The Light asked candidates Evan Gendreau and incumbent state Rep. Paul Schmid the same questions. Questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Why are you running to represent the 8th Bristol District?
I’m running for state representative because our district deserves a new independent voice and a strong advocate at the Statehouse. Our district and our commonwealth are facing a number of important issues from affordability to public safety. Now more than ever, we need a representative who will fight for tax relief and make Massachusetts more affordable.
What issues will you prioritize if elected?
Amid rising prices and inflation, I will fight for tax cuts to provide relief to taxpayers. I will promote public safety by supporting our law enforcement who work hard every day to keep our neighborhoods safe. I plan to work with local officials to support our schools, invest in infrastructure, and expand economic development opportunities to bring more jobs to the South Coast.
How will you represent the needs of all five cities and towns (New Bedford, Westport, Fall River, Acushnet, and Freetown) in the 8th district?
The 8th Bristol District includes five cities and towns and, due to its larger size compared to some other legislative districts, has diverse needs from Fall River to Acushnet. Over the course of the campaign, I have met with residents, local officials, and organizations throughout the district. I have also attended town meetings, city council meetings, neighborhood association meetings, and community events to get a better understanding of the concerns in each town. Good policymaking involves engaging in conversations with constituents and taking a practical approach to addressing issues.
What will you do to address the housing crisis and help residents on the South Coast afford rental housing and/or become first-time home buyers?
Housing is an important issue in our region, particularly on the affordability front. This is one of the reasons I support the Baker administration’s proposal to enact $700 million in tax breaks designed to assist low- and middle-income earners, renters, and seniors. An important aspect of the housing issue is ensuring there is a robust affordable housing stock. Drawing on my background in research and public policy, I will have conversations with stakeholders, including residents, local housing authorities, and other community members to identify needs and work on solutions.
How do you feel about the transportation issues that will appear on the ballot: the approval of the MBTA South Coast Rail project and the referendum on driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants?
I am in favor of South Coast communities joining the MBTA because the rail project provides a number of economic development opportunities for our region. Although there are concerns about cost, the assessment for MBTA service is determined by how many people use the rail and, importantly, our contribution to the regional transit authority (SRTA) is deducted from the assessed fee. In the case of Fall River and New Bedford, there would be no cost associated with joining the MBTA because the contribution to SRTA is greater than the MBTA fee. Regarding the driver’s license referendum, I am opposed to the law because the RMV does not have the ability to verify the validity of foreign documents. The law does not include ways to distinguish standard driver’s licenses issued to those who demonstrate lawful presence from those who do not.
What is the last book you read?
The Woman Who Stole Vermeer, written by my friend and State Auditor candidate Anthony Amore.
What is your favorite spot on the South Coast and why?
The South Coast has so much to offer. Among many other places in the area, I always have a great time visiting Westport Point enjoying local seafood overlooking the harbor.