future.
The 5th Barnstable District is a blend of different geographical regions, and as a result has a complex economy. There is a large commuter population with many working in Boston Metropolitan area, as well as a significant seasonal economy. Small businesses are the cornerstone of our local economy, policies should be implemented to foster their creation and make the cost of doing business easier.
Housing is one of the single greatest issues affecting people’s quality of life in the 5th Barnstable District. Workforce housing is scarce, year-round rentals are scarce, and rents are tremendously expensive. We need demographic vitality in order to move our communities into the future and so we are going to need to be innovative in addressing these crucial issues impacting our towns.
Every developed economy in the world has some form of single-payer system to distribute services in a cost-effective manner, and they typically cover all of their citizens at nearly half the price exacted in the United States. In the name of efficiency, economic impact, and improved outcomes this approach should be immediately instituted. We should be looking for results, not rhetoric. The vast aggregations of data do not lie – this is the only way forward. It should be pursued with vigor.
Support for our seniors.
The cost of living, high property taxes, lack of affordable housing, geographical isolation, and lack of public transit create unique challenges for the seniors in our community – especially those who are living on a fixed income. We must ensure that their issues are properly addressed so that their quality of life receives the dignity they deserve.
The cost of childcare is rising at an unsustainable rate and there is a lack of affordable options in our area for our young and working families. The projected birth rate for the Cape and Islands is much higher than the national average and our population is set to expand markedly in the next 5-10 years. We must ensure that there are a range of affordable options in the region as we plan for the future.
Small Business Support
Small businesses are the bedrock of our local economy, and we must foster an environment that enables their success. Regional economic development with a focus on small businesses is paramount. We need more bottom-up deductions and must work with our local & community banks to help increase access to credit.
Municipal broadband has been shown to offer better service at lower rates in many communities and can be a catalyst for economic development. Chattanooga, TN is a prime example of a location which has implemented this model and has since become a magnet for the tech industry due to the reliability and affordability of their broadband network. Conversations are currently underway in this area and should be continue with greater community involvement.
While overall statewide numbers have slightly improved with regards to overdose deaths – our region continues to be among the worst affected in the Commonwealth. We need results, not rhetoric. Given that this is a tremendously complex issue, it is understandable that many well intentioned initiatives have been fractured or incomplete. Much more can be done, and we must begin an earnest conversation within our communities with how to address this crisis.
Education is an investment. If people are accepted to a state college or university, we should be making it so our young people are not burdened with unsustainable student debt upon graduation. This phenomenon where many young people can owe six figures in student debt affects everyone in our society and MA residents should have access to an affordable education so they can begin their lives.
We should seek the designation of the Sandwich Marina as a “Destination Marina” which encourages recreational boaters to stay in select coastal destinations in the Commonwealth. This may make us eligible for state funding to assist with an expansion which is long overdue. Sandwich is perfectly situated for visiting boat traffic and has the historic and cultural attractions to entice mariners from all over. This will only serve to benefit local businesses and the overall desirability of the town.
I Believe In A Sustainable Future
Areas of Focus
State government has an enormous role to play in addressing this issue as it helps to protect a region whose environmental health impacts a tourism-based economy which generates a significant portion of state tax revenues. In tandem with the 208 plan, we must focus our efforts to direct resources to address these challenges on a watershed by watershed basis. Legislation must be pursued which will enable wastewater friendly technology to be incentivized in new home construction – and for those who are making modifications to their existing septic systems.
Beach Erosion Control
MA is a state which is defined by our coastal geography, and we are tremendously vulnerable to erosion due to winter storms and increasingly rising sea levels. We do not currently have a beach nourishment strategy. In areas where erosion is due to human involvement, the government has a role in mitigating negative impacts. Town Neck Beach in Sandwich is a prime example.
Climate Change Mitigation
We need to be doing everything we can to combat the effects of climate change as our Commonwealth stands to be among the areas most impacted by its negative effects. The Gulf of Maine is among the fastest warming bodies of water in the country and our coastal communities are tremendously vulnerable to rising seas and more powerful storms.
We should be making it easier for power consumers to have more local control over the energy which they consume. Bolstering municipal power companies would financially benefit energy consumers and make it easier for small scale renewable projects to send clean energy to the grid. We must lift the net metering cap and incentivize renewable projects across the Commonwealth.
Combatting Plastic Pollution
Scientists project that by 2050, there may be more plastics than fish in our oceans. Broken down over time, microplastics from our waste get into the food web and eventually into the seafood which we consume. Single-use plastics choke our roadways, beaches, and public spaces. The extent of this problem is vastly understated and the utility of these products are outweighed by the long-term damage they cause to our environment. Massachusetts could be a leader in terms of reducing our planetary footprint. In the short term, we should look to increased incentives for recycling of all plastic products while in the long-term we move towards suitable alternatives.
As many saw with the recent “bomb cyclone” – our region is extremely vulnerable to coastal flooding. We witnessed a record storm surge which caused flood damage throughout the Cape and Islands. If the current climate modeling holds true – things will only get worse in the decades to come. While we have been fortunate in recent years, one hurricane could decimate our region which is heavily reliant on summer tourists. A risk assessment conducted by the “Center for Coastal Studies” should be carried out and we should seek state funds to assist in implementing their recommendations to safeguard our communities.
State Budget Priority
At present, we only dedicate .05% of the state budget to environmental protection. We should make a commitment to increase this share to 1% of the overall state budget. There is significant return on investment in doing so, and our communities would stand to reap the benefits given that our region’s economic health is directly connected to its environmental health.