Election 2012: Keating versus Sheldon in Ninth District race

Bill Keating spoke to Islanders at a public meeting in January. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

The race for the recast 9th Congressional District pits incumbent Democrat William Richard Keating of Bourne against Republican Christopher Sheldon of Plymouth.

Legislators created the 9th District, substantially the same as the old 10th District, after Massachusetts lost one of its 10 congressional seats because of reapportionment. The new district includes the Cape and Islands, some of the South Shore, New Bedford, and portions of Fall River.

Mr. Keating (billkeating.org), a former state legislator and Norfolk district attorney, lost his Quincy power base when the 10th District disappeared. He moved to Monument Beach to remain in the newly 9th District.

Christopher Sheldon (electsheldon.com) spent his entire professional career in the private sector with more than 14 years of experience in financial services, consumer goods, and management consulting industries, according to his website.

Daniel S. Botelho (danielbotelhoforcongress.com), a 34-year-old financial analyst from Fall River, is running as an independent.

In the runup to the primary battle in September, The Times asked Mr. Keating and Mr. Sheldon to respond briefly to the following series of questions.

1. Plans are moving ahead for the development of inshore and offshore industrial commercial wind farms bracketing Martha’s Vineyard. These heavily subsidized plants will raise the cost of electricity for district consumers. Please comment on state and federal efforts to support the development of wind farms.

Mr. Keating: As the first of its kind, Cape Wind will allow Massachusetts to be at the forefront of offshore wind technology, as the rest of the East Coast develops their own wind farms. It will not only provide New England with an alternate energy source, but will boost tourism and create jobs throughout the Cape and Islands, as other developers up and down the coast use our technology and our staging areas.

It’s also important to note that wind power and other alternative energy sources are necessary to reduce our country’s dependence on fossil fuels. Increased importation of oil is directly increasing our deficit and linking our economic recovery to our consumption of foreign oil. Decreasing our consumption of fossil fuels is not only smart economically, but it is critical if we are to boost our national security and once again demonstrate global leadership.

Mr. Sheldon: My issue with the current wind farm proposals is that they are dependent on taxpayer subsidies and uncompetitive power purchase agreements, which lead to higher taxes and higher utility rates. Essentially, the government is trying to pick winners and losers in the energy market, which, as we’ve seen in the case of Solyndra, Evergreen Solar, and others, is the exact opposite of certainty and stability. Sooner or later the tax breaks and subsidies run out, and it will be our local businesses and consumers left holding the bag.

We should continue to support research and development in renewable energy, but we should let the free market, and not the government, decide which sources of energy make the most sense for our economy.

2. Martha’s Vineyard is home to a large number of illegal immigrants. Please name a policy you would support that addresses one aspect of the immigration issue (courts, licenses, education, insurance).

Mr. Keating: Immigration reform on the federal level is a long-stalled necessity in our country. Only comprehensive reform will address the “brain-drain” issue that stems from workers trained in the U.S. taking their skills elsewhere, as well as provide an exit plan for those who are not in this country legally.

I have consistently voted in favor of leaving immigration issues out of states’ hands. Further, I have supported Governor Patrick’s decision to continue the Commonwealth’s participation in the Secure Communities Program, which matches criminal records for those arrested on charges of illegal activity with the suspect’s immigration status.

Mr. Sheldon: Employers that hire illegal immigrants hurt our economy in two ways. First, they provide the incentives that lure illegals into our country and who ultimately burden our local resources (benefits, education, etc.). And second, they make it harder for those businesses operating legally to effectively compete for work and turn a profit.

While I believe that penalties against these employers should be stiff, we also need to make sure our local, state and federal law enforcement agencies — as well as our local employers — have the resources they need to validate legal citizenship and enforce the existing illegal employment laws.

3. Please name one policy you would support to address the nation’s deficit.

Mr. Keating: Cutting wasteful programs, such as subsidies for Big Oil, would be one way to immediately address the nation’s deficit. By continuing to give subsidies to Big Oil, we are giving tax credits to some of the most profitable companies in the world who directly determine the high prices at the pump.

Ending tax subsidies for oil companies would save the country over $43 billion over the next 10 years. I am proud that the first amendment [to proposed legislation] I introduced in Congress was aimed at ending these subsidies.

Mr. Sheldon: Getting our economy back on track is the single best way we can help reduce our nation’s soaring deficit and crushing debt. We must institute a number of pro-growth policies that will bring fiscal, tax, and regulatory certainty to our economy.

To that end, meaningful tax reform that includes eliminating special interest loopholes and deductions, lowering marginal rates and reducing the overall number of tax brackets will broaden our tax base, bring some much needed efficiency to our economy, and increase overall tax revenue. In addition, I propose that corporate marginal tax rates be reduced for all businesses and completely eliminated for our small and medium sized businesses as well as newly formed companies.