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 believe in service. I served our country in the Marine Corps. I have served Westport on several boards and on the Fincom [Finance Committee], which I chaired. I was elected selectman. And I have been honored to serve the 8th Bristol District as state representative for 12 years.
What issues will you prioritize if elected?
The South Coast delegation worked hard to pass the Student Opportunity Act in 2019. This is bringing a significant increase in state funding for New Bedford and Fall River schools. Now we need to help small-town schools like Westport, Freetown and Acushnet. They have experienced budget crunches that cause continued cutbacks at our schools. We need increased state aid for Westport, Freetown and Acushnet community schools. That will be my priority if I am reelected to the 8th Bristol District.
How will you represent the needs of all five cities and towns (New Bedford, Westport, Fall River, Acushnet, and Freetown) in the 8th district?
I’m a team player. I’ll continue my effective work to bring jobs to the South Coast through commuter rail, offshore wind and the marine economy. I have been a leader in supporting farmers; to bring local, healthy food into our schools and underserved urban areas. With Senator Rodrigues and Representative Orrall, I worked to harvest invasives from Long Pond in Freetown. Together with Representative Straus, I have already brought $50,000 in earmarks to help Acushnet direct its future. I obtained $150,000 to air condition the Macomber School in Westport. I attend dozens of community events each month and listen to constituents at each one.
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?
We need affordable housing, senior housing, veterans housing and starter homes. This is hard for Westport, which has little town water and sewer. Senator Rodrigues and I are working with the Planning Board and Town Administrator to bring water and sewer down Route 6. This will allow Westport to maintain a diverse housing stock.
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?
The South Coast should approve the South Coast Rail project. Being connected to Boston, the economic center of our region, means jobs. Without that connection we will continue to be a backwater, an economically challenged region. South Coast Rail is fundamental to our future.
What is the last book you read?
This summer I read Taylor Branch’s trilogy on MLK. Nearly 2,000 pages in total and every paragraph, as one reviewer put it, full of drama. Recommend the three volumes highly, but it’s a commitment!
What is your favorite spot on the South Coast and why?
I love being out on the Bay. Been sailing since I was a kid. Probably been on Buzzards Bay a thousand times. Never gets old. And I am very lucky that Tina enjoys the water as much as I do!