Republican Jim Dixon says that next Tuesday is the day for voters in parts of Newton, Waltham, and Watertown to help end one-party rule in Massachusetts.
But his challenger for state representative for the 10th Middlesex House district, Democrat John Lawn, said voters should instead cast their ballots for him, citing his experience as a small businessman and a longtime Watertown town councilor.
“I've worked hard to get this job. It has been a Democratic seat and I'm fighting to keep it a Democratic seat,” he said.
Dixon, a commercial airline pilot and Navy veteran, is running on the slogan,“cut the fat, bring jobs back.”
“I'm here to represent the taxpayers of Waltham, Newton, and Watertown. I'm here to represent their interests. I'm not part of the 'good old boy network',” said Dixon. “We need to bring diversity onto Beacon Hill.”
Dixon, a political newcomer, has been getting help from Republicans and Tea Partiers. He said the Greater Waltham Tea Party is backing him and numerous Republican town and city committees from Pepperell to Newton hosted a fundraiser for him last weekend.
The Oklahoma native moved to Waltham 10 years ago and said he's never looked back. He ran against Peter Koutoujian for the same seat last November and lost, and now that Koutoujian has left the Legislature to be the Middlesex County Sheriff, Dixon is making a move again.
Lawn has been on the Watertown Council for five years, and owns a small real estate practice in town since 2004. Prior to that, he worked at Fidelity, but was laid off in 2002.
He said that experience was central to his understanding of issues facing constituents, many of whom have fallen on tough times.
“They're issues I have dealt with personally,” said Lawn. He said he remembers when he had to pay $1,700 a month to pay for his healthcare and the difficulties he faced while starting his own business, especially when his wife became pregnant with their triplets. The couple now has five children.
Lawn said if elected, his focus will be on job creation and increasing revenues. He said he'll look into agencies and departments like Massport and the Probation Department. He wants to close tax loopholes and help come up with ways to hold accountable companies that leave the state after receiving tax breaks.
“The local aid cuts that we've had over the last few years have really hindered each of these communities' abilities to fund what they care about. I'm concerned about my opponents view to slash money,” said Lawn.
Dixon said his idea of trimming costs could be implemented without affecting public services.
“The fat that's in there, we can do that without laying off police and fire and we can do that by cutting away from different areas like compensation and instituting pay freezes,” he said. “On the revenue side, we need to relax the regulations to bring jobs back into the state.'' He said he wants to deal with laws that require wages on government jobs to be equal to those paid to union workers.
"We need to revise those to make them more competitive,” Dixon said.
Dixon works for American Airlines, and was a Naval aviator for eight years. Before moving to Waltham, his family live in Ft. Worth, Texas, which is where American Airlines is headquartered.
He said he'll keep his job if elected, but since he flies out for one-day to three-day stints and has flexibility with his scheduling, he doesn't foresee any issues that will impede his legislative duties.
“When I'm home, I'm home in the district,” said Dixon. "When you see me, I'm working for the people in the district."
Lawn beat three competitors in the Democratic primary for the nomination last month, and enjoyed support from both Newton and Waltham voters, even though he is a lifelong Watertown resident. Dixon didn't have any Republican competitors.
Lawn said he'll continue his real estate business but that most of the work happens during nights and weekends.
“My commitment to these neighborhoods has been lifelong,” he said.
Dixon said he's ready to be the voice of change for voters.
“We need two voices on Beacon Hill. The one-party government, it's leading us to more taxes,” he said. “We need different ideas.”
Megan McKee can be reached at email@example.com.