By MICHAEL C. BAILEY
When C. Samuel Sutter launched his campaign for US Representative William R. Keating (D), he came out swinging and has yet to let up on his opponent in the upcoming September 6 primary election.
“He’s kind of inherent in my decision” to run, the Bristol County district attorney said of Rep. Keating, who he regarded as representative of the many issues plaguing Congress.
“Look at polls that say that over 90 percent of all Americans are unhappy with Congress,” Mr. Sutter said. “Americans are unhappy with Congress because Congress isn’t getting enough done on behalf of them…we are electing our representatives to transcend [partisanship], to get things done, and that’s not happening.”
In addition to his personal frustration with Congress, Mr. Sutter said he was “frustrated by [Rep. Keating’s refusal to debate on Cape Cod…I asked for three debates on Cape Cod and debates all over the region -- nine, I called for -- and I was flat-out turned down on the Cape and the Islands.”
That refusal was “strategic as opposed to civic,” Mr. Sutter said, driven by the fact that the Cape Cod region is the largest chunk of familiar territory within what is now the Ninth Congressional District; redistricting following the 2010 federal Census eliminated the 10th District and placed the Cape and Islands within the new Ninth along with several communities formerly in the Fourth District.
“I think it’s undeniable that this is a brand new district. It might not be a brand new district for the people of the Cape, but it’s certainly a brand new district for the people from Wareham from Fall River,” Mr. Sutter said, adding that be believed his opponent vulnerable locally “since he’s really only been representing the Cape and Islands since January of 2011.”
Mr. Sutter added that Rep. Keating’s political career began long before his election to Congress; Rep. Keating served in the Massachusetts Legislature from 1977 to 1998 and in 1999 became the Norfolk County district attorney.
“That’s a career politician,” Mr. Sutter said, offering himself as an alternative to the career politicians he said have taken over Washington D.C.
Despite his relatively short political career, Mr. Sutter referred to his time in the DA’s office as evidence of his ability to serve effectively in the higher elected office of Congress. He referred to strategies he implemented since taking office in 2006 to greatly reduce gun violence, the homicide rate, gang activity, and high-level drug activity in Bristol County – particularly within the communities of Fall River, New Bedford, and Taunton.
Those successes, he said, were the result of solid initial planning, working cooperatively with various law enforcement agencies, and fully utilizing the available tools within the law enforcement and justice systems to leverage the desired results.
And those results were: 13 shootings in 2007, down from 38 in 2006; and a 100 percent homicide solve rate (cases resulting in charges) in 2007, up from 57 percent in 2006, with an 80 percent annual average solve rate over the past six years.
Mr. Sutter identified several key issues for Cape Cod, starting with safety concerns tied to Pilgrim Nuclear in Plymouth. “People throughout the Cape are very concerned about the safety, about the pollution, and about the evacuation plan,” he said, noting that very early in his campaign he began to speak out against re-licensing the power plant until several safety concerns had been adequately addressed.
“I did not call for a shutdown, but I did call for no re-licensing until the safety standard recommended by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s task force in the wake of Fukushima (Daiichi, the Japanese nuclear plant damaged in a devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami) had been adopted,” he said.
The candidate also wanted to focus on wastewater management, and Mr. Sutter said he has spoken to several key players in the region including Paul J. Niedzwiecki, executive director of the Cape Cod Commission, and Andrew Gottlieb, executive director of the Cape Cod Water Protection Collaborative, about the Cape’s challenges and needs.
On that topic Mr. Sutter said he wanted to emulate former Congressman William D. Delahunt, who was a powerful advocate for the Cape in its fight to clean up groundwater pollution originating from the Massachusetts Military Reservation.
“There was a huge problem, I know Congressman Delahunt got to work very quickly on it, and successfully and effectively on it, and the problem was greatly improved,” Mr. Sutter said. “That’s leadership and that’s what I believe, based upon my record as the district attorney in Bristol County, and my commitment to the people of Cape Cod, where I lived during the 1980s and had a law practice, that I will lead on this issue.”
“I think it’s getting better but not getting better fast enough,” Mr. Sutter said when asked about the general state of the economy, “and that’s the biggest immediate concern.”
His plan for boosting the economy is based in infrastructure development, and he said he agreed with a plan floated by US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren calling for a $100 billion infrastructure investment initiative -- “not a stimulus plan,” he stressed, but an investment in developing roads, bridges, and sewer systems.
To offset such an investment, Mr. Sutter said he would identify “spending at the federal level that can no longer be justified in view of our national debt and our infrastructure,” namely military spending. He said he would cut military spending five percent across the board.
This could be achieved easily by almost completely withdrawing troops from the Middle East, Mr. Sutter said. He supported sustaining a “limited” military presence in the region to aid local governments in maintaining stability.
Mr. Sutter said he would also end subsidies for oil companies and agricultural conglomerates to boost revenue to fund infrastructure projects, and would vote to end the Bush tax cuts for individuals making more than $250,000 a year, but retain the cuts for those making less than $250,000.
The candidate said he’s had “no time to study every part of the [federal] budget,” but expected there are numerous “inefficiencies” that could be eliminated to reduce spending further.
He would also prioritize small businesses over large corporations, which “have let us down with the way they send jobs overseas. Mr. Sutter said the New Bedford/Fall River region has lost approximately 40,000 manufacturing jobs over the last 25 years.
A report prepared by the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth’s Center for Policy Analysis entitled “Economic History of the Massachusetts South Coast” stated that the two cities, the communities most heavily dependent on manufacturing, saw the total employment in that industry drop from 43 percent (average for the two cities) in 1985 to 17.9 percent in 2008.
Mr. Sutter had no specific ideas on stimulating small businesses beyond promoting public-private partnerships. “The exact specifics, I’m not ready at this time to discuss that with specificity because I haven’t studied the issue enough,” he said.
However, he did identify the green energy industry as a potential growth industry for the South Coast region. “The Cape Wind project is about to commence. We’re hopeful in New Bedford and Fall River that that’s going to mean hundreds and maybe ultimately thousand of jobs for our beleaguered economy in that area,” he said, and he envisioned those seaside ports as possible construction and staging areas for the Nantucket Sound-based project.
Regardless of the nature or size of the business, Mr. Sutter said employers and their workers would be affected by the federal Affordable Care Act, which he called “a good and needed start” to reforming the nation’s health care system, but “do we need to do more? Yes.”
He specifically identified as his top priorities lowering administrative costs and fees for services, and encouraging preventive care.
To learn more about the candidate, visit Mr. Sutter’s official campaign website at http://samsutter.com.
Other Issues At A Glance
Supports same-sex marriage.
Second Amendment Rights
Said gun ownership is “not a social issue. Guns are a public safety issue,” and would work to reinstate the federal “assault weapons ban” and close loopholes that allow for easier purchasing of firearms at gun shows.
The views and opinions in the Enterprise blogs are those of the author and are not neccessarily shared by Falmouth Publishing.