David DeCoste Touts Bipartisanship, Work With Constituents In State Rep Re-Election Bid On South Shore

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State Representative David DeCoste sees a few ways in which he sets himself apart from many of his peers in the Massachusetts State House.

The 57-year-old Republican from Norwell, who is seeking re-election in the Fifth Plymouth District (Hanover, Rockland, Norwell) in a race against former Hanover selectman and Democrat Emmanuel Dockter, says there is plenty of work left for him to do in the state legislature–and that this job is his full-time focus.

“The bottom line here is we’re working hard on the issues,” he told New Boston Post in a recent telephone interview. “We’re getting our share of local aid so our schools can operate. I’ve always been a strong supporter of the police.”

DeCoste said one place that sets him apart from many is his legislative style. Although he is a Republican, he said he makes it a point to work with his Democratic peers on legislation.

“Every single major piece of legislation I file almost always has a Democratic co-sponsor,” he said, citing representatives like Colleen Garry (D-Dracut), Jim Hawkins (D-Attleboro), and Dave Robertson (D-Tewksbury) as a few examples of people he has worked with.

With Garry, DeCoste has worked on a few bills, including one about revoking the parental rights of rapists. It would lower the standard for taking away parental rights from criminal conviction to clear and convincing evidence that shows the child was conceived in rape. The latter is the standard in 18 states. With Hawkins, one bill DeCoste proposed allows towns to freeze the property tax rate for people once they turn 65, exempting them from future increases. And one with Robertson would raise the property tax exemption minimum for disabled veterans from $400 to $1,000.

DeCoste reiterated his support for lower taxes, including property tax relief. He cited the Senior Circuit Breaker as an example; it’s a provision that offers a property tax credit to low-income and middle-class seniors with a property tax that exceeds 10 percent of their income. DeCoste’s office has held events explaining to seniors how to capitalize on the credit — which can be worth up to $1,150.

“Here in Norwell, Rockland, Hanover, if you’re retired on $50,000 a year, 10 percent of your income is $5,000, and many of them would be paying more than $5,000,” he said.

DeCoste is pro-life. He has the endorsement of the Massachusetts Citizens for Life State Political Action Committee.

DeCoste noted that he is pro-police officer and has been for a while. He supports tougher penalties for assaulting a police officer — making it a felony instead of a misdemeanor — and capital punishment for those who kill police officers. Capital punishment has been outlawed in Massachusetts since 1984. It had previously been legal since colonial times, though the last time the state carried out an execution was 1947.

DeCoste stated that he opposes illegal immigration. He doesn’t support sanctuary cities or driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. He also said he likes the idea of mandatory E-Verify in Massachusetts and, at minimum, mandatory E-Verify for those who do business with the state government.

“They’re not paying into a number of things including the disability fund,” DeCoste said. “If one of their people falls off a roof working, they’re not contributing anything. I would also be in favor of increased enforcement and tougher penalties against those hiring illegal immigrants.”

“Sanctuary cities, licensing illegals, the ROE Act, try getting an answer out of them on anything,” he added, referring to Democratic politicians in the state. “Sanctuary cities are a sore spot for them.”

Another place DeCoste said he differs from other politicians is that he is more accessible to his constituents.

DeCoste has office hours in all three towns in his district on the first four Fridays of every month. Sometimes constituents give him ideas for policy. He said he listens to them and creates bills at their request.

“It’s extremely important,” he said of that access. “It’s a way to talk to local municipal officials who want to speak. People know they can call me on the phone and speak.”

Plus, DeCoste noted that he is the only member of the legislature who not only refuses to partake in the state pension system but donates his 2017 pay raise to charities in the area. DeCoste vocally opposed the nearly $18 million in pay raises the Massachusetts Legislature voted itself, the governor, and judges back in 2017.

“I just got excoriated by an older supporter the other day saying, ‘How come you never talk about that?’” he said. “He said, ‘it could help your support if you did.'”

DeCoste served as a U.S. Army army officer. DeCoste retired from the Army in 2009 after serving for 22 years of active-duty, reaching the rank of major. A paratrooper, he served in the Gulf War and as an officer in the 82nd Airborne Division.

DeCoste noted that he is the only career active-duty veteran in the state legislature and one of just two paratroopers. The other former paratrooper is state Representative Linda Dean Campbell (D-Methuen)

He said that it’s crucial to have people in the legislature who understand veterans’ issues.

“That’s important because I’m able to bring that perspective,” he said. “I’m a pretty pro-union Republican. Tim Whelan and I see eye-to-eye on that. But I’m working to protect veterans, supporting veterans’ preference, and possibly paying for veterans’ education at a public school. To be honest with you, it’s not that expensive because most come back with veterans’ benefits. We have the policy with the Air and National Guard. When you add that in, it’s not that expensive over and above what we’re already doing.”

State Representative Harold Naughton Jr. (D-Clinton) and DeCoste proposed a bill to administer free online public higher education to veterans in the state.

Every state representative election DeCoste has run in has been competitive. When first elected in 2014, he beat his opponent by 49 votes (50.1 percent to 49.8 percent). That tight victory came after he won the Republican primary by 26 votes. In 2016, he won his race 51 percent to 48.9 percent. And in 2018, he won 51.7 percent to 48.2 percent.

Emmanuel Dockter, DeCoste’s Democratic challenger in the race, did not respond to New Boston Post’s request for comment.