This is the first part of an interview series with the Republican candidate for State Senate, Frank Addivinola, Jr. who is running against Democratic incumbent State Senator Anthony Petruccelli for the First Suffolk Middlesex District. In addition to the North End, the district includes Beacon Hill, Cambridge, East Boston, Revere and Winthrop. You can read the interview series with Sen. Petruccelli at these links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
In this part of this series, Frank Addivinola, Jr. explains what he brings to the table as a Senate candidate. He talks about what he is hearing from the voters and the changes he would work toward in the Senate. Frank discusses how to encourage business growth, boost the economy and create jobs by reducing taxes and limiting government spending. He also shares his views on bringing casinos to Massachusetts.
Why are you running for State Senate?
Let me start by saying that I am a first-time candidate. I have never run for political office, nor have I ever been a political appointee. Massachusetts is facing a serious financial crisis and tough economic times are impacting many families. Jobs have been lost because many companies have had to downsize, go out of business or leave the state. I am frustrated with the current state of affairs on Beacon Hill where we have legislators supposedly representing the people but mostly working politics.
I feel that Massachusetts government has failed to face these economic realities and has had difficulty making appropriate adjustments to our budget, to our taxation policy and to the issues impacting the communities.
I decided to enter the race because I am frustrated with the actions of our legislature. From the votes my opponent has taken, it is obvious that he does not represent the values of the people in this district. Instead, he blindly follows the leadership of the ruling party on Beacon Hill.
From talking to voters, I understand that the majority of people do not approve of the job that the legislature is doing in general. They have not been working to create jobs, promote business and have failed to respond appropriately to government spending, the issue of taxation and other important areas relevant to the community.
I am confident that I can represent the people more appropriately. I have real life experience and can see issues from the point of view of a working person. I know business and I have a good understanding of the issues that face business owners and the people they employ. I know how to run a business from an academic level and from hands on understanding through owning several businesses.
I noticed you have seven college and post-graduate degrees in several subject areas. Wow. What is your main profession today?
I spend most of my time in the classroom facilitating discussions and teaching college students on issues relating to business. I also teach life sciences as well as forensics and criminal justice. I teach at Northeastern University, Lasell College and medical ethics at Bay State in Boston. I am continually interacting with younger people that are themselves trying to define their future and their role in society.
How does your past education and work experience qualify you to be a State Senator?
By itself, being a university instructor does not give me a particular expertise or credential to the position that I am seeking, but I do believe it is a nice complement to having run businesses in the past.
You have been campaigning and talking to voters. What are they telling you they want you to do if you are elected to the State House?
The #1 issue on voters’ minds is the economy. Voters feel that the lack of growth in the economy is a concern. Many people are moving out of the state because Massachusetts is not an affordable place to live. It has issues related to healthcare costs, taxes and licensing/permitting fees that limit businesses from expanding in the Commonwealth.
How would you create jobs in Massachusetts?
I feel we need to reduce the size of public government that will spur private enterprises to provide services and goods in the marketplace. As companies grow and expand, they hire workers who can then participate more productively in the scheme of living in the community and buying their own goods and services. The economy grows when the government is not taking a large portion of people’s money but allowing — as our founding father’s proposed – a capitalist system where people work for their money and are rewarded proportionate to their efforts. Then, they can decide to use that money to invest or consume goods and services
Let’s talk about taxes. At a recent neighborhood meeting, residents asked tax officials to explain the increase in property taxes. I understand that you are advocating for a repeal of the recent sales tax increase and to reduce the increase in the alcohol tax and other local municipality taxes. Please tell us how you would shift the tax burden?
As a brief background, our district is fortunate that it is not a border district next to New Hampshire which has no sales tax or near Rhode Island which has a lower sales tax. So, we are a bit geographically isolated and many people don’t have the alternative to shop where the sales tax is lower. Many parts of Massachusetts are hurting because business owners are not able to sustain their businesses because consumers travel over the border.
