This is the third and final 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.
In this third part of the series, Frank Addivinola, Jr. talks about libraries, development, public safety, parks, technology, heritage and how he is differentiating his campaign in the State Senate race.
When the Boston Public Library was looking at closing library branches, a number of State legislators took action to force the City to keep them open. What would you tell library supporters in your district?
There is no doubt that libraries contribute an important community social function. I feel the libraries should be accessible and available. In fact, I don’t think the libraries maintain enough hours and we should be including weekends and night hours for people to visit the libraries.
Now, I know that is counter to their current financial constraints. What we need to do is look at the number of libraries and the quality of those libraries. We need to have a better understanding of the needs within the library system. That may mean that some libraries need to be relocated or replaced.
While I am not advocating for reducing the number of libraries, I am advocating for a better, more accessible system. What that means is that we may have to close some libraries that are inefficient and replace them with new, more effective libraries. I would like to see the library system expand, not get smaller, but not investing in those libraries that are too small or underutilized because they are antiquated in providing services. We should focus on expanding both the access, the amount of hours and the collections available for people.
There is no doubt that libraries are an important place for people, including young, inquisitive minds to go and explore the world around them as well as adults and senior citizens to have resources available for a safe and productive library experience. I would actually be in favor of building new libraries.
Do you support additional development in the district and if so, how would you encourage that? Do you support a Stop and Shop or Target opening in the neighborhood?
I don’t have a brand preference but I do believe that if the box stores come in, the local businesses may be displaced. Studies have shown that when large, chain stores come into neighborhoods, local businesses exit the market and we lose their services and jobs as a result. This can also lead to urban blight.
I don’t think we should be encouraging a large chain store to come into the area. If we allow a larger store to enter the market, it should be done in a moderate manner where we can support local food stores while providing consumers an alternative in a larger store. But we should not sacrifice smaller, community stores.
How about general development? Would you support incentives for development?
Development is part of progress. Although we may cling to the community the way it is today, development should be handled in a controlled way and debated in the community. After input from the local residents, decisions should be made to enhance the community, increase productivity and local quality of life. I don’t feel this should be in the hands of a controlling authority, but rather it should be up to the community to determine which developments should be permitted.
Regarding public safety, what is your reaction to the latest crime statistics showing increases this year?
Crime is a major concern and we should all feel safe as we move through the community. In recessions, there are more people that resort to crime. The community needs to be vigilant and aware.
We need to reach out within the community and identify those individuals who may have a temptation to participate in criminal activities. We should look at the police department that overall, does a good job of responding to the needs of the community. But we should encourage more awareness.
Although the North End is a safe area statistically within the country, it does not make it immune from crime. We need to have people aware and able to access police officers when they see things that are criminal. The police need to reach out to the community and walk within the neighborhood and making it known they are there. The physical presence of police is a good deterrent. In a community that is more aware, we should be able to reduce crime.
I have seen you campaigning at a number of neighborhood parks, including Christopher Columbus Park and the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. Regarding the Greenway, how would you judge the performance of the Greenway Conservancy and MassDOT, its regulator?
I have not seen any specific performance reports, but I would say in general that parks are an important part of the community. They are a place for people to go and have a tranquil period, to sit, relax and for children to play. Parks should be clean and safe so people can go and enjoy themselves. They are an important part of urban life and we should encourage more parks and open spaces.
The Greenway itself should be preserved as open space without commercial activity. That does not mean we can’t have recreational facilities associated with the Greenway, but it should an open area within the city for people to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily activities. The parks should remain the domain of the public.
In general, we should encourage more parks. A good example would be MassPort’s park development near Route 1A in East Boston.
Turning to the State Senate race, how are you differentiating your campaign from Senator Petruccelli?
I am a first-time candidate and have not taken a single dollar from a special interest group, any union or political action committee (PAC). Because I am not financed by special interest groups, I have no allegiance to advocate for special interests. My concern is to represent the voters and not entangle myself with special interest groups. As a result, I do not have to appease people that have financially supported my candidacy.
