When the current state legislative session began two years ago, the Attleboro area sent three first-time legislators to Beacon Hill.

It's quite clear who the rookie of the year is.

Republican Rep. Dan Winslow of Norfolk, who is unopposed for re-election, has promoted, in no particular order:

A bill that would stem the bargaining power of public employee unions.

Having public utilities pay customers a rebate if they fail to restore power in a reasonable time after an outage.

Changes in the House rules that would allow for more open and boisterous public debate.

Strengthening ethics rules for his fellow lawmakers.

Legalizing Internet poker, and allowing companies that run the games to base themselves in Massachusetts.

Opposition to the failed casino proposal in nearby Foxboro.

Support for Norfolk's efforts to renovate downtown and secure more funding for playing host to state prisons.

He's been so active that some people - including his foes among the public sector unions - have speculated that he has his sights on higher office one day.

Such supposition has not slowed Winslow down a whit. In fact, he filed 21 bills for the most recent legislative session. Not every measure has met with success, but at least the effort is there. A lot of effort.

That hasn't been the case with the two other freshmen, Republican Reps. George Ross of Attleboro and Steven Howitt of Seekonk. Both have had lackluster first terms and now face energetic opponents with fresh ideas. As a result, The Sun Chronicle endorses Democrats Paul Heroux of Attleboro and Keith Carreiro of Swansea, respectively, to succeed them.

After a quiet 14 years on the Attleboro City Council, Ross filed a bill banning "bath salts," a dangerous drug. The measure was eventually approved, but Ross' role in the legislation was tarnished when he couldn't even find out the bill's status in the final days of the legislative session.

Howitt's first bill would have expanded tax breaks for homeowners who replace their septic systems - and help the excavation business. He owns an excavation company. His years on the Seekonk Board of Selectmen were marked with frequent squabbling, some of which ended in court.

Both Ross and Howitt claim to be guardians of the taxpayers but both took thousands of dollars in "per diems," a perk in which state legislators get paid for traveling into work.

Heroux has properly questioned Ross' effectiveness in helping MBTA commuters and in getting Gateway City status for Attleboro. He has earned master's degrees at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Southern California and the Kennedy School of Government. His expertise in measuring whether programs are working or not will prove valuable at the Statehouse, as will his experience in corrections.

Carreiro is a solid candidate, serving as a Swansea School Committee member and adjunct professor at two colleges after a long career as a Swansea school teacher.

We endorse their candidacies and hope they bring the same energy to Beacon Hill that Winslow has.

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(1) comment

dandanwinslowcom

While I appreciate the Sun Chronicle's kind words of support for my legislative record, I respectfully disagree with the endorsement of two Democrats who are challenging Ross and Howitt in the House. Representatives Ross and Howitt stood with me on nearly every reform effort and innovation I proposed in the House last session. By contrast, the Democratic monopoly worked to oppose almost every new idea that would have created jobs and opportunity in Massachusetts. Since the Democrats nearly always vote as a bloc, we can expect these Democratic challengers to fall into line as well. I need Ross and Howitt back in the House to have any hope of reforming Massachusetts state government and getting our Commonwealth working again. I enthusiastically endorse both George Ross and Steve Howitt for reelection and urge the voters to send them back to Beacon Hill so we can finish what we started in 2010.

Respectfully,

Dan Winslow
www.danwinslow.com

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