Voters in the Fourth Middlesex House District will see a rematch between Republican Representative Steven L. Levy and Democrat Danielle Gregoire for a seat that they have both held.
Levy defeated Gregoire by about 100 votes two years ago in the district, which then covered all of Marlborough and one precinct in Southborough. After redistricting, the Fourth Middlesex district now includes 10 of 14 precincts in Marlborough and parts of Westborough and Southborough.
Both candidates are from Marlborough.
Gregoire, 33, was born and raised in Marlborough and is a lawyer who worked in the office of former state Representative Steven LeDuc before being elected in 2010 to succeed him when he became assistant magistrate at Marlborough District Court.
She says she is an independent voice who, as a legislator, always put the people of her district first.
She said as a Democrat she voted against party leadership on the budget when it contained new taxes she believed weren’t in the best interest of the people of the district, even though the politically expedient move may have been to support the speaker of the House, Robert DeLeo, the Democrat from Winthrop.
“I will continue to do that,” she said, adding that the district needs a representative who shares the values and concerns of the district.
Gregoire said she will put getting people to work on the top of her agenda if elected. “I have always been a supporter of small business,” she said.
As a legislator, she said she visited a different small business in Marlborough every week to get a firsthand sense of what businesses were doing and what they needed to succeed.
“I will expand those visits to Northborough and Westborough,” she said, adding that she has maintained her relationships with the Massachusetts Office of Business Development and the Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment.
She said she would look at overregulation that can make doing business in Massachusetts more expensive than its neighbors.
“We need some regulations to keep people safe,” she said. “But sometimes these regulations, though they may have been passed with the best intentions, are strangling business.”
Gregoire said as a legislator she was also able to work with her colleagues to get things done, including blocking proposed toll hikes on the Massachusetts Turnpike that would have nearly doubled the cost of travel into Boston.
“I was able to work cooperatively,” she said.
Gregoire called the last session on Beacon Hill productive, citing work passing an economic development plan and health care containment legislation as proof that the state government is not plagued with the same “partisan gridlock as Capitol Hill.”
“But our representative hasn’t participated,” she said. “We deserve to have a seat at the table and right now we don’t have it.”
Gregoire also said “updating” the public education system to train students not only for college, but also for careers will be a priority. “We need to have better programs to retrain people for jobs of today and for the future,” she said.
Levy, 47, is an accountant and former member of the Marlborough City Council where he served for six years. He said his primary focus as a state representative is “fiscal responsibility, transparency, and accountability.”
“There is a lack of controls in every state department,” he said.
Levy said there are programs in place to assist people in need, “but we don’t have any metrics to see if they work. We are continuing to spend money, but no one is verifying whether the systems are working.”
He said he is particularly proud of the work done by freshman Republicans to pass a law that put restrictions on how electronic benefit transfer payments can be used by recipients. While the move does not save money, Levy said it is an important step in tracking how taxpayer’s money is spent.
“Taxpayers should not be paying for tobacco and alcohol,” he said.
Levy said the next push will be to prohibit recipients from using their electronic benefit cards to withdraw cash.
He said he is also proud of the work he and Republicans on Beacon Hill did to pass the Valor Act which expands benefits and access to services for veterans, and “Melissa’s Law,” which makes repeat violent offenders ineligible for parole in certain cases.
“A habitual offenders bill has been refiled every two years and we finally got it passed,” he said.
Levy said jobs are also a top priority, and that he supported the economic development bill passed at the end of the last session. However, he said, “We need more.”
The state needs to look at reducing taxes on business such as the corporate excise tax, he said, and introduce more tax credits for investors and all companies doing business in the state.
“The Legislature wants to pick winners and losers and focus on specific kinds of companies rather than create broad based tax relief across the board,” Levy said, pointing to green economy and biotechnology as favorites of the Democrats.
Levy also took issue with a double standard that allows debate at the State House to take place behind closed doors while local boards and committees must follow strict Open Meeting Law rules that mandate public access to most discussion.
“Everything is a foregone conclusion by the time it even gets to the floor for debate,” he said, adding that many members don’t even bother to study every bill being decided.
“A majority of legislators just look at the speaker to find out how to vote instead of doing what is in the best interests of their district and their community,” he said.