candidate for re-election, 18th Worcester District
Republican State Representative Ryan Fattman has been putting on the miles on foot in Webster; with voter lists in hand, he's called on every house on every street, except Golden Heights and Treasure Island. He wasn't allowed into those complexes, he said. He has visited every house in two Oxford precincts which are part of the district, as well. The newly configured 18th Worcester District also includes Douglas and Sutton, and he’s heading to Douglas next.
His Democratic challenger is Donald Bourque, chairman of the Webster Board of Selectmen.
The walks are part of Mr. Fattman's campaign strategy to meet as many people in the district as possible, get their issues and ideas, and then “put into practice what they say, to represent them all.” He said he learned a lot about the socio-economic character of Webster by walking around the Lake and downtown areas. He finds someone at home about 40% of the time, he explained, even in the daytime: homemakers, unemployed people, the disabled, retired, elderly.
“If you really want to represent people you have to meet them. Some people thought I was crazy going into some of the neighborhoods. I thought it would be crazy not to,” he said. He started the walks in April and finished in August.
Mr. Fattman is finishing his first term in the House, and counts among his accomplishments the restrictions passed on EBT cards, so they can no longer be used for items such as alcohol or movie tickets. This was a bipartisan effort, he said, and he hopes to do more work on that next term, restricting the cash benefits and adding an ID to the card so people can’t trade it or sell it. He'd also like to see the closing of a loophole that allows illegal immigrants to register vehicles.
Asked if he supports a bill in the legislature raising the minimum wage from $8/hour to $10/hour, he answered: “Increasing the cost of doing business is not a good thing.” He is also concerned about a mandatory sick leave bill, which would require employers to offer employees a minimum of three sick days per year. “We should concentrate on getting people back to work, not on increasing costs to employees. Employers tell me that if this happens, they will be laying people off.” Most employers will cover their employees when they are sick, he maintains.
Mr. Fattman is co-sponsoring legislation that would study all unfunded state mandates for cities and towns. Unfortunately that idea hasn’t gone anywhere the last two years, but he wants to get it going again. “A lot of studies are proposed, but not a lot them make it,” he said.
Another area he’d like to see progress on is the rollback of the state income tax and sales tax to 5%, “People voted on this, Webster overwhelmingly, and it should be implemented. This is one of the most frustrating things, people get aggravated.” He’s also against the proposal to tax Internet sales, believing it will hurt small online businesses.
Mr. Fattman often tells his audiences that he's the product of a mixed marriage, his father is a Republican and his mother a Democrat (she's now un-enrolled). ”I learned diplomacy early,” he said. “My mom has good ideas; my dad knows how to pay for them.” It helps him work across the aisle.
He is working on a bill with Democrat Jim Arciero of Westford to cut costs on highway signs and vehicles. It's in the spirit of Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis's commitment when he was elected not to put his name on department signs. “If all twelve sheriffs did that, think about how much money the state would save.”
On state ballot question 2, prescribing medication to end life, he said, “It's a moral issue for me. I'm against it.” On question 3, medical use of marijuana, he said he has no problem with medical marijuana if it helps people suffer less. But he sees two problems: federal law supersedes state law and they should “get on the same page,” and, who would be qualified to prescribe it.
Mr. Fattman has a BS in Political Science from Suffolk University and is working on an MA in Public Policy and International Relations from Tufts University. He has just the thesis left to write, and he's “forty pages into it.”
Mr. Fattman's political career began when he was 21, the youngest selectman in his home town of Sutton. He was also a member and chairman of the Housing Partnership Committee there. He had been a selectman for five years in 2010 when he decided to run for state representative because he was frustrated. “I basically saw the state balancing their budget on the backs of cities and towns, cutting services, raising taxes, not doing enough to reform state government to make it work for people. And I was lucky enough to be elected.”
Whether he wins next month or not, Webster will be seeing more of Ryan Fattman. He said his walking the town was also a good opportunity to scout for houses, as he's planning to move to Webster next summer when he marries his fiancée Stepahie Kotseas.
- Wednesday, 24 October 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Letter From the Editor