Q: You’re beginning your 6th term in the legislature. What were your most important achievements there?
It’s a couple of things, representing Andover, Lawrence, and Tewksbury. One of the things recently that I was most proud about, I was doing a radio interview and the big issue was about crime in Boston which is really a bad thing, and I was talking about the success that we’ve had in Lawrence with the way we’ve reduced crime. We used to be the arson capital of New England, we used to be the stolen car capital of New England, and each year we have reduced crime. This quarter we’re down 14% over what our crime rates were a year ago. I [attribute] that directly to the fact that we’ve made Lawrence a priority for community policing dollars, that we’ve given police officers the tools they need to succeed, and unlike the federal government where President Bush has cut the cops program, something that President Clinton did, we’ve kept our commitment to cities like Lawrence. As a result we’ve had a significant reduction in crime. So if you ask me right now, off the tip of my tongue, that is what I’m very proud about.
I’m also very proud about the Safe Haven law that I helped write and pass. On Monday we’re going to announce that we’ve had the 6th baby safely given to a safe haven. We’ve saved six lives. When I wrote that bill, all I wanted to do was just save one. I believe that is a great success. I’m also very proud that I was one of many in the legislature who helped out on passing stem cell research. There are people in my district that have Parkinson’s disease and other tough illnesses that are dependent on this research, and I’m proud to have helped play a part with many others in passing stem cell research in the state.
I could go on and on — there are economic development issues in the city of Lawrence that have been very helpful, we got them some funding to help them attract companies and grow the economy. When Malden Mills had a major fire, we helped get them some funding to try to keep jobs locally. I believe there are a lot of good things that I have played a role in and that’s why you do it.
Q: Which of those would you say is the most important to continue on a federal level?
It’s a two-part answer. On a federal level — I’m going to switch gears for a second — one of my frustrations, what I feel we need to do better is funding for education. I feel that with all 29 communities that are in the Fifth, they are not getting funded properly for education. If the federal government would fund special education where they told people they would, instead of at 18%, they’d fund it at 40%, then it would be incredibly helpful to so many communities. So I think that’s the biggest issue that, if we’re going to reauthorize No Child Left Behind, if we’re going to talk the talk, we have to walk the walk. For lack of better words, if we’re going to talk about it, we have to fund it. I think that’s a major failure of President Bush, that he helped get this thing with Senator Kennedy, but there are supposed to be dollars, and it’s never happened. That’s had a direct impact. Another thing I can get into later when I talk about the fuel cell issue I’ve been working on.
Q: What do you think, from talking to people the past few weeks, is the biggest concern on the minds of people in the Fifth District?
I’ve been talking about three areas. Obviously, Iraq is very critical. I want to get out of there as quickly as we can. I support what Senator Biden has talked about, with a three-state solution.
Q: Why do you favor that?
I’m very upset that 3000 Americans have died and there’s close to 50,000 people who are hurt, but I’m also upset that 60,000 Iraqis have died. I believe that right now we’re refereeing a civil war. I think the course we’re on right now, I don’t feel has any direction.
If you look at the history, any time there’s an authoritative rule and that authoritative rule has been displaced, meaning that a dictator has been overthrown, ethnic factions don’t get along. Look at the former British empire with India and Pakistan, the former Soviet Union, and recently under President Clinton with Yugoslavia. I think in the end, no matter what we do, that’s going to happen to that region. I think we should immediately pivot and start work on that now. I believe that’s the quickest way we can get out of there and try to have peace in the region. I want to get out of there as quickly as we can, I want to get our people home, and I want to stop spending nine billion dollars a month in costs.
Q: Would you have voted in favor of the Iraq appropriation bill with the timeline added?
Yeah, as far as the resolution goes, I would support that, but if I were a member of the caucus, I would have been pushing for a resolution that would include some type of the Biden plan.