Democratic incumbent Michael O. Moore is trying to fend off a challenge by Republican Stephen Simonian this fall in a state Senate race for the Second Worcester District in which both candidates say creating jobs and aiding small businesses are top priorities.
The issues strike close to home for Simonian, who was laid off as a consultant for EMC Corp. in December and has been looking for a new job while campaigning for the Senate.
Simonian, who is a selectman in Auburn, said the state needs to do more to keep jobs from being shipped overseas and to help ease the burden on small businesses.
“I just don’t see a lot of that going on right now,” Simonian said. “I’m not the kind of person to sit on the sidelines and complain. I want to try and make things better.”
Moore, who lives in Millbury and was elected to the Senate seat in 2008, said he has worked hard to help Massachusetts residents get the training they need to find jobs and led an effort to reduce health care costs for small businesses.
“I have a record of success,” he said. “I think my record shows I’m committed to the people of the Second Middlesex District.”
Voters will decide between the two candidates in the general election on Nov. 6. The district includes Auburn, Grafton, Leicester, Millbury, Shrewsbury, Upton, and portions of Worcester and Northbridge. Neither Moore nor Simonian faced a challenger in the state primary elections in September.
Simonian, who is 50, is serving his first term as a selectman in Auburn, where he previously served as a Town Meeting member. He said he has worked in technology for the last 14 years, but was laid off by EMC in 2004 and then rehired by the company six months later as a consultant before he was laid off again in December.
He said he has knocked on thousands of doors throughout the district during his campaign for Senate, and he knows there are people who are hurting because they are either out of work, or have taken pay freezes or pay cuts to keep their jobs.
“I identify a lot with the issues that many of the voters are up against,” Simonian said.
He said small businesses are struggling with unfriendly state laws and regulations, and he doesn’t believe Moore has always worked to bring in more local aid to the communities he represents.
“A lot of what he does seems more for the benefit of Boston than for the district, and I think if you are going to be the senator for the Second Worcester District, the district should come first,” Simonian said.
Moore, who is 49 and served as a selectman in Millbury from 2001 to 2008, said he has worked hard for the district and has remained accessible to the people he represents.
“I’ve shown that the issues that they bring to me, I take them to Boston and I represent them,” he said. “I don’t represent Boston.”
Moore serves as chairman of the Joint Committee on Higher Education, which he said has just completed a major reform of the state’s community college system to help ensure that workers have the skills they need for jobs that are going unfilled in Massachusetts.
He said he has made local aid one of his top priorities and school funding has increased in each of the past four years.
This year, Moore said, he also led a successful effort to pass new legislation that eliminates fines that small businesses were having to pay for not providing health care to some of their workers, even if those workers were receiving health care through another means, such as a spouse or parent’s plan, or through a program such as Medicare.
Moore said he will continue working with the chambers of commerce to address other issues that may be preventing small businesses from hiring.
According to the candidates’ most recent filings with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance, Moore had raised about $76,500 for his campaign between Jan. 1 and Aug. 19. He had spent about $55,000 on his campaign in the same period.
Simonian had raised about $5,700 in the same period and had spent about $4,100, according to his campaign finance records.