ATTLEBORO - When Paul Heroux worked for the Philadelphia jail system, he said part of his job was to measure which programs worked and which did not.
He said he wants to bring that same approach to Beacon Hill if he is elected state representative on Tuesday.
State programs should not continue to get funded if it is proven that they are ineffective, he said. Unfortunately, he added, most programs are never studied for their effectiveness, so legislators and policy makers have no way of evaluating them.
If elected, he said he would push to have measurements attached to programs to provide hard evidence on which should be funded by the Legislature.
A Democrat, Heroux said demanding efficiency might not sound like a position normally emphasized by his party, but he considers himself a moderate everyone can get behind.
Heroux, 36, who is engaged to be married, is running for office for the first time. He taking on incumbent state Rep. George Ross, R-Attleboro.
Ross has years of experience in city politics and a fundraising advantage over Heroux, so the challenger is trying to make up for his disadvantages by outworking the incumbent.
He has knocked on thousands of doors to meet voters and come out with a number of policy positions.
"He is working really hard. He has a lot of energy and is a fast learner," said supporter Ellen Parker, a Democratic activist.
Heroux's first run at elective office certainly has been eventful.
Originally, he intended to run for Congress, but switched to state representative. Then, he had to acknowledge that as a teenager he left the U.S. Navy Reserve before completing basic training.
More recently, he and Ross have been arguing over whether Ross made an obscene gesture to audience members who booed Ross during a debate.
Heroux has also expressed frustration that Ross would only debate once. Ross said he was too busy for more debates, but Heroux pointed out President Barack Obama had time for three debates.
An Attleboro High School graduate, Heroux has three graduate degrees. He has a masters degree from Harvard in public administration, one in international relations from the London School of Economics, and one in criminology from the University of Pennsylvania.
But, Heroux admits he was not always a model student.
In high school he did poorly. But, after working as a youth counselor at the YMCA, he turned his life around, went to junior college, excelled, and then attended the University of Southern California.
Now, Heroux said he wants to give back to the community.
"I want to make a difference," he said.