By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Westborough – What kind of things keeps you up at night? That was the question posed by moderator Paul Matthews to the region’s local legislators who comprised the panel at a recent breakfast meeting hosted by the Corridor 9/495 Regional Chamber of Commerce breakfast Jan. 30 at the Doubletree Hotel. The annual event, sponsored by Commerce Bank, was attended by nearly 200 members of the local business community.
The answers to Matthews’ opening question were ones that keep many others up a night as well, he noted after hearing the responses.
State Rep. Carolyn Dykema (D-Holliston), said climate change, especially as it relates to Massachusetts being a coastal state, was an issue that concerns her.
Her colleague, State Rep. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) noted that she is kept awake by “the situation where public discourse is on a national level.”
“I worry about things are explained with just using 140 characters,” she added.
Like many on the panel, State Rep. David Muradian (R-Grafton) praised the collaborative work of the Democrats and Republicans on Beacon Hill.
“Constituent issues keep me awake,” he said. “It’s never a [D or R] next to a name; it’s what’s best for constituents.
Matthews, the director of the Worcester Regional Research Bureau, also asked the panel a series of questions that had been submitted ahead of time by chamber members. As always, transportation and specifically traffic, continued to be a concern among business leaders, he noted.
Dykema agreed, adding it was a concern brought to her attention nearly every day by a constituent. “Sometimes people leave Massachusetts because of it,” she said. “Here in central Mass., we compete with resources with greater Boston.”
“We need to look at ways to get people out of cars and into better public transportation,” she added.
State Sen. Michael Moore (D-Millbury) agreed with Dykema that there needs to be “regional equity.” He added that while current expansion programs to the state’s commuter rail system were needed, such as the new South Coast rail, there was also a pressing need to fix the many problems with the current system, which included equipment failures and lack of adequate parking.
During a question and answer period, several audience members shared stories of frustration with the bureaucracy on Beacon Hill as they tried to get help from legislators.
Kane noted that she shared their frustration, adding that too often things were not looked at “holistically but rather in silos.”
Moore added that over 6,000 bills are introduced each year, with proponents on both sides of an issue advocating for their position.
“It needs to go to both houses and then back,” he said. “What may seem straight forward and common sense to one side may not be to the other.”