ATTLEBORO — Paul Heroux, a 36-year-old Democrat and political newcomer rolled to an easy win over one-term Republican incumbent George Ross after a bruising race for the city’s 2nd Bristol District seat in the state House of Representatives.
Heroux piled up 58 percent of the vote to overwhelm the one-term, 63-year-old incumbent, who served seven terms on the City Council before his election to the House two years ago.
He beat Ross in all 11 city precincts which make up the district. Even in Ward 2, Ross’ home ward, Heroux’s margin of victory was 58 percent.
Heroux credits his win to his message about the need of state government to enact measures that ensure money spent on programs is not wasted and that the programs work.
“I think that resonated with voters,” he said. “It’s a common-sense thing.”
Heroux said Democrats were attracted to it because it can improve programs and Republicans liked it because it’s fiscally responsible.
He also said his emphasis on improving mental health programs struck a chord with people.
And Heroux said people seemed to want a change.
“I think voters wanted something different this time,” he said.
A disappointed Ross, who touted his 30 years of experience in government as well as his effort to pass a ban on the dangerous drug known as “bath salts,” declined to talk to The Sun Chronicle after the results were in.
The campaign featured sharp barbs from both sides, especially in the last month of the contest.
The two men disagreed on most issues right from the get-go, when Heroux pushed for four debates, but Ross said one was enough.
One was all there was, and Ross and Heroux slammed away at each other.
The two wrangled over a ban on sex offenders from public places, which was imposed by the City Council.
Ross said it was essential to protect children, while Heroux, who has multiple advanced degrees and worked in the state corrections department, argued it was “feel-good legislation” and did nothing to protect children.
During the debate, when Ross attacked Heroux’s failure to vote in a number of elections, claiming he didn’t respect veterans who died for the right to vote, members of the audience booed, prompting Ross to lash out at them.
He used what he described as a “dismissive gesture,” but Heroux charged he made an obscene gesture to the audience.
Later, Ross supporters leaked information that led to revelations that Heroux had joined the Navy out of high school, but left the service after less than a month.
GEORGE W. RHODES can be reached at 508-236-0432 or at email@example.com.