Three Islanders seek nod for state rep in primary
Voters will decide a hotly contested democratic primary race to fill the seat of retiring state representative Eric Turkington when they go to the polls next Tuesday, September 16. Three of the candidates on the Democratic primary ballot live on Martha's Vineyard.
Polls open at 7 am next Tuesday, and will close at 8 pm.
Seeking the Democratic party nomination for state representative are Dan Larkosh, Tim Lasker, Tim Madden, David Moriarty, and Roger Wey.
Mr. Larkosh is an attorney who practices civil, criminal, and family law at the firm of Larkosh & Jackson in Edgartown. He grew up in Oak Bluffs, and he now lives in West Tisbury.
Mr. Lasker serves on Chilmark's planning board and affordable housing committee. He runs a technology company focused on wind energy for commercial and home use.
Mr. Madden lives in Nantucket, where he has served as legislative liaison to Rep. Turkington. Mr. Madden's name is not on the Democratic primary ballot. He entered the race as an independent candidate, but is mounting a write-in campaign in the Democratic primary, a political strategy that has become an issue in the campaign. Other candidates contend he is essentially running twice for the same office.
Mr. Moriarty is a construction contractor who lives in Falmouth. He has been active in Democratic party politics, including a college internship working for Rep. Turkington.
Mr. Wey, of Oak Bluffs, has served on many municipal boards and commissions, and is currently a selectman and a Dukes County commissioner. He is also the director of the Oak Bluffs Council on Aging.
Also on the democratic primary ballot is Catherine O'Brien-Bumpus, of Falmouth, but she has withdrawn from the race. Melissa Freitag of Falmouth and Jacob Ferreira of Vineyard Haven are seeking the seat as independent candidates and will be on the general election ballot. No republicans are seeking the state representative seat.
The Times asked each of the Democratic primary candidates to provide answers to three questions on current issues. Four of the candidates responded. Numerous attempts to reach Mr. Moriarty by e-mail and phone were unsuccessful.
1. Do you support, or oppose casino gambling in Massachusetts?
Mr. Larkosh: I generally oppose casinos as they are not in keeping with the Massachusetts tradition as a more family-oriented state, but I promise to look at every single casino proposal with an open mind.
Mr. Lasker: Massachusetts leads the nation in healthcare enrollment rates because we made a commitment in 2006 to get every citizen insured. If we are to follow through with that commitment, we've got to be realistic about the associated costs.
I favor casino gambling if it is done right. This means the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe would need to bring a comprehensive plan before the public for it to consider. They would need to provide architectural renderings, address infrastructure concerns, set up an advantageous revenue agreement with the state, ensure jobs go to the surrounding communities, and that in-state contractors be used when possible.
The revenue generated from one casino would cover half of the cost overrun of the Massachusetts health plan.
Mr. Madden: I am not prepared to support casino gambling at this point. First, the dollars people spend at casinos generate profits mostly for the casinos' owners. I believe the benefits to our local communities would be minimal at best. Second, casinos saddle local taxpayers with added costs for infrastructure and local public services (think police, fire, courts, emergency rooms, etc.). I don't see how casino gambling will generate sufficient revenue to offset those costs. Let's leave casino gambling to neighboring states. We have other, better options for local economic development.
Mr. Wey: I oppose casino gambling in Massachusetts because the social and economic cost are simply too high. The costs are crime, quality of life, and potential gambling addictions, which lead to long-term social problems. There are no winners, but lots of losers. I understand the need for economic development for the Tribes and would support other economic initiatives. In the event casino gambling is passed by the State, I would support both Tribes being treated equally and fairly, unlike the last proposal. I would also fight for programs to be provided to address social issues, such as gambling addictions.
2. Do you support or oppose Cape Wind, and what action will you take to meet the future energy needs of Martha's Vineyard?
Mr. Larkosh: I am the only candidate who supports Cape Wind. This project will produce a tremendous amount of power - 3/4 of the electricity needs of the Cape and Islands. The project will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and will help in the fight against global warming. Our country is falling behind the European countries in the development of wind and solar technologies. I want to regain the lead as the innovators, inventors, and pioneers in this area. Cape Wind will be the first offshore wind farm in the U.S. and will make our district national leaders in offshore wind power generation and technology. This project will be a tremendous boon to our local economy. My primary goal will be to make certain that Cape Wind provides jobs to our young people. I also want to sponsor an earmark request in the state budget to promote eco-tourism initiatives tied to the wind farm. I believe the wind farm will be a major tourist draw.
Mr. Lasker: I strongly favor development of sustainable energy resources such as wind, but in its current formulation I have to oppose Cape Wind. The electricity from Cape Wind would go into the national grid and be sold to the highest bidder. The project may profit venture capitalists, but it will certainly not benefit the residents of Martha's Vineyard.