With Massachusetts’ higher taxes, it allows government to expand but it does not allow businesses to expand and hire additional workers. When businesses are discouraged from growing, it reduces the opportunity for people to support those businesses. As people go into a restaurant or retail establishment when the tax is added to the expense of those goods, it becomes more expensive to buy those goods or services and each of us is obligated to purchase less. As a result, we have less money circulating in the economy and the money is collected more from taxes at the government level.
In Massachusetts, we don’t have a legislature that is fiscally responsible enough to reduce spending. As the state continues to collect more money from taxes, they have expanded their budget. Even though we have expanded our taxes in the Commonwealth, at the burden of the citizens, we actually have an inflated and unsustainable budget.
On the spending side, how would you balance that?
I am not talking about reducing services. I am talking about a more efficient government that can deliver services at a lower cost. As we bring more people into the state government, we actually reduce the efficiency and decrease incentives for competition for service providers and increase our liabilities for pensions.
We should allow free enterprise to work. We should contract with companies that competitively bid on services. Citizens should have the advantage of higher service quality at a lower cost.
The largest legislative issue in the past year has been introducing casinos to the Commonwealth. Would you have voted in favor of the Senate casino bill?
As far as casinos are concerned, I don’t think the bill that passed the legislature was in the best interest of the Commonwealth. I feel that the casino bill was sponsored by special interest groups. Personally, I am not a fan of gambling and I am concerned about the effects on the community.
However, I am opposed to the government banning any legal business. I believe in free markets. I know a lot of people in the district are in support of having casinos in Massachusetts. And if they are in support of that, it is my responsibility to advocate on the voters’ behalf. So although I am not a gambler myself, I would encourage the advancement of a responsible casino bill.
The casinos could create employment opportunities for people. However, I don’t think casinos are a solution to the current financial crisis in the Commonwealth. So, the casino bill that was advanced on Beacon Hill was flawed in many aspects because it did not address some serious issues with introducing gambling to Massachusetts. Therefore, due to the lack of proper time management by the legislature, the bill was not debated diligently and many serious issues were left out of the discussion.
The bill itself did not address the infrastructure concerns and it did not give back enough financial rewards to the communities that ultimately will bear the responsibilities of the social and economic burdens associated with gambling. I believe casinos should not be used as “quick fix” or how the State should fortify the budget through the revenue associated with gambling. At the end of the debate, we all saw how the power struggle on Beacon Hill moved the people’s interest to the bottom priority and nothing got done.
I would be open to a new casino debate, but in a different context. The decision should be how we can benefit the people and the economy, not how we can cater to special interests.
Senator Petruccelli sponsored a referendum for East Boston on the casino issue that was included in the bill. Would you also support such a referendum for Eastie or the entire district?
The opinions that I hear on the casino issue vary dramatically depending on where people live. Many East Boston voters seem to be in favor of the casino while those in the North End seem to be against it. So, we have a split interest and what they perceive to be the cost benefit of casinos in Massachusetts.
The communities in East Boston will experience the greatest impact and their concerns should be addressed. However, the decision for locating the casino in East Boston does provide for some employment and economic benefits. They also will bear the social ramifications and detriments of having a casino in their community.
The issue should be debated on a more regional level and not just among those impacted in a particular casino location. So, I don’t think we should focus our attention only on the voters in East Boston. We have to be concerned and acknowledge their issues and include that discussion in a larger debate of the costs and benefits of casinos, and what type of casinos whether in East Boston or elsewhere in Massachusetts.
Can you be more specific as to what offsets you would expect from a casino developer?
It is similar to any other development that impacts the community. The developer should be required to give monies to the municipality impacted. Then, the municipality would invest in the infrastructure to accommodate that development. For example, sidewalks, new sewers, open spaces and things of that nature.
With the casino, we should acknowledge that the community will suffer from the influx of a tremendous number of people and the local municipality should have money available to make the necessary improvements, such as if the streets need to be widened and to decrease the inconvenience. We should not be looking at the two-prong approach where (1) we examine how the casinos can maximize their profit and (2) then make a short-term revenue increase for the State budget. We need to look more long-term into the issues of the casino.
Stay tuned for upcoming parts of this series when Frank Addivinola talks about healthcare, education and local neighborhood issues. You can read the interview series with Sen. Petruccelli at these links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.