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Hanna's Education Corner

Hana Interviews State Senator Steve Baddour

What does it mean to be a State Senator?

In the entire state of Massachusetts, there are only forty of us. I represent about 170,000 people. It is exciting.

What is your day like?

My day is very hectic. I go to a lot of meetings. My day starts very early in the morning. I drive into Boston and meet with all kinds of different constituents. I chair the Transportation Committee, so I am in charge of overseeing all kinds of roads, bridges, and airports, like Logan Airport. It’s a lot of fun.
I’m also Vice-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, so I have oversight over all the judges in the courts. It’s an exciting job. There’s always something different every day. It’s something, hopefully, you will be some day.

I like politics. I am a class rep. in my school.

That’s how I started out. I was a class rep. and then I became president of my high school class. Then I went to college and got involved in government, and then I became a State Senator.

What towns do you represent?

I represent the city of Methuen, the city of Haverhill, Amesbury, Merrimack, North Andover, Salisbury, and Newburyport. 

What are some bills you like and dislike?

I like a lot of the bills that help protect kids like you. I’m involved with a lot of bills that will put those who try to harm kids behind bars. There’s a law that we just passed which will let us watch those who we know will harm kids and monitor them with a bracelet. There’s a satellite dish up in space that will follow them wherever they go. So if there is a place they are not supposed to go, like a park where children are, we will know about it and we can stop them. Some of the bills or laws I don’t like are those tax bills that try to take away different rights that you and I have. Especially living on a border community to New Hampshire, some of those laws and bills will negatively impact the business community in my district. So I have more bills that I like than I don’t like, but we always try to fight for bills that are important.

Do you support Governor Romney’s Death Penalty Bill?

I don’t, and I will tell you why. I would support the Death Penalty if there was a bill that was fool proof. The problem is, as a former prosecutor I have tried cases, and I have lost cases where I should have won and won cases that I probably should have lost. So until we have a system that is perfect, it is hard to punish somebody with the ultimate penalty of death. Now, what I am going to do is to substitute a bill because there aren’t enough votes to support this one. What I want to do here in Massachusetts is similar to what they do down south like Mississippi and Ohio. If you commit a certain kind of crime that is really heinous like murdering a police offer or a child, when those people go to jail we are going to make their lives in prison miserable. That means out of every twenty-four hours they spend twenty-three hours in their cells and only one-hour out of their cells. The way it is in Massachusetts right now they get cable TV and weight rooms and all kinds of perks. What I want to do is make it very difficult for prisoners if you are found guilty of committing the worst kinds of crimes.

The problem with the Governor’s bill is that it is so narrowly drawn and there are so few cases where the death penalty is used, that it really won’t ever happen. There are too many difficulties to try and make that work. What we have to do is really come up with a bill to punish people who commit really bad crimes.

Mom says State Senator Bruce Tarr was the only state official who attended North Andover Town Meeting. Why weren’t you there?

I have two little girls at home like you and it is very difficult to be out every single night of the week. So there are a couple of nights when you have to make the decision: do you stay home with the kids or do you leave them for another meeting? What would you want me to do?

I would want you to stay home.

Exactly. That’s what I have to do sometimes.

What are all the committees you sit on?

Like I said, I am Vice-chairman of the Judiciary Committee. I serve on the Post Audit Committee, which is an oversight committee. And I sit on a committee that you will like, called “Children and Families”. There are a few others, but those are the main ones.

Are you going to run again next year?

I hope so.

That’s not really an answer.

OK, fair enough. I plan on running next year; how’s that?

Are you going to run for State Senate or something else?

Well, right now I think I am running for State Senate. I don’t think I am running for anything else.

What do you want to accomplish?

We just started a new legislative session, so I filed a number of bills that deal with families and children, crime and transportation. What I want to do is focus on the local issues. As we go forward, we have to make sure our schools are properly funded and little girls like you have enough books. One of the big things that I always fight for is to make sure state government is being run efficiently. That means we have to make sure that our tax dollars are spent wisely. What I try to fight for is to eliminate the waste and inefficiencies in state government. I also try to work with Republicans as well as Democrats; I am not a partisan.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

I guess from a legislative position, we reformed the transportation system to make it more efficient, more responsive and it will save people in Massachusetts a lot of money. I also filed a bill with Attorney General Tom Reilly to help the environment. It’s been called the toughest environmental engagement law in the country.

Do you think North Andover gets enough money from the state for my school?

What school do you go to?

The Thomson.

That’s a good school. I think you can never get enough money for schools. We’re doing our best to make sure that they get their fair share of state money. What we need to do on the state level is to change or reform what is called the formula for education. That’s the way we give out state money. By changing the formula we can make sure North Andover gets more than their fair share of state money. Right now, the formula for education is not fair to communities like North Andover and a lot of money is going to communities like Lawrence and Haverhill. But North Andover needs more and I am trying to change the formula to make sure you get all you need for your school.

We are here at Billy Manzi’s fundraiser for Mayor of Methuen. Why do you think he should be Mayor?

Because I think he is the most qualified person in Methuen to be our mayor. He is very involved in the community; he is a family man; he is committed; and he has the experience. I really think he has the understanding to move Methuen forward.

Do you have any children?

I have two little girls, Isabella and Victoria. Isabella is three years old and Victoria is two years old.

I am taking the MCAS test this week, do you support MCAS and why?

I do support the MCAS and I support it for a number of reasons, but the most important is this: over the last ten years the state has invested billions of dollars in the education system and we need to make sure that little girls like you and your sister are graduating from school with the right knowledge and we can be sure that you are learning something. The only way to determine that is to make you take the test. It is very important that we have accountability in our education system.

My family are all Republicans, why aren’t you?

I’m a Democrat because I believe that government can play a positive role in people’s lives. And though most Republicans think less government is better and in some cases I agree with that, I am more of a moderate or a conservative Democrat. I agree a lot of the time with what the Republicans are saying, but overall I am a Democrat because I believe that government can make a positive difference in people’s lives.

(Hanna’s note: that’s not really an answer because Republicans want government to make a positive change in people’s lives too.)

What is your favorite book?

I don’t have time to read a lot of books with my schedule, but with my two girls I read a lot of children’s books. Maybe, The Cat in the Hat.

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