By Katie Lannan
State Rep. Sheila Harrington hears her fellow House Republicans say "no" a lot, an adversarial stance she said she avoids.
"That's a great sound bite, but it means you won't get anything done," Harrington said. "I don't think people realize your goal should be to actually accomplish things."
Harrington, a Groton Republican, was first elected in 2010 to represent the First Middlesex District, which also includes Ashby, Dunstable, Pepperell, Townsend and a portion of Ayer. It's a group of towns also represented by four Democratic senators -- Eileen Donoghue of Lowell, Stephen Brewer of Barre, Jamie Eldridge of Acton and Jennifer Flanagan of Leominster -- with whom Harrington said she strives to work closely.
Harrington is now seeking her third term. She said her priorities will include addressing health care and unemployment.
"We have to have more jobs, but we're not making Massachusetts the most inviting community to go to," Harrington said. "Our regulatory system is bad, our tax situation -- when they passed that tech tax, I thought I was going to die."
She said the state could have saved money and made sure residents had better health care by sticking with the insurance system that existed before the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
"You really can't be a servant of two masters," she said. "If you're trying to serve your friends in Washington, but you're doing it to the detriment of the people that put you in office, I don't think that's right.
Harrington said most of her major accomplishments have been work she has done on the committees of which she is a member, panels dealing with veterans, the judiciary system and oversight.
The House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight has most recently been investigating the state Department of Children and Families, a series of inquiries launched after the disappearance of 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver of Fitchburg, who is feared dead.
Harrington said she'd support privatizing some of DCF's tasks.
"If we don't have people who are certified as social workers, and if we don't have a system where we can meet with these people on the level that we're supposed to, and if the private agencies do have people who are licensed, then why aren't we farming it out to other agencies?" she said.
If re-elected in November, Harrington said she would continue balancing the needs of the different communities that make up her diverse district.
"It's like having six kids," she said. "I can't play favorites."
One other candidate, Democrat Gene Rauhala of Townsend, organized an account with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance to mount a run for Harrington's seat, according to the office.
Harrington said she does not expect a Republican challenger in the primary.
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