Senate candidates make local stops

Two Democratic candidates vying to replace Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown spoke to the Gazette last month about strategies for boosting the economy, bringing jobs to the state and repairing crumbling public infrastructure.

Newton Mayor Setti Warren was interviewed by the Gazette at the Mission Bar & Grill in Mission Hill Aug. 31, prior to a closed-door meeting at the nearby Tobin Community Center with leaders from the state’s African community. Tom Conroy, a state rep. from Wayland, stopped at J.P. Licks in Jamaica Plain Aug. 30 as part of a 650-mile walk around the state. The walk ended at Boston Common last weekend.

“Being a mayor in this economic environment, I know protecting vital services and job creation are important to this community we are in now and communities like it across the state,” Warren said.

“Jobs and the economy are my number one focus. And I have felt with my feet the crumbling infrastructure of this state,” Conroy said..

Warren served in the Clinton White House and as the New England director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the 1990s and early 2000s. He joined U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s staff during Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid and later became the senator’s “point person for growing small businesses” prior to being elected mayor of Newton in 2009, said that in the Senate he would continue his focus on small businesses.

If elected, Warren said, would push to expand small businesses’ opportunities to compete for federal contracts and to make sure access to “capital and small business loans” is made available, he said.

“I believe we as a nation are at a crossroads,” Warren said. “Over 13 million people are out of work and we have a failing infrastructure. We need to get people educated and trained for the jobs of the future.”

Conroy’s biography includes work on national budget issues in Washington, D.C. in the 1980s, and stints working for U.S. Sens. Gary Hart and Barbara Mikulski. He spent time in Asia and Haiti in the late 1980s and early 1990s managing refugee resettlement programs.

Since 1995, he has he worked as a financial consultant in Boston. He was elected state rep. for Lincoln, Sudbury and Wayland in 2006.

Conroy said he would support a second stimulus bill to help jumpstart the economy and make much-needed infrastructure repairs.

“I believe we can find the money in the Defense Department—by bringing people back from Iraq and Afghanistan—to make it revenue-neutral,” he said.

Conroy highlighted an amendment he pushed to state life sciences legislation passed in 2008 as an example of the type of thinking he would bring to the Senate. The amendment allows the state to take a 3 percent equity share in the businesses it awards grants to through the bill. “Maybe one of those businesses will develop a cure for cancer. If they make $10 billion in 20 years, we can sell that stock and have $300 million,” he said.

He said that, if elected, he would push to streamline federal regulations for small businesses to spur job growth.

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