(Editor's Note: Tewksbury Patch asked the candidates for Democratic state representative and state senator five questions on issues related directly to Tewksbury. Question 1 was published Thursday and Question 2 on Friday. Questions 4-5 will run on consecutive days leading up to the primary on Sept. 14.)
Question 3. What do you view as the biggest challenge facing Tewksbury and how would you address it?
State Senator, 2nd Essex/Middlesex District
Jack Wilson, Democrat, Andover
Tewksbury's greatest assets are its residents, but far too many that I've met going to door to door this summer are facing real challenges making ends meet. I've met too many families in the town who have household members either out of work or underemployed. These people are frustrated with state government, and for good reason. Beacon Hill is out of touch with their challenges and they want new leadership to go in a new direction. Private sector jobs need to be created, and it won't be done by electing more of the same. The recent tax increases have only worsened the economy in the Merrimack Valley. We need to pass a comprehensive jobs bill that provides tax incentives to businesses that create jobs. That won't be done without some new leadership from outside the current system.
Barry Finegold, Democrat, Andover
The biggest challenge we face is how do we maintain public services in a time when funding is tight. We need to continue to grow the commercial base that will not only create added revenue for the town but create revenue for the state by adding jobs.
Debbie Silberstein, Democrat, Andover
In many respects Tewksbury is turning the corner, with the building of the new high school, and the hiring of a new School Superintendent and a new Town Manager. However, continuing budgetary challenges will remain. Maintaining the quality of life residents desire without over burdening taxpayers is critical. This includes services such as public safety, both police and fire ( the closure of the South Street fire station during the summer), affordable and adequate housing for senior citizens, and good schools to well position our students for the future. The state can help support Tewksbury during these tough economic times by thinking outside the box and we need new leaders with a fresh set of eyes to do this. The state must act to reduce unfunded mandates, provide incentives to cities and towns for innovation, regionalization, and consolidation—and getting its own house in order by reducing waste in state government (the probation department is just one example).
State Representative, 17th Essex District
Pat Commane, Democrat, Andover
One issue, which I hear a lot, is the need for state legislators to stop passing on unfunded mandates to the taxpayers of Tewksbury. Budgets are already strained without Beacon Hill piling on. I am committed to not vote on bills which pass the burden on to taxpayers. We all want progress and we all want our communities to thrive. I moved to Tewksbury when I got married 15 years ago. Since that time, the town has achieved much and great advancements are still to come, including the construction of the new Tewksbury High school. Using the Model School approach for this construction was a smart move but diligence will need to be employed to ensure that the project is built on time and on budget.
The following candidate did not submit a response to this question: Frank Bonet, Democrat, Lawrence.
State Representative 19th Middlesex District
The following candidate did not submit a response to this question: James Miceli, Democrat, Wilmington.