Politician's plan to serve as mayor and state rep 'incredibly insulting,' Baker says
Rep. Paul Heroux was elected mayor of Attleboro, but says he will keep his job in the Legislature at the same time.
A state representative's plan to keep his job in the Legislature while also serving as the mayor of Attleboro is "insulting" to voters and his colleagues, according to Gov. Charlie Baker.
"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," Baker told WCVB's "On the Record" during an interview that aired Sunday morning.
The News Service reported last Wednesday that Attleboro's mayor-elect, Democrat Rep. Paul Heroux, plans to serve out the remaining 14 months of his term in the House even after taking over at City Hall, in part to give his party a better chance at holding the House seat.
Heroux also told the News Service he wants to "finish some of the projects I started" in the Legislature and doesn't want his city to have to pay the $50,000 he said it would cost to hold a special election.
"I know people are going to criticize me, 'Oh, he's getting two salaries.' That's true, but I'm also doing two jobs," Heroux said.
"Rep. Heroux's decision to be a part-time mayor for shallow, political reasons is wrong for the people of Attleboro, who deserve full-time service," MassGOP spokesman Terry MacCormack shot back a day later. "It's hard to imagine anything more disrespectful to taxpayers than Beacon Hill Democrats' massive pay hike, but Heroux's decision to provide part-time, sub-par service while collecting two taxpayer-funded salaries is an even worse failure of leadership."
Heroux did not respond to News Service requests for comment on Sunday and Monday morning.
During the campaign, Heroux criticized Attleboro Mayor Kevin Dumas as overpaid at a salary of $122,000 a year and said if elected he would commission a study to determine how much he should earn as mayor, the Attleboro Sun Chronicle reported in August. As a state rep, Heroux receives base pay of $62,548 and is entitled to an additional $15,000 for office expenses.
Both MacCormack and Baker noted former Rep. William Lantigua in 2010 aborted his plan to serve in the Legislature and as mayor of Lawrence after he won the mayor's post.
"I don't think people in public life should have two jobs," Baker said on "On the Record." "I think they should have one." The governor added, "You talk to any mayor in Massachusetts they'll tell you that's a full-time, seven-day job."
North Attleboro Republican Rep. Elizabeth Poirier, who represents part of Attleboro, was surprised last week to hear Heroux plans to remain in the Legislature through 2018, calling it an "incredible revelation."
"I think we can carry on once he leaves until the special election takes place, which is the normal procedure," Poirier told the News Service. She said, "He has no idea what kind of a schedule he's facing as mayor of a city."
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.
Heroux said he was open about his intentions to finish out his House term when voters asked him about it during the campaign, and he said that Democratic officials in Attleboro agree with his course of action. Heroux informed House Speaker Robert DeLeo last Wednesday of his intent to serve in both positions, and DeLeo said it was "too early in the process" to say whether he might ask Heroux to choose between the two jobs.
Asked if that would be a double standard compared to the pressure brought by House leadership and then Gov. Deval Patrick on Lantigua to resign, DeLeo said, "Ultimately it became Representative Lantigua's decision what to do and I would say it would be the same with Representative Heroux."
The two-year legislative session will likely reach a climax next summer when the House and Senate rush bills to the governor's desk by July 31, the last day of roll call votes under the rules. The second year of the legislative session is usually "kind of a slow year," because the bulk of the lawmaking takes place in the first seven months, Heroux said, with the final five months mostly devoted to constituent services.
Saying he hasn't taken a vacation since a 2015 trip to Turkey, Heroux said the position of state representative is a "fulltime job that fluctuates" and he said there is overlap between his duties as state legislator and the duties he will assume as mayor. He said, "I don't have a family so I can do it."