On Tuesday, the candidates, a mix of Democrats, Republicans, and one Independent, answered questions and explained how they would approach the job of State Senator.
The two democratic candidates, Paul Feeney of Foxborough and Ted Philips of Sharon, were asked how they would work to get more progressive legislature passed in the Senate. Both Philips and Feeney agreed that debate would need to be more transparent, with sessions taking place on the floor as opposed to in caucus.
Feeney - a former selectman and state coordinator for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign – spoke of equality between members of government to pass legislation, and dividing power from the small group that currently holds it.
As part of his platform, Feeney said he would work to stand up for all individuals who need representation in government.
“Can you imagine a system in Massachusetts where we can empower rank-and-file members?” he said.
Working in the State House for the past decade – most recently as an aide to State Rep. Louis Kafka, D-Sharon – Philips said he felt his experience had prepared him to be a senator and that he has a number of existing relationships with both Democrats and Republicans.
He also spoke of his dedication to constituent-based legislature, citing a time in which he helped residents get a law passed ensuring cleft palate treatment was covered by medical insurance, after they came to him with an issue in which they were struggling to get coverage for their son.
The Republican candidates, Dr. Tim Hempton and Harry Brousaides of Walpole, and Independent candidate Joe Shortsleeve of Medfield were asked if they supported Donald Trump during the election and if they still supported him now.
Brousaides – the president of the Walpole Chamber of Commerce – said he is running on a business platform and money would solve many of the issues currently facing the community. He said he did support the president in the election, and that while he wishes Trump acted statelier, he continued to support him today because he is the president.
He added that he also supported President Barack Obama, as he is loyal to the leader of the country. Hempton – a periodontist and small business owner who focuses on education and illegal drug prevention – said he did support Trump and continues to support him.
“Donald Trump does not represent the Republican party,” he said. “The bottom line is, yes, I voted for Donald Trump. I voted for him because I thought it was time for a change.”
Shortsleeve, a former investigative journalist for WBZ, said he too voted for Trump and that the country has become too divided along the lines of what everyone chose to do in November.
Shortsleeve, a former Democrat running as an Independent, said he would benefit from his ability to look at issues and determine the problem and find a solution, as well as his freedom to not be loyal to a specific party.
Feeney said the issue was greater than voting and that, as an elected official, it is important to let constituents know that they will be protected.
“It’s one thing to vote for Donald Trump,” he said. “We need to make sure we stick together and fight for equality... We need to fight for people, we need to stand up for people, we need to talk to each other.”
Mass. Department of Transportation Legislative Director Michael Berry is also running as a Republican. Berry touts his list of endorsements, including two state senators, 10 state representatives, one sheriff and six local officials.