State Representative Candidates Discuss First Bill They Would File If Elected To Replace Chris Walsh

FRAMINGHAM – On Tuesday, September 4, the day after Labor Day, Framingham voters will participate in the state primary election.

Voters in Precinct 3, will see State Rep. Carmine Gentile on the Democratic ballot seeking re-election in the 13th Middlesex District. He has no Republican challenger.

Voters in Precincts 8, 13, 14, 16, 17, and 18, will see State Rep. Jack Patrick Lewis on the Democratic ballot seeking re-election in the 7th Middlesex District. He has no Republican challenger.

And voters in Precincts (not City Districts) 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 15 will see no names on any ballots.

With the death of State Rep. Chris Walsh in May there was not time for any candidate to gather signatures and appear on the ballot after his death. Thus, every candidate that wants the 6th Middlesex state representative seat must run a write-in campaign.

There are five candidates who have announced write-in campaigns – four Democrats and one Republican.

The Democrats are Mary Kate Feeney, Mike Gatlin, Maria Robinson, and Mark Tilden.

The Republican is Tom Blandford.

In Framingham, as in the state, the majority of registered voters are unenrolled, which means they have no party affiliation.

Unenrolled voters may choose a Democratic, Republican, or Libertarian ballot on Tuesday, Sept 4 and write in the candidate of their choice. The announced Democratic candidates are encouraging voters to pull a Democratic ballot and write their name, and the Republican candidate is encouraging unenrolled voters to pull a Republican ballot and write his name.

One of the jobs of a state representative is to file legislation and vote on legislation filed by other state representatives.

Framingham Source asked the five write-in candidates – What would be the first bill you would file if elected? Why?

Editor’s Note: The candidates were given 500 words or less for a response. The responses are published below, as received, unless they went over 500 words, and then the news site cut the answer at the sentence closest to 500 words.

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MARY KATE FEENEY: Community hospitals are a critical part of our state, providing quality care to our residents. It is important, as legislators, we work to ensure quality health care remains affordable for all. Framingham Union Hospital, part of the MetroWest Medical Center, is not only our community hospital, but the largest employer in Framingham.

It is the only hospital between Boston and Worcester with a fully equipped cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology lab, which provides immediate emergency care for heart
attack patients. In fact, the hospital received the American Heart Association Gold Plus award for STEMI care, meaning they consistently open blocked arteries in heart attack patients in under 90 minutes.

My first bill as a legislator would establish automatic statue renewal of funding for Framingham Union Hospital.

This legislation would guarantee funding for our community hospital year after year to continue to maintain a level of services for our residents and keep costs affordable.

This year the Legislature worked on “The Honorable Peter V. Kocot Act to Enhance Access to High Quality Affordable Transparent Healthcare in the Commonwealth” (H.4617), which included $337 million to support community hospitals, such as the MetroWest Medical Center.

The bill failed to pass the Legislature before the end of the session. With automatic statue renewal funding, our hospital could count on that funding each year and not have to wait until the end of the session to learn whether or not they would receive money.

This is a win for residents who depend on our hospital for care and for the hospital to continue its high standard.

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MIKE GATLIN: The first bill I would file would be to establish a universal pre-kindergarten program in the Commonwealth. Pre-K education is the foundation for all that follows.

Students who do not receive Pre-K education, underperform their peers who have had Pre-K education. Furthermore, the cost of Pre-K education would be offset by savings in areas such as Special Education, health consequences, general student performance, lower crime rates and other areas as well. Economists have identified that each dollar invested in Pre-K education results in a return of at least $7.

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MARIA ROBINSON: I would file a bill allowing for same-day voter registration and no-excuse absentee ballot provisions; this bill would include providing adequate resources to cities and towns to enact these changes, as additional personnel is necessary to implement these programs at the local level.

No-excuse absentee ballots should be a given in Massachusetts. While we saw a successful trial of early voting in the 2016 general election, no-excuse absentee will allow for more voters to participate in the democratic process. This is particularly important in municipal elections, where we have seen voter turnout at less than 10% in the recent past. Furthermore, there is wide disparity among city and town clerks as to what qualifies as a valid excuse for absentee voting. If we want more people to vote and be a part of our collective decision making, we should make it easy for people to go to city hall and pull an absentee ballot.
Similarly, same-day registration will allow for voters who do turn out to be able to participate. Just last year, my parents (who moved here from Pennsylvania) were turned away at the polls during the inaugural city elections because they missed the registration deadline by a few days; this is the first time they have ever missed the opportunity to vote, and they were heartbroken. I have had to similarly turn away voters when I have worked the polls in the past. Instead of turning interested voters away, we should be encouraging our residents to participate in this important civic duty, welcome them, and allow them to register that day.

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MARK TILDEN: To make Massachusetts a sanctuary state.

The immigrant population in Massachusetts adds vitality and economic strength to our communities. They work hard and pay taxes and deserve protection. Right now they are under siege. ICE agents have invaded our cities and towns taking mothers and fathers away from our families.

My bill would restrict law enforcement and court personnel from cooperating with ICE agents and informing on defendants. This harsh enforcement of minor immigration violations by Homeland Security is a cruel and cynical attempt by the Trump administration to appeal to its base.

Our national immigration policy is broken and Washington can’t fix it. Our residents shouldn’t suffer for this.

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TOM BLANDFORD: The first bill that I would file would be to get a non victimless crime immediately esponged from ones record because it only holds back those who did nothing toward another human being but still did a victimless crime, that usually effects poor people the most from moving up in society.

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

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