ATTLEBORO - Paul Heroux, a candidate for state representative, said Monday that if he is elected he will donate his state travel stipend to commuters.
Heroux, an Attleboro Democratic, said his plan is to create a monthly lottery to give the winning commuter a monthly rail pass. The passes will be paid for with the stipend the state awards to each legislator for every day they travel to the Statehouse for work.
The amount of the stipend is based on the mileage from a legislator's home to Boston.
Heroux said he is opposed to the idea of the travel stipend, or per diem, but if he refused it, the state would get the money, rather than local residents. Instead, he will give it away to defray the cost of travel for constituents.
"I never liked the idea of a travel stipend for public officials, especially where commuters have been hit hard with recent MBTA fare increases not their fault," he said.
"I proposed this idea to voters at the door during this past summer during my primary, and citizens were very receptive to it, even if they don't take the MBTA commuter rail. Representatives should not be afforded special perks that taxpayers don't get."
Heroux is running against freshman incumbent Rep. George Ross, R-Attleboro, in a district that includes all of Attleboro except for Precinct 3B. Although Ross was paid $2,520 in stipends, he said he donated all of the money to charity.
He said he has been supporting local causes and charities since moving to Attleboro more than 30 years ago, but never sought publicity for it.
"It's interesting Mr. Heroux intends to make a small donation to the community, but he's quite late to the party. Since 1978, I've given thousands of dollars to the city for every charity possible," Ross said.
Ross said his donations have gone to organizations such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, 4H Club, youth sports, Christmas Is For Kids, the YMCA and veterans groups.
"I never issued a press release to brag about it," he said.