The common thread in the race for the Middlesex & Worcester state Senate seat is Acton
The incumbent, Jamie Eldridge, grew up there and graduated from Acton-Boxboro Regional High School in 1991. His Republican challenger, Margaret Busse lives in the town home to 22,000 people, where she is active in the community.
Third party candidate, Terra Friedrichs is a former selectwoman for the town, serving in 2008 to 2011.
That's where the similarities end. The three are seeking to serve more than a dozen communities, including the Nashoba Valley communities of Ayer, Devens, Shirley and Harvard.
Here are a few items about each candidate:
Jamie Eldridge: Eldridge, 45, graduated from Boston College Law School, and is a licensed attorney specializing in advocacy for the underprivileged.
Eldridge served three terms in the state House of Representatives, before winning the Senate seat in 2009. In nearly 20 years as a state lawmaker, he has served on a dozen committees and authored, sponsored, or co-sponsored more than 20 pieces of legislation. A progressive, he is the only Massachusetts lawmaker to cast a vote on 100 percent of the bills brought to the floor during his tenure.
Margaret Busse: Busse, 44, graduated from Harvard University and has an economics degree from Brigham Young University. She is the mother of five children.
Her priorities, according to her home page, are better focus on public education, less state overreach into municipalities' autonomy, and job creation. Her platform includes fiscal responsibility and accountability is the flagship of her platform.
She has been endorsed by more than 30 area community leaders and town officials. As of the most recent campaign-finance filings, she raised $70,000, more than any non-incumbent House candidate across the state. She maintains blog site including occasional podcasts.
She was highlighted in an Aug. 2 story at WGBH News as one of six female candidates to watch this election cycle.
Terra Friedrichs: Friedrichs, 57, has a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering and a Master's degree in finance, and works as an independent business consultant. Her professional successes include the creation of a computer app to help disaster victims find resources and file claims.
Though not officially attached to the Green Party, Friedrichs ascribes to the ideology, labeling herself a Cooperative Green Economy candidate. She is funding her campaign and does not take donations. Her primary stand is protecting the environment, though she also supports a progressive tax rate based on income. Seeks the vote of the apolitical and socially conscientious minority.
She sees water management and protection as the a major factor in economic and residential development. "We are overbuilding without considering the limits of our water and social obligations to 'actual' affordable housing," her home page reads.
The Voice asked each candidate for three reasons why voters should consider them on election day:
* "First, my track record of delivering increased state aid to every community funding and getting state grants for economic development projects and social programs for people in the district is well known."
* "I have been a leader in the fight against climate change and to protect the environment." he said, pointing out that he was recently recognized by the Environmental League of Massachusetts for the best scorecard of any legislator in the Commonwealth.
* "I pride myself on my excellence of constituent services in response to help every person in need win the district. My Republican opponent has run a very divisive and negative campaign and is not focused on new ideas or looking to solves the problems in Massachusetts."
* "I have more of the 'lived' experience than my opponents. I have kids in the district who attend school. I have worked in the private sector as well as local government, and I run a household. Neither of my opponents has children. Jamie has always been on Beacon Hill and operates from a very narrow perspective. I have a much broader stretch of experience."
* "He (Eldridge) is the most liberal legislator in the state government, but the district itself is not that liberal. He wants the government to control everything. That is a fiscal perspective that is out of step with the constituency. He is also soft on crime and this frustrates law enforcement officials I have spoken with.
* "My commitment to be connected with the community is verified by the more than 30 endorsements I've gotten. I know the municipal leaders in all of the 14 communities. He is more committed to promoting his own agenda than to the interests of the people in the district. I listen and learn."
* "I don't believe in parties, I feel like that is part of the problem. I want to end the gridlock at the Statehouse. We need new ideas.
* "I'm a small-business person who knows how to talk both sides of the aisle."
* "I have the experience of unwrapping the fiscal, environmental and social cost of these bills."