Four Democratic party candidates for 30th Middlesex District Representative faced off in a forum at Woburn High School on May 23. The district is composed of wards two through six in Woburn and precincts two through five in Reading. The current representative, Jim Dwyer of Woburn, announced earlier this year that he would not be seeking re-election to the seat. Participating in the forum were candidates Anne Landry of Reading, Richard Haggerty of Woburn, Joe Demers of Woburn, and Darryn Remillard of Woburn. The forum was sponsored by the Woburn Democratic City Committee and was moderated by Tom Zuppa of the Lowell Sun.
Anne Landry is a Reading resident who, if elected, promises to be a full-time representative. She is currently chief counsel to State Senator William Brownsberger and stressed her decade of experience in public service. If elected, she stated her first bill would be to provide for the paid family and medical leave in the commonwealth. Landry shared that she would speak with constituents before deciding about state-sponsored sports betting, though expressed concern regarding what consequences such betting would have on those who are less fortunate. She believes that the high salaries of some public university officials should be looked at and this could be a place the state could save money or pass the savings along to families seeking to afford college for their children.
Landry expressed that state legislators should be banned from entering into non-disclosure agreements in harassment cases and that an independent oversight body should be established to investigate harassment claims in state government. She uses the commuter rail to get to work daily and believes that there should be greater investment in public transportation. Landry supports the Safe Communities Act and believes that it is “important for local law enforcement to have the trust of the community.” She listed integrity as the most important quality to hold public office and gives Governor Charlie Baker a “B-“ for his performance in office. Landry believes that the creation of safety nets for those who lack resources is one things that can be done to address the needs of the growing senior population.
Richard Haggerty is the Woburn City Council president and has served on the council for over ten years. He is a life-long resident of Woburn whose first bill would help municipalities address the opioid crisis, funding more beds for recovery and reducing the number of pills made available through prescriptions. He pledges to be a full-time legislator who agrees conceptually with sports betting, though voting for it would depend on the actual bill determining where the funds were to be distributed. He believes that there should be a review of the state budget to eliminate redundant services to save money and expressed concern about spending on new stadiums and libraries at public universities.
Haggerty believes that the House should have done more to support victims of harassment in the State House but does not believe that representatives should be barred from non-disclosure agreements. He supports the creation of a connection from the Anderson Transportation Center to the commercial areas of Woburn and thinks that the Mishawum Station should be brought back on-line. Speaking about the MBTA Haggerty stated, “We also need infrastructure investment for reliability.” Haggerty does not support the Safe Communities Act because of the barriers it creates between local and federal law enforcement. He also stated that he believes that immigration is a federal issue that cannot be solved on the local level. Haggerty, who believes that character is the most important quality for a public office holder to have, gives Governor Charlie Baker a performance grade of “B+.”
Joe Demers is a member of the Woburn School Committee and an aide to current representative Jim Dwyer. A life-long resident of Woburn, Demers stated that his first bill would be an education reform bill that adopts the Foundation Budget Review recommendations that would recalculate the formula for state education aid. The bill would increase the amount of money available to towns for education and would also review the number of unfunded mandates the state requires of school districts. Demers, who emphasized his legislative experience, believes the state should develop a commission for sports betting similar to the Gaming Commission, stating that sports betting could bring close to $60 million annually to the state budget. Demers believes that an examination of potentially archaic tax credits could increase funding to the state budget as well. He believes that the state should roll back payments in lieu of taxes for hospitals and private universities to help defray the cost of public university education.
“Sunshine is the best disinfectant.” Demers quipped when asked about whether or not legislators should be banned from non-disclosure agreements, but he also stated that the wishes of the victims of harassment need to be considered. He was “appalled” at how harassment claims in the State House have been handled. Demers believes that the entire public transportation system needs a comprehensive review so that he can advocate for additional options. He does not support the Safe Communities Act because of the prohibition of agreements with federal law enforcement agencies. Demers gives Governor Charlie Baker a grade of “B” for his performance in the state’s highest office. Stating that the waiting list for subsidized state housing for seniors is seven years long, He expressed the opinion that housing is the most important challenge to address for the growing senior population. Demers believes that honesty, integrity, and character are the most important qualities for a holder of public office.
Darryn Remillard is a former member of the U.S. Marine Corps who served in Iraq. He is a local veterinarian who stressed his business background and history of service. If elected, he would maintain his veterinary practice part-time because he believes it is his calling and his passion as well as citing his “enormous” student loan debt. His first bill would be the SAFE Act, seeking to create penalties for owners of weapons who fail to secure them properly. He supports state-sponsored sports betting as having “no distinction from the current framework.” He believes that there is waste in the corrections budget that could be trimmed as a source of budget savings. Remillard believes that reductions in the state income tax have been a mistake and that taxes should be raised to help support state college education. He stated that the public expects a high degree of accountability from its representatives and that those representatives should be barred from non-disclosure agreements.
Citing a $7 billion to $8 billion MBTA maintenance backlog, Remillard believes that public transportation is chronically under-funded, and Massachusetts should move toward electrification of the entire system. He supports the Safe Communities Act. Remillard was the only candidate who does not believe that large non-profits such as hospitals should pay property taxes. He gives Governor Charlie Baker a “D” for his performance. When asked about the most important qualities to hold public office, he reverted to his Marine Corps code of honor, courage, commitment. He also favors a state luxury property tax for unoccupied properties valued at over $2 million to help address challenges facing senior citizens.
All four candidates encouraged voters to get out to the polls for the state primary election the day after Labor Day, Tuesday, September 4.
Coverage provided by Woburn Public Media