Five talented candidates are competing for the Democratic nomination for an open state Senate seat in the Third Middlesex District. Voters in the Sept. 6 primary really can’t go wrong. But Michael Barrett of Lexington stands out for his political experience, private-sector acumen, and evident enthusiasm.
Barrett, 64, served as a state senator from Cambridge from 1987 to 1994. He left Beacon Hill after an unsuccessful run for governor. Instead of going the usual lobbying route, he established himself in the private sector as an information technologist who specializes in health care environments. But Barrett was always prescient. In 1990, he wrote a seminal article in a national journal arguing for a longer school day and school year as a means to compete in a global economy. Today, he still doesn’t shy away from controversial issues, evidenced by his support for an increase in the gas tax to address the state’s transportation needs.
Joe Kearns Goodwin, 34, is a significant presence in this race. The Concord resident developed his leadership skills the hard way — under combat conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was fortunate to receive history lessons from his father, who advised presidents, and his mother, a noted biographer and historian. But he put those lessons into action on his own.
The other candidates in this race — public defender Mara Dolan of Concord, former Weston selectman Joseph Mullin, and engineer Alexander Buck of Chelmsford — have much to offer as well. But Barrett’s experience and expertise, particularly on education, make him the best bet.
In the Republican primary, Concord selectman Gregory Howes is a self-described “Yankee Republican’’ who understands the need for a safety net but believes state government can provide needed services while still controlling costs. He cites his own role in protecting town services without the need for an override of Proposition 2 1/2. As a pro-choice candidate who supports gay marriage, Howes is a better fit for the district than his more conservative rival Sandi Martinez of Chelmsford.