By: D.J. Deeb – December, 2010
Dracut residents chose their candidates and issues wisely in the November 2nd statewide election. Although the state of Massachusetts voted for higher taxes and bigger government, Dracut voters made the right decisions.
First off, Dracut School Committee Chairman Matt Sheehan lost his bid as an Independent candidate for State Representative. Sheehan not only lost, he got crushed. The reason for this crushing defeat was a combination of his own negative campaigning and incumbent State Representative Colleen Garry’s exceptional record of service to the 36th Middlesex District, which includes Dracut and Tyngsboro. Garry won re-election gathering 8,192 votes (53%). Republican George Boag, a first-time candidate for public office, collected 5,463 votes (32%). George Boag’s showing is impressive for a first-time candidate and can be largely attributed to his positive issue-oriented campaign. Matt Sheehan gathered a mere 1,575 votes (Just 10% of the vote).
In the interest of disclosure, I ran against Rep. Garry as a Republican challenger in 2002. At that time I had many differences with Rep. Garry over her voting record. Since that time, however, I believe that Rep. Garry has done an exceptional job representing her constituents at the State House. She has voted against raising the Sales tax, Alcohol tax, Meals tax, Telecommunications tax and Gas tax.
Most experienced observers would agree that Rep. Garry would have easily won re-election this year even in a 2-way race, but the dismal showing by Matt Sheehan surprised many.
Colleen Garry has been an independent voice representing Dracut and Tyngsboro well on Beacon Hill. In addition to opposing taxes, Colleen has led the charge in supporting Ethics Reform, Pension Reform, Transportation Reform, and for cutting State government spending. Rep. Garry has also voted repeatedly to prevent illegal aliens from receiving State benefits.
While Republican George Boag mounted a largely positive and issues-oriented campaign, Matt Sheehan embarked on a campaign of lies, slander and deception. Sheehan attacked Rep. Garry for increasing taxes and causing jobs to be lost. Colleen Garry’s voting record obviously shows different as discussed earlier.
During the campaign, Sheehan stated, “I firmly believe that elected officials should not be collecting pensions.” The problem here is that Sheehan and all other Town officials, who receive a stipend, contribute to the Middlesex County Retirement System. Sheehan offered no specifics. Is he saying that those who contribute are not entitled to at least receive their money back to invest as they choose in their own individual retirement accounts? Why has Mr. Sheehan not made this an issue in the two years that he has been on the School Committee? In addition, why didn’t Matt Sheehan follow Selectman John Zimini’s lead earlier this year when Zimini refused to accept a stipend in order to save the Town money? Matt Sheehan has been accepting his stipend checks each month. This was nothing more than electioneering on Mr. Sheehan’s part and the voters saw through it.
On another note, Dracut voters wisely chose Charlie Baker for Governor, Jamison Tomasek for State Senate, and Jon Golnik for Congress. In addition, Dracut residents voted YES on all three ballot questions. Even though the rest of the state bucked the national trend and voted to retain the state’s Democratic delegation in Congress, Dracut voters made the right choices.
D.J. Deeb is a of the Town of Dracut Committee on Government Rules and Regulations, served on the Dracut School Committee from 2005-2008 and the Gr. Lowell Regional Voc-Tech School Committee from 1997-2009. Deeb is an Adjunct Professor of History/Government at Bunker Hill Community College and an Adjunct Political Science Instructor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He teaches Social Studies full-time at Reading Memorial High School.