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FRAMINGHAM – On Tuesday. September 6 voters will decide between three Democrats to be the 6th Middlesex District’s state representative.

Voters in newly-created City of Framingham Precincts 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-10-11-12-13-14-15-16, and part of precinct 9 are part of the new 6th Middlesex District.

There are three candidates — former mayoral candidate Dhruba Sen, former District 7 City Councilor Margareth Shepard, and School Committee Chair Priscila Sousa.

SOURCE asked all three a series of questions last week. One of the questions focused on the cost of living in Framingham. Each candidate was allowed up to 500 words to discuss the issue.

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QUESTION: Many households in the Commonwealth and the City of Framingham are living paycheck to paycheck. How can you make Massachusetts affordable? Be specific on bills already filed that you would support or bills you would author.

SOUSA: As I’ve knocked nearly 4000 doors in the district, the one issue I hear more often than traffic is affordability. Families who have built our city and have been staples in our community are being priced out because of the high cost of living in the Commonwealth.

As the only candidate endorsed by the Massachusetts AFL-CIO and several other trade unions, I hear the concerns of our workforce. They’re concerned about what’s going to happen if the jobs they rely on are taken away when cost of living is constantly rising. People who work hard in this community should not be afraid of any of that. I believe that anybody who works hard should have the ability to provide for their family, keep a roof over their head, put food on the table, and work in a safe environment. It’s as simple as that.

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As a legislator I support first and foremost my constituents’ right to protect their paychecks by supporting their right to organize. Issues like runaway CEO pay sound like hot button issues on a state and federal level but the truth is it is affecting the ability of our neighbors to stay in their houses. Measures like the Fair Share Amendment ensure our workers are not continuing to bear the brunt of keeping our systems functioning through their pockets.

Additionally, bills like H.1448 would increase the production of affordable homes, remove restrictive zoning barriers, and propose innovative solutions for land use in Massachusetts. During a time when zoning has been used to benefit big developers packing our district with housing that does not serve our existing population, it’s time for us to speak up for our residents.

I also understand the issue goes far beyond pay and housing. As a legislator I will address other bigger issues like lack of affordability in healthcare due to high costs in prescription medication and high administrative overhead for healthcare, food deserts in communities like the ones south of Route 135 that creates food insecurity in far too many households, and an undue burden of rising utility costs because of manufactured energy supply issues. Far too many families in our community across racial and geographical lines are bills juggling, medication cutting and facing food insecurity.

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SEN: Making Massachusetts Affordable is a very broad issue.  It can be housing, healthcare, transportation, education, utilities , Gas prices ETC.  

Housing – I will support the legislative agenda of CHAPA.  H1448, 1417, 1428, 2891, 2899, 1373, 1436, 4505, 1377, 5007, 5077, and many others.

Healthcare – I will write a bill so that Senior Citizens are covered by Mass Health.  As of now, as soon as some one is enrolled in Medicare, one is kicked out of Mass Health if one is being covered by it – and a total reevaluation of one’s eligibility is made and most often that Senior Citizen loses Mass Health coverage. The eligibility criteria for Mass Health also needs to revised. 

I will support H4961, 2318, 5086, 2114, 2320, 4812, 1106, 4982, 2105 , 1041, 1224, 1284, 2081, 2316, 4036, 1101, 4813, 2062, 2079, ETC

Transportation: I support H3572, 3414 and will write bills to implement Fair Share Amendment after it passes the ballot 

Education : Write Bills to implement Fair Share Amendment . Support the Student Opportunity Act.

Utilities: Support H3357, 2905. I will write bills to better regulate the utility companies which in turn may reduce bills. 

Gas Prices – beyond the state legislature. Fed gov needs to address price gauging. I don’t support suspending gas tax – that may have a very short term effect but prices will shoot up in a very short time due to price gauging. This suspension in effect gives a tax break to big oil.

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SHEPARD: Housing, utilities, and child care are definitely the biggest challenges for families who are living paycheck to paycheck, as Massachusetts ranks as one of the most expensive states for renters. 

I would work with my colleagues and community-based organizations to sponsor or co-sponsor rent control bills, subsidized income base utilities programs, and universal access to pre-kindergarten programs. 

By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.