Run For Reelection
Congratulations on your baby, Ella Mae. How do you feel?
Great. Great. Nothing could be better. Shes a peach. She definitely doesnt look like her sister because she has black hair. My other daughter has red hair. Its great. Its a labor of love.
What exactly does a state representative do?
A state rep tries to help people, tries to move society forward and to make a better society. What we physically do is we vote on laws. We also help people out with constituent services. We try to make our towns better. I represent part of Lawrence, Andover and Tewksbury.
What is your day like?
Normally, I wake up at about 5:30 a.m. and go to the gym. I come into my office here in Andover two to three times a week. I am in Boston when we are in session or for a hearing. I am very busy at night. I am out almost every day of the night. Not on Fridays, but every other night of the week I am out doing something.
How long have you been a state rep.?
Five terms since 1997. Its been a long time. Ive been in office almost as long as youve been alive. I was in office when Tom [Duggan] was in office on the Lawrence School Committee.
What are some of the bills you have sponsored?
Well, the Baby Safe Haven bill is one you know about (Hannas note: I have no idea what that is.). One of the things I have been actively involved with is you know when you go the gas station and you put gas in your car?
Some day you will be able to put hydrogen into your car instead of gas because we cannot keep going on gasoline forever. I am also interested in stem cell research. God forbid someday you get very sick. Stem cell research basically uses your own body to find out what diseases you can prevent. In Lawrence, right now, we have drug-free school zones and I want to expand that to youth centers. We are also trying to build a new off ramp from Rte. 93 so we can create more jobs. It is between Exit 41 and 42. There is a huge problem trying to get traffic in and out of there.
What are some of the bills you do not support?
I was very much against the whole tax on capital gains and how it was retroactive. It basically said you dont have to pay capital gains taxes and then suddenly we changed the rules afterward and said you are going to have to pay back-taxes on it. I was very much against that; it hurts businesses.
What are some of the committees you sit on?
I sit on Ways and Means; it helps me to bring more money home. We have a $25 billion budget that we have to take care of.
Are you going to run again next year?
Well, good luck.
When Marcos Devers was running for mayor, he and the Democrats had a rally in Lawrence. Why didnt you attend?
Thats kind of a tough question, but it was because Mike Sullivan is my friend ...
You know that they are all mad at you for that.
Well, you know, sometimes things come before political parties. I am very close to the Sullivans. Kevin has been very good to me. Kevin and I did a lot to help the city. I like Marcos a lot, but Mike has stayed out of my races and I just decided to stay out of his race. Its a local race and Im not sure its helpful for a state rep to get involved in a local race.
What is your greatest accomplishment so far?
Well, the Baby Safe Haven bill was one. I really think Lawrence is a lot better off than when I started. I think the fact that home prices have gone up the way they have and the fact that crime is down significantly are really important. The way we have a lot of economic investment in the city is really great and the fact that we are building new schools all shows that the city is much better off than when I started in 1997. There is still a lot to do and we have a long way to go, but Lawrence is definitely improving and thats a good thing.
What do you still want to accomplish?
Well, I think one of the things I am concerned about in general is that we used to be a really great state to come and do business in. Now we have to figure out what is going on, why people are leaving our state. We have to give incentives for businesses to come and stay here. We have to constantly find new ways to help businesses and stop them from leaving. Massachusetts is a great state, but we have to do more and do better.
With Governor Romney not running for reelection, who do you think the next governor will be?
I dont know. I think its Tom Reillys to lose. I havent decided whom Im going to support, yet. Its Reillys to lose. I think Christy Mihos will be tough if he gets into the race. I think Kerry Healey will be tough. I wouldnt be surprised if someone like Joe Kennedy gets into the race because its as wide open as a runway at Logan Airport right now.
Do you Support MCAS?
I think it is an effective tool to find out how our students are progressing. But I do think that there are cases of kids who are mentally challenged and MCAS shouldnt be a reason for them not to graduate.
I know there is one kid who tried to pass MCAS five or six times and I know he is probably going to wash dishes and hell probably be really good at that, but should he not get a high school degree? There have to be other ways to judge. I think there is more to high school than just tests.
My family are all Republicans, why arent you?
Im probably the least partisan guy you will ever meet. My theory in that politics should be out of your bedroom and out of your lives.
I believe government should stay out of your bedroom. I support gay marriage. I have no problem with that. I support abortion. I am pro choice and I support all forms of stem cell research. But Im one of the most fiscally conservative guys you will meet. I dont think government needs to tell us what to do. I dont support big government. I think it is big government when it tells you whom you can marry and whom you cant marry, what you can do to your body, etc. Thats why at the end of the day I am a Democrat. But if there is a good idea by a Republican, I am happy to support it.
What is your favorite book?
When I was a kid it was Bravest of Them All. It was about a small boy who helped out someone in a fire. A good book I read lately was by Steve Jobs, Icon. Its about a guy who rises up and gets knocked down and then gets back up again. Jobs invented Apple computers and the Ipod. I read a lot of self-motivation books; Im really into that. I like to read about leadership styles. I like David Gergen books; I like him a lot.
Do you think towns like Andover and North Andover get their fair share of state money for schools?
Why, and what are you going to do about it?
Unlike the federal government, we have a balanced budget requirement. We cant borrow our future away. You know, if you ask me: What are my three biggest concerns about this country? The first is continuing to let Asia finance us. What we are saying to other countries is that we cant afford what we are doing, so we are going to mortgage our future. And you are going to pay to operate our country because we cant balance our budget. Number two would be to finance our responsibility to Social Security and pensions, and nobody will live up to that.
Third is the oil situation. I dont criticize anyone who has an SUV. I dont criticize anybody, but everyone in their own way has to find a way to solve the energy problem. Like Ive said before many times, you cant be 5% of the worlds population and consume 25% of the worlds oil. We go through 25 billion barrels of oil a year and when you see a $10 per barrel spike in oil prices, that means $250 billion are going overseas and 75% of that goes to the Middle East. That money is then helping to fund terrorism to be used against us.
So you support drilling in ANWR (Alaska)?
I didnt say that! I think with hybrid cars and technology we can certainly do better. I dont know much about the wind farms on the Cape, though. I dont know enough about them.
You were recently a principal for the day at Lawrence High. What was your day like and what did you learn?
Lawrence High was great and the kids were great. People dont understand how these educators in Lawrence work. They work very hard and they have a tough job. And I dont think people understand how these kids work, too. Some of them go to school all day and then they go off to work to support their family.
They are great kids; they have so much energy. I love being around young people. You know, I used to coach football and I wish I had more of an opportunity to work with young people. They have so much energy. They are so alive.
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