Friday, October 29, 2004
Candidates for state representative
Democrat Cory Atkins, Incumbent
Since I was elected to the State House of Representatives, I've had three legislative priorities:
1. Fighting for the most state funding for education to help relieve the property tax burden;
2. Reforming the legislature to change the culture on Beacon Hill;
3. Rebuilding the economy to create lasting, good-paying jobs.
I'm also committed to being your advocate at the State House. This means voting with the Governor when he is right and voting against the Governor when he is wrong.
I have the most independent voting record in the House.No one can count me as a rubber stamp.
I currently serve as House Chair of the Science and Technology Caucus, a public-private partnership of over 260 high-tech and bio-tech industry leaders, higher education leaders and state officials.The Science and Technology Caucus seeks to spur the economy and address the needs of Massachusetts' industries by improving our schools to build a strong workforce.
I am a founding member of the independent reform group, the House Democratic Council.The HDC is committed to making the House more transparent and encouraging open debate.
I've been an active member of the Concord Children's Center, Concord-Carlisle League of Women Voters, Concord Youth and Family Services, Network for Women's Lives and Walden Woods.
I have experience at all levels of government. I've worked with the Network for Women's Lives on local domestic violence issues.I was a board member of the Environmental League of Massachusetts where I worked to bring state and national attention to environmental concerns. And I worked at the international level with women leaders from around the world on disarmament and development issues.
I have an understanding of what it takes to succeed as a small business owner.In the early 1990's, I founded a strategic marketing company with my husband.
I'm eager to continue my work at the State House. Sixteen local and state organizations have endorsed my re-election bid.
Chapter 40B changes?
Affordable housing is the Achilles heel of economic development. Businesses are not moving here and college graduates are not staying because they cannot find affordable housing.
As House Chair of the Science and Technology Caucus, I hear the concerns of state business leaders on this issue every day.I also hear community members' concerns. Local leaders rightly want to protect the character of communities they've worked hard to build.
I used the lessons from both community members and business leaders when I voted for 40B reform three months ago. Last month, I hosted a forum for Carlisle residents on 40B and potential reforms.
The key elements for planned production include identifying a housing strategy, outlining characteristics of preferred projects, describing use restrictions and identifying zoning districts that can or will accommodate housing.
The reform seeks to identify appropriate sites for housing. It also expands the definition as affordable housing.
Under the reform, if a community adopts a plan to meet its low- or moderate-income housing needs, developers can longer ignore zoning laws. The key to the reform is that it gives much more control to communities. The Department of Housing and Community Development would make planning and housing development information and resources available to assist communities. Also, contiguous communities could agree to share credit for housing developments where infrastructure and other costs are shared.
While the Senate has yet to take up 40B reform, the DHCD can begin to implement regulatory changes.
Aid for Special Education?
When the state fails to support special education, the pressure on the property tax increases.This is why my top priority is to fight for more state funding for education.
This year, I successfully fought to increase special education funding by $80 million and to increase regional education transportation funding by $38 million. These additional funds will help relieve some pressure on the property taxes.
If reelected, I will continue to fight for increased state funding for special education and other state mandated education programs.
Tax relief for elderly?
The Governor did our communities a disservice by pledging to push as many taxes as possible down onto the property tax.
Seniors and others living on fixed incomes can least afford increased property taxes. Too often, increasing property taxes force seniors out of town.
I supported the senior tax circuit breaker and legislation that would allow towns to give tax breaks to seniors.Unfortunately, Governor Romney has vetoed these efforts.
I'll continue to challenge the Governor on this issue, because I believe seniors deserve to grow old in the communities they helped build.
Republican Doug Stevenson, Challenger
I have been serving the Town of Carlisle for the past seven years as a member of the Board of Selectmen, working on many issues that affect our everyday lives: funding our schools and public safety departments, conserving our natural resources and maintaining a stable property tax rate. As a lifelong resident of Carlisle, I have brought to this job a unique perspective of our town. I am privileged to be raising my family here and to have my parents still living in town. I have been a regular volunteer in Carlisle, serving as a member of the call fire department for over twenty years, leading the Boy Scout Troop for ten years and being active on the Celebrations Committee for over fifteen years. As a Selectman, I founded the Financial Management Team, was integral in the O'Rourke Farm preservation, worked with the Personnel Board to develop the town's first Wage and Classification plan and have been an advocate for an appropriately maintained Stabilization Fund.
I am currently employed as Vice President of Operations for a residential construction firm in Acton. I have met the challenges of running a small business: making payroll, managing and motivating employees, and creating jobs. I have a keen sense of the disincentives created by government regulation and tax policy.
I will take all that I have learned and accomplished as a business manager, a local elected official, and family man with me to Beacon Hill to represent our communities with commitment and energy.
Chapter 40B changes?
I am a proponent of a thorough overhaul of Chapter 40B. Our local officials have worked extremely hard over the past decades to maintain the rural character that we all enjoy. To have our towns forever altered by high density housing developments sited at a developer's preference is unacceptable. Our local zoning by-laws must prevail and our affordable housing needs must be solved with greater local input.
I am also a proponent of a regional approach to the affordable housing challenge. Placing higher density housing near existing infrastructure, such as employment centers, transportation centers and accessible utilities is not only more cost effective, but also helps protect against greater traffic congestion and significant environmental impact. The current incentives only contribute to the suburban sprawl that most policy makers agree is detrimental.
In addition, the state needs to revise the manner in which affordable housing is counted. We currently have a situation in which many "affordable" units are not counted because the state does not control the occupancy. We also have a situation in which many people who would qualify as "affordable" buyers are being forced from their homes (which in the current market are "unaffordable") because of high property tax rates and the increased cost of living. This is state policy gone awry.
Aid for Special Education?
The current Special Education legislation falls into the general category of "un-funded mandates." Massachusetts continues to lag behind most states in its reimbursements to communities for SPED, while at the same time having some of the most open-ended qualifications. It is time for our state policy makers to fund appropriately those mandates that it imposes on our communities.
I have been a supporter of Governor Romney's reform agenda to cut many wasteful bureaucracies that unnecessarily consume the Commonwealth's resources. Simple ideas, such as combining our state highway departments, consolidating the Boston Municipal Courts and streamlining the public bidding process would save tens of millions of dollars that could be used to fund necessary programs such as Special Education. Our legislators must have the common sense to recognize and realize these efficiencies, so that the required, essential programs get acceptable resources.
Tax relief for elderly?
Ever increasing property taxes continue to be one of the greatest challenges we face. Too many long-term, fixed income residents are being forced from our community because of this burden. As a Selectman, I have been an advocate for adopting every abatement program available under current state law. I have also been an advocate for common sense efficiencies so that we find that ideal balance between funding the local services we desire and keeping our property taxes at a feasible level.
I am a proponent of additional legislation that would give communities more flexibility in establishing abatement programs that provide real property tax relief for residents who meet age and income requirements. I am suspect of legislation that would impose on our communities any regulatory provision that would be, in effect, an un-funded mandate. Our communities need to be given tools to help keep our valued long-term residents in their homes.
© 2004 The