Shrewsbury – Since he was sworn in as a state representative Jan. 5, Matthew Beaton has been a busy man. The Shrewsbury resident, a Republican who represents the 11th Worcester District (Shrewsbury, as well as two Westborough precincts), still oversees his business, Beaton Construction, while immersing himself in all things Beacon Hill. And he and his wife, Laura, have also been putting the final touches on their new home, while they await the birth of their first child later this spring.
For Beaton, who had been a Shrewsbury Town Meeting member but had never run for any other office other than representative, his new job ties together many facets of his life.
“I really love the state process of [the Legislature],” he said, “and I'se always been fascinated by history, especially the Colonial era. And as a business owner, I have had many decisions on the state level affect my company so that has always interested me.”
The opportunity to be in a position to help others is also a big draw, he said. That mission of giving back was instilled in him at an early age by his mother, Julianne DeFeudis, and by his experience attending St. John's High School in Shrewsbury.
“I really didn's know what to expect [regarding going to Beacon Hill],” he said, “but everyone in both parties has been friendly, engaging and helpful. George Peterson [a fellow Republican who also represents parts of Westborough] in particular has been a great support.”
Each week, Beaton spends time working in legislative committees, meeting with advocacy groups and constituents, and attending as many community events as he can.
One of the committees he currently serves on, the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, is a great fit for him, he said, as green building technology and energy efficiency are two of his passions.
“Energy efficiency and improvements will help lower operational costs, especially in our public buildings,” he said. “But there's too much shortsightedness, too much what feels politically good at the time. If we all met more in the middle on issues like this, there would be tremendous progress.
” By making buildings more energy efficient, money could be saved that could then be used for other purposes. Improving energy efficiency would also help lower the demand of those services.”
As a small business owner, Beaton is very aware of the pressure mandated by government regulations, such as those currently in review by the Environmental Protection Agency. They can have an enormous impact on the economic health of a business.
“There has to be common sense,” he said. “Some of these [mandates] will end up strangling not only small businesses, but towns as well.”
Another committee he serves on is the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse.
“I am happy to be on it,” he said. “It's tough to look someone [who is suffering] in the eye and deny them something. It's incredibly difficult. But it's critical that we look at our essential services and be able to help those who truly need it. We also need to realize that there are opportunists out there, as well as redundant services.”
As for future plans as a politician, he said, “I'se never been one to look too far into the future. I would never rule anything out though.”
For now, being a state representative and a father-to-be, he said, suits him just fine.