AUBURN, Mass. – The Daily Voice asked five questions of each of the candidates running for state office this fall. The following responses are from Auburn Selectman Steve Simonian, a Republican running for the 2nd Worcester District state Senate seat, which includes Auburn, Grafton, Leicester, Millbury, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Upton and Worcester.
Simonian is running against Democratic incumbent Michael Moore, who has served the district since 2008.
The Daily Voice: How would you support local business?
Simonian: We need to look at ways to make it easier for small businesses to pay for that one big lump sum for licenses, permits, payroll taxes, benefits; the small business owners I’ve talked to couldn’t even list them all for me. Instead of making small business owners come up with one big lump sum, we should try to split up the payments. If it was paid quarterly, they told me, it would be huge for them. Car insurance is paid every month. Let’s try to do something like that for businesses.
The Daily Voice: How should the state go about creating more jobs?
Simonian: If we work with small businesses to help alleviate these costs (from the first question), it would help them grow and expand. For a majority of business owners, they say they could use three or four new people, but they can’t afford them on their payroll. If we work with these small businesses, alleviating the costs, we can put people back to work. We’ve been named one of the least-friendly states to do business, an over-regulated state and the cost of energy is too high. Large corporations see this and don’t want to come here. A lot of them see it as not cost-effective, and we need to change that to get more businesses and jobs here.
The Daily Voice: With the spread out district, how do you make sure every town gets represented?
Simonian: There’s plenty of time to find one day out of every month to spend time holding office hours. I would invite people to voice their concerns and bring issues right to me personally. Instead of sitting up on Beacon Hill and guessing their concerns, I’d talk to people face to face and try to resolve the issues as fast as possible. I’ve been holding office hours as a selectman in Auburn. I have office hours and get the issues directly to the town manager, and we’ve resolved the issues as fast as possible. It wouldn’t be too tough immersing myself in the district.
The Daily Voice: What would be the first issue that you would tackle if elected?
Simonian: I would hold a round-table discussion with business owners, getting the top five issues straight from them and getting what will make it easier for them to do business. I would then put together a list to start prioritizing the things that would make it easier for businesses and put people back to work. They deal with the issues on a daily basis, so I’d love to sit them all down. Maybe even two or three or four times, I’d be happy to do additional round tables. They might have some different ideas, but there is going to be commonality among them.
The Daily Voice: What do you bring to the table that your opponent doesn’t?
Simonian: I’ve spent the majority of my life in the private sector and understand the average individual, while my opponent has been a public sector employee who is out of touch with the average person. I’m not knocking his service, but he just doesn’t understand some things of the average person. He’s always had health care available; he’s never had to fight legislation to get health care for his family. And when a 6.3 percent unemployment rate is acceptable to him, because it’s under the national average, that’s out of touch. It’s not OK with people I’ve talked to who are out of work. It’s not acceptable, and we need to get people working again.