The other major distinction is that I have come from the world of practical experience. I have not come through the political system. Being a private citizen, I am more aware of the realities facing the common person because, in fact, I face many of those issues myself.
How are you financing your campaign?
We have received donations from voters inside and outside the district, but not from special interest groups.
On your website, you talk about a balance of power through a 2-party system. What do you mean?
The balance of power is fundamental as established by our founding fathers. The legislature is balanced by the judicial and executive branches. What we need in Massachusetts is to have two parties look at the issues before them from a different perspective. When there is a healthy debate about the issues before the people and there is compromise, we can develop a more efficient way to deliver services throughout the Commonwealth.
What we have now on Beacon Hill is a one-party system that has existed for many years. A one-party system creates a distortion of perspective and the voter is not represented efficiently. In such a system, people are trying to negotiate those laws that they see favorable. Over time, we develop cross-pollination where the legislators are working collectively to advance their own agenda. I feel they often forget about the voter. Without a balance on Beacon Hill, many issues that should be seriously debated are not brought on to the floor.
Has the election of Republican U.S. Senator Scott Brown changed the political landscape in Massachusetts? Is that a reason you decided to run for office?
I had considered running for office before Scott Brown was elected. I don’t feel that his election has changed the political climate in Massachusetts, but it demonstrated the frustration of the people. As a strong candidate in the Republican Party, he provided a choice to the voters other than the traditional Democratic candidate.
Have you been endorsed by other politicians or organizations?
I have not asked any politicians to endorse me. I want to be independent of such allegiances and represent the voters. I do not want to align myself with other politicians or special interests.
I am endorsed by the Citizens for Limited Taxation and by a few other groups, none of which have been asked or contributed financially to my campaign.
How has your heritage and upbringing influenced your views?
I am 100% Italian-American. My grandparents arrived from Italy in 1909 on my fraternal side and approximately 1911 on my maternal side. These were individuals that came to America because of the opportunities it provided and to be gainfully employed. They wanted to achieve the American dream. They were hard working people. Both sides of my family bought real estate and became homeowners here in America. As a result, with industrious behavior, they were able to improve the quality of life for themselves and their children.
I come from a working class background. As a result, I am in touch with the concerns of the working person. I want to enter political office to preserve the American dream and the opportunity for those people who are able and willing to be gainfully employed and gain rewards in direct proportion to their efforts. I recognize there are some individuals that are less fortunate and we must as a society respect their rights and dignities.
I feel that what has happened in the last few decades in the United States is that we have shifted away from the capitalist, free-enterprise, American dream mentality toward a socialist entitlement system. Although entitlements are necessary as a smaller component, it defeats the purpose of industrious behavior. I believe in the American dream.
What would North End / Waterfront residents be surprised to know about you?
I think people would be surprised that although I have never been a candidate for office before, with their support, I can be victorious on November 2nd. They would be surprised to know that once I am elected in office, I will continue to listen to their concerns.
As you know, NorthEndWaterfront.com is a website with several online means of distribution, such as the email newsletter, Facebook and Twitter. How are you communicating with voters during the campaign and are you a user of personal technology systems?
My campaign maintains a website, www.FrankAddivinola.com, and we have had that since the early days of the campaign. We receive emails and respond to those emails. We also use Facebook as a way to inform voters of what is happening in the campaign.
But none of those are a substitute for direct voter contact. My approach is to get out and meet the voters and speak with people individually. I try to take time to listen to their perspective. What this boils down to is that every person has their own concerns and issues. I try to understand how I can focus my attention on those issues.
Once I am elected, I will maintain a website. Voters will always be able to reach me and I would like to be accessible in the community. I am a very approachable person and my personality is one of my stronger traits because people know that I am concerned about how they feel.
What do you think your chances of being elected on Election Day?
In Massachusetts, we have a history of re-electing incumbents. However, I would say that during this election, the overall mood seems to be anti-incumbent and we will see a shift. People are learning about me and the fiscal conservative policies that I represent. I think I have an excellent chance of being elected if those voters that are concerned about the future show up at the polls and cast their vote for a better Massachusetts.
Thank you, Frank, for taking the time to talk to NorthEndWaterfront.com.