Heroux’s GOP Colleagues on Beacon Hill Crafting Bill to Bar Mayoral/Representative Double-Dip

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2017/11/16/herouxs-gop-colleagues-on-beacon-hill-crafting-bill-to-bar-mayoralrepresentative-double-dip/

By Matt Murphy

BOSTON — House Republicans plan to file legislation before Thanksgiving that would force Rep. Paul Heroux to choose between his job as a state representative and serving as mayor of Attleboro.

The move by Republicans is reminiscent of the drama that played out eight years ago when former state Rep. William Lantigua indicated that he intended to remain in the House after winning the mayoral election in Lawrence. Lantigua ultimately resigned amid public criticism and pressure from House leadership.

Rep. Brad Jones, the House minority leader, told the News Service that his office was preparing legislation similar to that filed by Lowell Rep. Tom Golden in 2009 to bring pressure to bear on Lantigua that would prohibit anyone from serving simultaneously in the Legislature and in the chief executive position for a municipality.

“The same sentiment,” Jones said Wednesday night after the House wrapped up its final formal session for the year. “He wasn’t even here. He wasn’t here last night. His argument is he can do two jobs, and he’s only got one right now.”

Another member of the Legislature, Sen. Thomas McGee, won the Lynn mayoral race on Nov. 7 and on Monday resigned his Senate seat effective Jan. 2, 2018. The Senate on Thursday scheduled a March 6 special election to fill his seat well before formal legislative sessions end in July 2018.

Heroux was at the State House Tuesday for House debatte on a criminal justice reform bill, but did not vote in the final roll call on the bill’s passage.

He was also present Wednesday as the House debated a $3.5 billion capital infrastructure bill, and even voted at 9:23 p.m. on an omnibus amendment packed with local earmarks, but was not recorded 36 minutes later when the House voted to pass the bill.

Heroux did not return calls seeking comment Thursday on why he missed the votes, but he told the Attleboro Sun Chronicle that he skipped the final vote on the criminal justice bill because the reform package did not include his proposal to force the Department of Correction to use data analytics to measure the success of rehabilitation programs in prisons.

Those programs are weighed by parole officials when deciding whether to release inmates early, and Heroux says there’s little evidence to show whether the efforts work.

The infrastructure borrowing bill that Heroux did not vote on included $20 million for a court facility in Attleboro.

“I think it’s a disservice,” Jones said. “I can’t think he was attending to important mayoral-elect duties at nine-thirty or ten o’clock at night.”

After defeating incumbent Attleboro Mayor Kevin Dumas earlier this month, Heroux said he intended to finish out his term in the House through the end of 2018, in part, because he was worried that a Republican candidate would have a leg up in a special election.

He also said he wanted he wanted to finish some of his legislative “projects” on Beacon Hill, and he didn’t want his city to have to pay the cost of a special election.

Since then, in interviews with local media, Heroux has suggested that he might be reconsidering, and has suggested he may resign after all.

Jones compared Heroux’s various justifications for wanting to keep both jobs to “following the bouncing ball.” The North Reading Republican said he put the most credence in Heroux’s admission that the seat could be won by a Republican.

“I think that was his most honest answer,” Jones said. “But then I think it was probably, ‘Wait a second, let me try another one, let me try another one, let me try another one,’ searching around for which answer is going to sell,” Jones said.

Heroux’s Attleboro district is surrounded by districts held by Republicans.

“I think it’s incredibly insulting, to the voters and to the mayors and to the legislators who take their job as a full-time job seriously, that he would even consider this,” Gov. Charlie Baker said over the weekend.

After winning election in 2009 as mayor of Lawrence, Lantigua initially retained his House seat, but under pressure from fellow Democrats he bowed out of his state House seat in February 2010.

The controversy was fueled, in part, by the Legislature’s consideration of legislation at the time that would have allowed Lawrence to borrow $35 million to pay its debts, and put the city’s finances under the control of a state receiver.

A bill filed by one of Lantigua’s Democratic colleagues would have banned municipal executives, but not members of the city council or school committee or other elected boards, from serving in the Legislature. Democratic leaders backed off the bill after Lantigua agreed to resign.

It’s unclear whether Heroux has met with House leadership since informing House Speaker Robert DeLeo last week that he intended to keep both jobs. DeLeo, at the time, said, “Ultimately it became Representative Lantigua’s decision what to do and I would say it would be the same with Representative Heroux.”