By Melissa Ellin
Boston University Statehouse Program
Incumbent state Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, will face Republican challenger Anthony Christakis to represent the revised Middlesex and Worcester District in the Nov. 8 general election.
Both candidates were unopposed in their respective primaries.
While the district currently covers 12 communities in MetroWest, redistricting following the 2020 Census will remove Westborough and part of Ayer from coverage. The new district, which is shifted eastward, caters to about 178,000 residents.
Eldridge was first elected in 2009, and since 2012 has won more than 60% of the vote in general elections. In 2020, he ran unopposed.
Here’s more about this year’s candidates.
Employment: Supervising project manager at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation
Endorsements: National Federation of Independent Business
Why are you running?: Christakis hopes to move the Legislature away from “single-party rule” and provide a new voice for people.
“There is no dissenting opinion,” he said. “Everybody thinks the same way and that’s just not healthy.”
Practically raised at his family diner in Brookline, Christakis said he learned the value of listening from conversations with customers.
“I met so many interesting people in my life through that diner,” he said, “and learned so much about listening to people with different perspectives and valuing people’s opinions.”
Christakis said his background spurred him to contact legislators during the pandemic to ask why they were promoting tax policies that are harmful to small business. The responses he got, he said, are what led him to run for office.
“I basically got the Heisman stiff arm,” Christakis said. “That really lit a fire under my tuchus.”
He began asking friends what it took to run for office and found out he qualified. When friends asked, “Why don’t you do it?” Christakis said, “Challenge accepted.”
Christakis highlights his diverse experiences from his time at the diner, working on projects statewide with MassDOT and his agricultural background through his family farm in Greece.
What issues face your district and how will you tackle them?: Christakis said he is not just concerned about small businesses, but also several other economic issues. He said inflation is at the top of his list.
“I recall the days when we had very high taxes — some of the highest in the country — and there was an exodus of people leaving the state,” he said.
Christakis said the state is in jeopardy of again losing residents and reviving “Taxachusetts.” He said he would not support any increase in taxes and thinks it’s “ludicrous” the state is pushing for more.
Christakis said revitalizing the economy should include bringing those who were laid off during the pandemic for not being vaccinated back into the workforce.
“It’s just unfathomable to me that we have qualified people out there that are not being able to work,” Christakis said.
Outside of the economy, Christakis said he’s passionate about decreasing crime and ensuring the state provides top-tier education.
As the son of two Greek immigrants, Christakis said immigration is also important.
He disagrees with a new law that would allow all Massachusetts residents, regardless of immigration status, to legally obtain a driver’s license because he believes it attempts to bypass avenues for obtaining legal citizenship. The Registry of Motor Vehicles, he added, might have a tough time putting the methods into practice, and some immigrants might abuse the privilege.
“I think the policy to issue drivers’ licenses to illegals makes the problem worse by providing them with identification that they could then use to go to another state and potentially use that identification as proof of citizenship,” Christakis said.
Employment: State senator, non-practicing lawyer
Endorsements: Massachusetts AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood and state Rep. Danillo Sena, D-Acton.
Why are you running?: After serving for more than a decade, Eldridge said he’s running for reelection because he wants to continue working on unfinished business from this session.
“As proud as I am of what the Legislature accomplished this session, I think we still have a lot more to do,” he said.
Eldridge said core issues that still require discussion are transportation, public higher education and health care. He also mentioned that he hopes to continue work on criminal justice reform if provided the chance.
“We’re really talking about reducing costs for people, expanding access to jobs and just better quality of life,” Eldridge said.
At the end of the day, he said he’s also passionate about the work he does.
“I love the job,” Eldridge said. “It’s a diverse district in terms of people’s backgrounds and ethnicities and races in terms of rural, suburban, urban, and I really enjoy just getting out there and helping constituents.”
What issues face your district and how will you tackle them?: Highlighting his core three issues, Eldridge said the health care system needs “substantial reform” and that constituents often complain about it.
“Getting a surprise bill, getting notified that you’re out of network or suddenly this insurance coverage doesn’t cover this prescription drug,” Eldridge said are examples of what he hears about.
Eldridge supports single payer health care as a solution.
“Every session, we sort of nibble at the edges around improving health care,” he said. “We need to reach out to more groups and, of course, more legislators to get support.”
On transportation, Eldridge said the state needs to consider further funding. With so many people working remotely since the pandemic, Eldridge said the question to ask is “how does that change the demand or needs for public transit?”
Eldridge supports Question 1 on the ballot to establish an additional income surtax on those who earn more than $1 million annually, to fund education and transportation.
“Can we direct those dollars to our regional transit authorities that have become very innovative in improving transportation for area residents?” Eldridge asked.
Money could also go toward bike paths, Eldridge said, which became more popular during the pandemic and could reduce car traffic.
Increased investments should be made in public higher education, he said, including community colleges and trade schools.
“We haven’t made substantial investments in public higher ed for some time,” Eldridge said. “I think that’s really, really critical to do.”
Given the district’s diversity, Eldridge said immigration is key. He added that to combat rising xenophobia in the state, there needs to be stronger protections for immigrants in areas like law enforcement, government surveillance and treatment in the workplace.
“I continue to be proud to be a very strong voice for immigrant rights,” he said.
This story originally appeared in MetroWest Daily News.