Name: Jason Lewis
Address: 61 Church St., Winchester
Occupation: State Representative, 31st Middlesex District (Stoneham and Winchester)
Offices Held: First elected State Representative in 2008; previously served on Winchester Finance Committee.
Why are you running for State Rep.?
I’m running for reelection because I believe we have great opportunities to strengthen our communities and move Massachusetts forward.
If I have the privilege of being reelected, I will continue to focus on four top priorities: local economic development projects that strengthen our communities; education funding reform to ensure adequate and equitable funding for all our schools; containing healthcare costs to make quality care more affordable for our families, seniors and small businesses; and government reforms that continue to make our state government more efficient, accountable, and responsive to our needs and concerns.
Why should voters elect you as State Rep.?
I believe that my leadership has been effective in delivering results for Stoneham and Winchester. We are making good progress on a wide range of important community concerns, including local economic development, school funding and facilities, flood mitigation, neighborhood traffic and safety, and public transportation.
In the state legislature, I have drawn on my skills from a successful business career to bring more efficiency, accountability and transparency to our state government. My efforts have helped pass sweeping reforms -- including pensions, transportation, municipal health insurance, ethics, and probation. These reforms, along with sound fiscal management, have led to the state’s highest credit rating in its history and a stabilization fund balance that now exceeds $1 billion. The state’s unemployment rate has fallen steadily to six percent, well below the national average which remains above eight percent.
What are three issues facing Winchester that, if elected, you would strive to improve?
1) School funding and facilities: Enrollment in the Winchester public schools has increased by 25 percent over the last decade. This has created significant challenges for the town, both in terms of school building capacity and operating budget. We are making excellent progress in addressing capacity needs with the new Vinson-Owen elementary school currently under construction and the high school feasibility study which is also underway. Both of these projects are being funded through a state-local partnership. Increases in state education funding for Winchester (Chapter 70) have been critical in supporting the enrollment growth, and I will continue to make education funding and local aid a top priority.
2) Local economic development: Winchester has a great opportunity to promote local economic development through improvements in public transportation and efforts to revitalize the Town Center. Accessibility improvements at the Wedgemere commuter rail station should be completed this year, and a major project to overhaul the Winchester center commuter rail station is underway. Both of these projects are being funded entirely by state and federal dollars. I will continue to support efforts by the Board of Selectmen, Planning Board, and others to bring new housing and commercial opportunities to Winchester’s downtown.
3) Flood mitigation: Winchester has faced five major flooding episodes since 1996 that have been devastating to homeowners and local businesses. We are making excellent progress in pursuing flood mitigation projects, including the new Mystic Lakes dam and the Aberjona river widening, and I will continue to support all efforts at the state and local level to move the Town’s flood mitigation program forward as quickly as possible.
What are three issues facing Stoneham that, if elected, you would strive to improve?
1) School funding and facilities: Stoneham has excellent public schools with dedicated teachers and engaged parents. The new middle school currently being built through a state-local partnership will be a great asset to the community. Although we have made progress in increasing state education funding for Stoneham (Chapter 70), I will continue to make this a top priority in order to ensure that Stoneham receives adequate and equitable school funding. I’m the lead sponsor in the House of Representatives for legislation that would reform and update the Chapter 70 formula.
2) Local economic development: A significant portion of Stoneham’s land is set aside as protected open space. While this provides recreational opportunities for Stoneham residents, it also limits the taxable property available to fund essential municipal services. I will continue to support efforts to pursue local economic development opportunities that fit within the character of the neighborhood where they are located, generate new property tax revenues, and provide additional housing and commercial space. I will also continue to champion Stone Zoo which is a major asset to Stoneham and surrounding communities.
3) Public transportation: We were successful earlier this year in preventing cuts to the MBTA service in Stoneham due to the fiscal crisis facing the MBTA. However, I will continue to advocate for improvements in the local bus service that is very important to both commuters and local businesses. I will also push for a comprehensive solution to our regional transportation needs, including roads, bridges, and public transit. I will also continue to champion the Tri-Community Greenway and Bikeway which will create new economic development and recreational opportunities for Stoneham residents and businesses.