Friday, September 26, 2003
Doug Stevenson announces run for legislature
"Good afternoon. I am honored to be here to announce that, as of today, I am a candidate for State Representative for the fourteenth Middlesex district." That statement, greeted with a round of applause, launched Carlisle Selectman Doug Stevenson's bid for election to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. The announcement was made on Saturday, September 20, at a gathering of approximately two hundred Carlisle friends and supporters at the home of Bob and Marylou Koning. Running as a Republican on a platform supporting fiscal reform, Stevenson will attempt to unseat Cory Atkins, the Democrat who currently represents the fourteenth district that includes Carlisle, Concord, Acton, and Chelmsford. The election takes place in November 2004.
Stevenson is well known to Carlisle, where he is currently a Selectman and has been a fire lieutenant. He also served as Scoutmaster and as Recreation Department basketball and wrestling coach. He is a graduate of Concord-Carlisle Regional High School and Boston College, and currently is operations manager with Kistler and Knapp Builders in Acton. He and his wife Mary Beth are parents of two-and-a-half-year-old triplets. His parents, Sonia and Bruce, have lived in Carlisle for many years.
State decisions affect towns
Stevenson said he had "thought about [running] all summer" and while "there was no one issue. . . I saw how decisions on the state level are affecting the towns." He elaborated in his speech to the assembled crowd, "I know first hand the impact increasing taxes are having on long-time residents as they struggle to live where they were born and raised. I have also worked directly with the schools and have witnessed the enormous challenges they face. I have seen the effects of failed overrides and have worked with school officials, town officials, and taxpayers to assure that as we tighten our belts, we maintain solid and effective programs." Applause greeted his statement, "I will work tirelessly to ensure that the actions of our state government focus on local needs and local realities."
Changing state government
Further applause greeted Stevenson as he continued, "We are challenged in many ways by a state government that focuses on politics instead of substance. We are ill-represented by a legislature that is controlled by a very small and powerful group. And we are represented by an individual who has bought into the politics-as-usual on Beacon Hill, and who has not effectively represented the interests of this district."
Stevenson spoke of Governor Romney's attempts at reform: "Today his hands are tied by a single-party legislature that lets partisan politics interfere with good leadership. I pledge to you that as your representative, I will support the governor when he brings solid reform to the table."
Governor offers support
Alex J. Dunn, political director for Governor Romney, was on hand to offer Stevenson the governor's support. He noted Romney will be actively campaigning for candidates such as Stevenson who "are committed to fiscal reform and to eliminating waste," a change from the past when Republican candidates were "completely on their own." In his brief talk to the crowd, Dunn spoke of reform "to provide more service with the same money," and added "the merging of Mass. Highway with the Turnpike Authority would save $190 million immediately, and an additional $50 million per year." He pointed to the need for legislators to support the governor's plans for reform, and concluded, "Stand behind Doug Stevenson. Bring public service to government and eliminate self-service."
"Fair," "sincere," "problem-solver"
Gathering reactions from the crowd, the words "fair," "sincere" and "problem-solver" arose very often in describing Stevenson. FinCom member David Trask said, "Doug has the ability to fairly represent all sides. He's a very, very good communicator, and that's what's needed." Speaking of state government, Trask added, "It's a difficult situation. There's too much now that is one-sided and self-serving." He pointed to Carol Cleven (a former representative whose district was eliminated, it was rumored, in retaliation for her non-conformist votes) and added, "You need to play ball with the power brokers." Steve Opolski of the Board of Health echoed that caveat. "With Doug, what you see is what you get. He's fair and he doesn't play politics, and that's a great asset in town government. Now, how that will work in the state house . . .?"
Carlisle Selectman and Stevenson's Campaign Finance Chair Tony Allison touted Stevenson's negotiating skills, "Unlike me who tends to get in arguments, Doug has the magic touch. He works to solve problems, and that's what's needed." Firefighter J.J. Supple characterized Stevenson as "earnest, sincere, hardworking, and dedicated," adding, "It's been a pleasure working side by side with him."
Even those who have not always supported Stevensons' positions on the issues indicated their high respect for him. Selectman John Ballantine cautioned, "Remember, I'm a Democrat," but went on to characterize Stevenson as possessing "integrity, fairness, earnestness, and character." Maureen Tarca of the RecCom said, "In my dealings with Doug, we don't always agree, but we always come to a great conclusion. He's a really good listener. He thinks about things and implements what makes sense."
Clearly energized, Stevenson called the Saturday event "absolutely amazing," adding, "I never expected this kind of turnout and support." Campaign Communications Chair Larry Bearfield indicated the next stage will be "building, fundraising, and generating grassroots volunteer support." He said the candidate will be getting around to Concord, Chelmsford, and Acton "so they can get to know the person, his philosophy, and his ideology."
With Carlisle representing a small percentage of district votes, it will be a considerable task to translate political strength here into votes throughout the district. Stevenson will need to use his base of solid support in Carlisle to ignite similar excitement in towns where voters have not yet heard of him. While time is on his side, it may be a busy fourteen months until election.
Stevenson will continue to serve as Selectman throughout the campaign.
© 2003 The