Robert Scott McConnell
Why are you running? And how would your background and experience guide your work as a legislator?
Back in 2019 I had called up the Mass. GOP and said: “I’ve been a Republican since Sheriff Peter Foreman in like 1998, supporting your votes and sending you money. We’ve had the same state senator and the same state representative down here for 30 years, unopposed — you guys can’t’ field a candidate?”
Their response was, “What are you doing, Bob?”
“I’m working, I’m a normal person, not a politician.”
“Well, you could run. We’ll come down and talk to you.”
[I] met them for lunch, they asked me about myself, asked me to fill out a brief questionnaire, and said, “You’re an excellent candidate.” I said, “No, I’m not.”
They had a program called the Minuteman Program, and a list of goals: Raise $10,000 in the next two months, appear on three radio shows — I could never do that. So, I didn’t, but I remained active and this time I just felt compelled to step up.
My career and background would be accountability, integrity and credibility, which is a hallmark of service in any public office — especially law enforcement. You’re held to a higher standard. One of my favorite instructors back at the sheriff’s department used to explain that to people that say, “Why are we held to a higher standard than everybody else?” And the reply is, “Because you raised your hand and took an oath.”
What are the top three things you want to accomplish if you’re elected?
A new voice and a new insight, personal growth and learning, and more involvement and more opportunity to serve. To add to that — one of the things I’m most proud of with my service at the sheriff’s department is that it gives me a platform to serve. I could serve individually, but I wouldn’t have the connections and the resources to organize blood drives with the assistance of the sheriff’s department. I wouldn’t be able to work and organize a torch run for a Special Olympics. There’s a lot of things the sheriff’s department is expected to provide for the community, but they also give me a platform to go on and above that by personal perseverance.
How should state lawmakers help Massachusetts families cope with high inflation?
That is a very pertinent question at the present time. Over the last 20 years, it seems as though most of the legislation that has been passed, enacted, or proposed has come from initiative petitions, which are to create a law, and referendum petitions — which I’m currently working on now — that the citizens are forced into a position where they need to legislate because they’re not happy with what’s being provided for them.
Right now, pertinent to your question, there was an initiative petition to return excess tax revenue to the citizens which was initiated by Citizens for Limited Taxation back in ’96. Working on these petitions is very difficult to collect the signatures, to put yourself out there and collect them and then organize the collection and submitting of them to the secretary of state. But there was a law that was passed that said that this money would go back to the people, and you may or may not know what happened — [the Legislature] said “nay.” And I would fully support referendum and initiative petitions, and if that is what the people want, that is what should be done, not what Beacon Hill or the politicians want.
Do you support suspending the state gas tax?
I do. If it was done when initially proposed. I think that it would have been more effective [then]. Right now, gas prices are falling. Right now, I would certainly listen to the argument that the oil and gas industry would negate that, and perhaps it is only a gimmick or a talking point at this time. But please, please, take care of the people first.
What would you do to address the housing affordability crisis in New Bedford?
I was recently told, “Don’t talk around the subject, don’t make anything up, answer the question specifically.” Therefore, I would say that I don’t know enough about it to address it. But you can be sure that I will find out what’s going on, and I’m certain that I have good ideas, and whatever ideas I have will be the popular opinion and what the people want. As far as compassion, caring about all people, especially the elderly. I don’t think that you would find a more compassionate candidate.
How do you envision your role in completion of the South Coast Rail project?
I’m all for public transportation — being out on the road as a deputy sheriff, the amount of traffic, the accidents, the conditions of the road, it’s obviously unsustainable and it’s just a ridiculous thing to see one person in a vehicle and burning so much fuel. If more public transportation was available, that would be a good thing. But I just found it such a paradox, that in reference to the Work and Family Mobility Act, that that was cited as being positive, that if we give all these people driver’s licenses then there’ll be less people on public transportation and public health will improve.
Like a lot of things on the progressive side of the argument, there’s always a paradox, there’s always a contradiction that doesn’t make sense and doesn’t advance anything. I don’t know what to say about that argument other than it’s a direct contradiction and just foolishness.
Where do you stand on abortion rights?
My position is pro-life. And when people say that they are pro-choice, everything seems to be a euphemism and what they’re really saying is that they’re pro-abortion, and I’m not.
What was the last book you read?
“Crazy Wisdom” [by Chrisopher Shaw.]
It is a flashback to my youth of growing up in the Adirondacks and Lake George region. It is about a fellow by the name of Jon Cody who I knew personally, and just an amazing story of the beauty yet hardship of rural living — both economically and dealing with the harsh conditions of nature — that somebody was able to do the things that this fellow Jon Cody did, who was an amputee and only had one arm.
What was the last TV show you binged?
I don’t watch a lot of TV, I watch more YouTube videos and they are in reference to my occupation with ICE — that whoever I may transport or have dealings with, I research the politics of their country, the social, economic condition, and what is happening there. And that is a great resource to me because when you speak to these people and have interaction with them — to acknowledge their language, their culture, the racial diversity of their country — It gives you great power over these people because they, in turn, acknowledge you as respecting them.
We went down to Wyatt yesterday. I assumed — they weren’t all Hispanic, but generally [they were Hispanic]. [I said] ‘Hola, hermanos, buenas dias.’ They’re scared, they don’t even know where they’re going. It must be terrifying, but me walking in, with that type of greeting, you can see the smiles. You can see the calmness that’s being placed on people.
What’s your favorite place in the South Coast area and why?
I was going through a difficult time in my life and a friend of mine from the sheriff’s department invited me to rent a room from him in his house on Sconticut Neck. And when I got there I was very upset. And I walked up the beach and came to a cove called Priest Cove. When I got to that location, I looked out over the marsh and said, “This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” It was this time of year. The marsh grass was tall and green, the color of the water, it was just amazing. And I was feeling so helpless and lost at the time, that I didn’t think things would ever improve.
Within five or six years, I found a property on the other side of this marsh. It was just a little fisherman shack, 20 by 20, barely livable, and I was in such a state that it was all I could afford. I moved into this shack, eventually was able to buy the property, and build a home which looks over this area now, and from my house I can see the bedroom window of this place that I rented.
Email Grace Ferguson at email@example.com.