The two men running to represent Franklin and parts of Medway in the state House of Representatives are both lawyers who own their own practices and grew up in the area, but that’s where the similarities end.
Democrat Jeff Roy of Franklin, and Republican Richard Eustis of Medway bring different experiences and have opposing views about the direction the state is heading.
The two men are campaigning for the 10th Norfolk District seat, which was left without an incumbent when Democrat James Vallee resigned in June to take a job in the private sector. The election is Nov. 6.
Roy, 51, has 14 years experience in local government, something he says distinguishes him from his opponent.
“I spent 10 years on the Franklin School Committee, nine as chairman, and that truly tested my ability,” he said. “We successfully navigated through some tough terrain and difficult issues.”
During his tenure, Roy said, Franklin built two elementary schools, two middle schools, and an early-childhood education center, and the groundwork was put in place for a new high school.
He said he is perhaps most proud of the Franklin Arts Academy, “a school within a school” at Franklin High that gives students interested in visual and performing arts the chance to concentrate in those disciplines while completing their graduation requirements.
Roy said the arts academy was started without additional school funding, and has provided an opportunity for students with a passion for the arts who perhaps didn’t thrive in traditional classroom settings.
“I’ve had mothers tell me they wouldn’t be looking at colleges with their sons or daughters without the arts academy,” he said.
Roy said he believes the arts academy is an example of how government should provide opportunities for people to help themselves.
Roy said his priority, if elected, will be jobs and the economy, and said he’d be willing to explore rolling back the state sales tax to 5 percent from the current 6.25.
“I’d be in favor of anything that puts more money into people’s pockets that they can spend,” he said.
Roy also said he would advocate for infrastructure improvements and grants to help small companies grow, and would push for a continuation of the efforts already started on Beacon Hill to eliminate outdated and unnecessary business regulations.
“Massachusetts is on the right track and I want to be part of the team that keeps us on that track,” he said.
Local aid and school funding also will be a focus for Roy, who said he benefitted from a quality education at Milford High School before going on to Bates College and Boston College Law School.
“I want to see those same opportunities for the next generation,” he said. “That is why I’m putting a heavy emphasis on maintaining or increasing Chapter 70 funds,” as state aid for education is known.
Roy said he will take a bipartisan approach to getting things done on Beacon Hill, and try to bring civility back to government.
“I’ll work with people, no matter what their party, and come up with solutions for the common good,” he said. “We need to work together.”
Eustis, 45, believes his experiences as a commissioned officer in the Navy, which he joined after graduating from Suffolk University Law School, heading the Worcester County Bar Advocates, and as a father of two children in the Medway public schools have prepared him for the job of state representative.
His background also “runs parallel with the interests of my constituents,” Eustis said.
He said he believes Beacon Hill has a “failing record” of attracting companies to the state and keeping them here, and he blames legislators for creating an environment that sends the wrong message.
“Everyone elected should be reaching out to business,” Eustis said. “Instead, everyone I’ve spoken to has expressed frustration by the attitude of their government.”
He recalled speaking with the owner of a small company who said it cost him $500 to register his business in Massachusetts.
“In Maine it would have cost him $25,” he said.
“We need to reach out to the largest and the smallest businesses across the state and proactively ask what our state government can do for them to develop and retain jobs in Massachusetts,” Eustis said.
To help make the state more business friendly, Eustis said, he would “revisit the state’s commercial tax policy,” and would consider lowering the tax rate and offering tax incentives for job creation to accelerate growth.
He also said he would reexamine fees and regulations in an effort to create a climate more amenable to economic development.
“The status quo is not working in this state. . . I have not talked to one voter who believes this state government is heading in the right direction,” he said.
Eustis also called himself “a fierce opponent of any wasteful spending on Beacon Hill.”
“We have limited resources in the state, and every wasted dollar is a dollar taken away from the people in our community struggling in the shadows, who are genuinely in need,” he said.
He said he has “watched millions of dollars being wasted” by the Democratic-controlled Legislature, which he said created 200 new government jobs paying at least $100,000 during the last term.
In addition, he said, Governor Deval Patrick’s own figures show the state is spending $1 billion a year on benefits for immigrants who are here illegally, including reduced-tuition aid and health care.
“I do not want to provide in-state tuition rates to the children of illegal immigrants when legal residents are struggling to put their kids though college,” Eustis said.
“These are luxuries the state just can’t afford.”
Ellen Ishkanian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.