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Democrats vying for Hargraves’ seat trade views on the issues

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

By Hiroko Sato

MedidaNews

GROTON — Tony Saboliauskas said he wants to bring some “common sense to the state government.”

The Pepperell VFW treasurer said that means there should be no more tax incentives to the film industry when the state is struggling to pay for education.

Protecting the environment is important, he added, but money should be first used to help feed working people rather than spending it on sustainable energy gadgets like solar panels.

For Jane Morriss, taking care of the environment means creating jobs. The Groton writer and former aide to state Rep. Robert Hargraves, R-Groton, envisions the region becoming an epicenter of indoor farming, using cutting-edge technologies so that people will have food to buy and places to work locally.

Helping the film industry also creates employment, she said.

Jesse Reich believes Massachusetts’ future is dependent on how the state fosters the alternative-energy industry. There is no need to choose the economy or the environment, said Reich, a biodiesel company owner, adding that the state has intellectual resources and infrastructure. Now, all that’s needed is the leadership on Beacon Hill to help green industries compete with oil giants like BP.

Saboliauskas, Morriss and Reich — Democrats vying for the party’s nomination for the First Middlesex District seat in the Statehouse — exchanged their views on a wide range of issues Tuesday night at a candidates forum held in Groton.

Hosted by the town Democratic committees of Groton, Tyngsboro, Dunstable, and Pepperell, the event drew several dozen residents to Groton-Dunstable Regional High School.

Saboliauskas, a Vietnam War veteran from Pepperell, stressed that he is a candidate for the middle class. He said he wants to give a thorough review of hundreds of state agencies to see how they could be consolidated. Any savings made from agency mergers should directly benefit the taxpayers, he said.

Saboliauskas added that he is concerned about an aspect of the Municipal Relief Act that would allow municipalities to “design plan” health insurance without unions’ consent, as it would result in an increased cost burden for workers.

Morriss touted herself as “the only candidate with experience” on Beacon Hill, working as Hargraves’ aide. She said she would make ordinary citizens’ voices heard in the halls of the Statehouse.

“I want to empower the people of my district to take over their government and get involved,” Morriss said.

Morriss supports the Municipal Relief Act because, she said, communities would not be able to build a thriving economy without good infrastructure.

Reich, an Ayer Finance Committee member who works as an assistant professor of chemistry at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, stressed the importance of supporting the green industry.

Increased employment opportunities and more independence from foreign oil would help Massachusetts improve its economy and sufficiently fund education, retain talented graduates of local colleges in the communities to raise their families, and help seniors stay in their homes, he said.