STATE REP RACE Q&A: Dave Robertson Discusses State Rep Pay, Environmental Issues

WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington Apple is asking weekly questions to the seven candidates running in contested primaries for the Wilmington/Tewksbury State Representative seat (19th Middlesex).

Below, in his own words, are the responses to this week’s questions from candidate Dave Robertson (D-Tewksbury).

#9) Last year, there was a controversial bill in which members of the state legislature voted to give themselves large raises (up to to 45% in some cases), and included judicial raises in the bill so that the voters couldn’t potentially override the bill in a ballot question. The salary increases for elected officials came at a time where taxes were increasing and certain services were being cut. As state representative, how would you vote on such a matter? (Mind you, members of the New Hampshire state legislature earn only $200 per year.) Additionally, if elected, do you intend on working a second job or will you focus fully on your legislator position?

Last year, there was a controversial bill in which members of the state legislature voted to give themselves large raises (up to to 45% in some cases), and included judicial raises in the bill so that the voters couldn’t potentially override the bill in a ballot question. The salary increases for elected officials came at a time where taxes were increasing and certain services were being cut. As state representative, how would you vote on such a matter? (Mind you, members of the New Hampshire state legislature earn only $200 per year.) Additionally, if elected, do you intend on working a second job or will you focus fully on your legislator position?

I have been looking forward to this question. First and foremost, without question, if chosen by our district I promise that being your State Representative will be my only job. Unlike the view of, I believe that to properly represent the people one needs to be dedicated 24/7, 365 days a year. It has been my job to serve you over the past years, and I will not have any second paycheck, business on the side, or interests other than the fine citizens of this community.

That said, I would vote against any further pay increases, but I also want to set the record straight that the job is not a lucrative one in terms of a paycheck. For those who are curious, and it is public record, the next State Representative will make $62,500. This is well-paying, but not astronomical when compared to other jobs. I also want to point out the comparison to NH is an extraordinarily poor example, as NH is a part-time legislature with no constituent services and a powerful Executive Office. Rather, public assistance is done through the Governor’s office or on a town level in a far less effective manner, where dollar for dollar resources are not allocated as efficiently, systems are not integrated, and things such as state-wide veteran services pale in comparison to our own. It is apples and oranges. Perhaps it is too anecdotal, but I once was assigned a case where a homeless veteran from NH called us from a local hotel. I was able to find and locate housing for him using his own resources before the NH Department of Veteran Services even called us back, and his State Representative and Senator’s office simply never returned the calls I placed on his behalf.

People expect the best constituent services, and they need a candidate in that office who will always be available, already has the contact and experiences, and will not treat the title as an achievement, second-job, or post-retirement plan.

#10) The late Representative Miceli fought hard on environmental issues. Even though the Olin Superfund site, the Maple Meadow Landfill, and the New England Transrail project were not in his district, he went to bat for the Wilmington residents to help in the detrimental impacts from these sites. Do you have a clear knowledge of the threats from these sites and even though not in your district, will you fight for the residents of Wilmington like Jim Miceli did?

The late Representative Miceli fought hard on environmental issues. Even though the Olin Superfund site, the Maple Meadow Landfill, and the New England Transrail project were not in his district, he went to bat for the Wilmington residents to help in the detrimental impacts from these sites. Do you have a clear knowledge of the threats from these sites and even though not in your district, will you fight for the residents of Wilmington like Jim Miceli did?

Not only would I fight as passionately as Representative Miceli; I learned from him and am already well-educated on these issues. When it comes to Transrail I am the only candidate who has spoken to the EPA, DEP, NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board), and other parties fighting the Transrail proposal. I have spoken to the lead parties for the federal government (which feelings on the current administration aside, have been ordered to fasttrack developments like this) and know the men and women in charge. I don’t wish to panic the people of Wilmington, but this proposal will rear its ugly head again.

I wish to ask the people reading this, which candidate in this race has already appeared arguing against the proposal? Which one has seen the tentative proposal plans, the blueprints for proposed sidings for the railcars, or the report on the stasis of the “sarcophagus” at the site. (A concrete slurry wall meant to contain the continuing leakage of chemicals). I have seen the technical details, and I know that this development would destroy that section of the town of Wilmington, and am ready to dig in and fight.

I was also down at the hearings also fighting against the proposed concrete plant on Eames St, a “simple, small” proposal that would have brought chaos to the neighborhoods both in terms of the natural environment as well as the aesthetic environment. No other candidate was there, nor even issued a statement on behalf of the residents concerns. Thankfully, this was halted and the site is not being used for concrete production. I also responded to, and testified against the proposed route of the Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline, which would have traversed hundreds of residential, commercial, and other private properties in both Tewksbury and Wilmington. I have not checked the entirety of the records, but as far as I know I am the only candidate who had spoken multiple times, if at all, against the proposed route in defense of our neighbors. I worked with Representative Miceli at this time, seeking to strike balance with the proposal, by routing the pipeline down Route 93 before the company abandoned the plans.

As a Scout, and reasonable person I believe our environmental preservation must be balanced with our intelligent development. The use of an environmentally devastated site makes no sense for a heavy industrial application (nor just about any at all). I am already intimately familiar with legislation, such as net-metering, toxic chemical use reduction proposals, and more.

Lastly, I want to say that it does not matter that a certain district may be technically under another legislator, I will work with these individuals in conjunction to do what is right by our home towns and know the other legislators very well. I already served hundreds of residents in these areas, fighting a larger development that is unwanted or needed is part of the job as it impacts not just these neighborhoods, but our hometowns overall.

(NOTE: Do you have a question for the candidates? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com and it may be asked in a future Q&A or in a debate.)

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