I support the creation of a municipally owned wind utility that would supply the Vineyard with electricity. Dukes County could create a wind farm on Nomans Land, with 12 giga-turbines, on approximately a fifth of the land, and generate enough electricity for the entire island. Our bills would be at least 25 percent less annually and our carbon footprint a lot smaller.
A utility of this kind currently operates in Hull, Massachusetts, where the city owns wind turbines. Unlike Cape Wind, Hull's wind farm was readily embraced by the citizens. This shows how local control and tangible economic benefit can lead to broader acceptance of alternative energy sources.
Mr. Madden: The Cape Wind project would be in Federal waters, so our Massachusetts legislators have no say. I am not opposed to Cape Wind, and it seems as if it will receive all the necessary permits to go forward, so we should attempt to gain maximal local benefit from it. I do wish, like most people, that it was in a different location. I do favor moving forward on increasing renewable energy. I am a strong advocate for more funding - especially Federal and State funding - to accelerate renewable energy research and development. (That's a surer route to economic development than casino gambling.) I'm very supportive of the development of a Marine Renewable Energy Center in our district, which has proposals for the Muskeget Channel. I also like the idea of an Island Energy Cooperative, but I will work to procure state support for whatever course the Vineyard pursues. The recently passed Green Jobs Bill nicely joins these two worthy aims: (1) developing alternative energy sources here and (2) growing our local economy and adding high-tech jobs and businesses.
Mr. Wey: I oppose Cape Wind because of the adverse economic, environmental, and public safety impacts it would have. I would support other wind programs such as the University of Maine Initiative for deep water turbines. This initiative would develop a thousand turbines, 20 miles offshore, away from fishing areas, shipping routes, and bird habitats. I would also support initiatives like the partnership between Nantucket and Edgartown. I am in favor of programs that would give incentives for alternative energy, such as wind turbines, solar energy, and other alternative sources, by the Federal and State governments to both commercial businesses and residents. I would work to increase town regionalization in purchasing fuel and energy, giving the towns more buying power. I would also work to increase and improve the accessibility and affordability of public transportation and encourage car pooling with tax credit incentives.
3. If elected, what will your immediate legislative priorities be?
Mr. Larkosh: I would address nitrogen loading by actively working with each town in the district in applying for Clean Water Act zero-interest loans. The loans are available to municipalities interested in reducing nutrient loading through sewering and other measures.
We simply cannot tolerate toxic chemicals in our environment, oceans, wetlands, estuaries, watersheds, food and drinking water. There is growing scientific evidence linking toxic chemicals to health problems in humans. Massachusetts once led the nation in advancing safer chemicals through its landmark 1989 Toxics Use Reduction Act; however, the law does not require substitution of problem chemicals in products. I want to work for passing a "safer alternatives" bill which will require companies to use the safest chemicals possible in all products sold in Massachusetts.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, approximately 1,100 corporations in Massachusetts making in excess of $100,000,000 in annual sales paid the minimum corporate excise tax - $456. That's far less than what you or I pay. I want to continue the recent successes in the legislature in closing corporate tax loopholes so the corporations pay their fair share of taxes. These revenues can then be used to fund our schools, clean our environment and provide decent, affordable heathcare to all Massachusetts residents.
Mr. Lasker: My immediate legislative priorities are: passage of the bill that recently cleared the Senate to impose a 1 percent tax on the most valuable property in the district to develop funding for affordable housing; implementation of the Governor's new agenda for education; streamlining the permitting process for fishermen to develop deep water aquaculture in state waters; and passage of a law to require adequate septic systems to alleviate the problem of nitrogen-loading in our ponds.
Mr. Madden: My constituents are the ones who will set my legislative priorities. The people of Martha's Vineyard will have specific concerns, but other issues are commonly shared in the district. Among our most pressing needs are: stabilizing homeowners' insurance rates; protecting our harbors and watersheds; making more affordable housing available; and supporting home rule petitions which reflect our unique district. As your next state representative, my job will be to communicate our specific needs effectively, and then do what it takes to gain support for legislation to meet those local needs and get that legislation passed. My years of experience at the state house will enable me to get the job done.
Mr. Wey: I would give my immediate attention to the following: Housing Bank Bill (2007 Senate Bill #781). This is similar to the Land Bank Bill. It would impose a one percent fee, paid by the seller on real estate sales. The first $750,000 of each sale would be exempt from the fee. Similar to the Land Bank, a housing organization would be formed and self-funded. It would distribute money to affordable housing programs and initiatives. Also, alternative energy tax incentives; additional funding for fuel assistance and food banks (pantries); additional school aid - funds that were promised by the state, that are not being received currently; environmental bond bill - funds to clean our ponds and harbors, reduce road runoff and expand and improve our sewer systems; regionalization incentives for towns to pool their services and increase buying power.