Trapilo seeks state representative seat held by Straus
Rick Trapilo’s father, a first-generation American son of Polish immigrants, offered his son a piece of advice about the value of hard work.
“Either do it 200 percent, or get out,” his father would tell him. “If you’re going to dig a hole, make it the best hole you can dig.”
He’s bringing that same determination to his run for the Democratic primary against veteran State Rep. Bill Straus, D-Mattapoisett, who has represented the 10th Bristol District for 22 years.
The district includes Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester as well as Fairhaven and parts of Acushnet and New Bedford.
Trapilo described himself as a “moderate-conservative Democrat’’ with traditional values.
“I kneel at church and I stand to salute the flag,” he said.
He views today’s Democratic party as “so progressive that working families have lost touch with them. They’ve gone far, far too progressive for regular working families.”
One of the inspirations for his decision to run is the vote by Straus not to eliminate the gas tax, which had been proposed to reduce the cost of fuel.
The vote by Straus to maintain the gas tax “showed a real insensitivity” that upset him, Trapilo said.
“Maybe 25 cents a gallon is not a lot” for some people, he said, referencing the amount of money that might be shaved on the gas price, “but for working families that makes a difference.”
Straus counters that studies have shown gas tax cuts do not automatically result in a big change in gas prices.
Also, Straus said, the gas tax is used solely to finance necessary transportation-related work, such as fixing roads and bridges.
“As a Democrat, you’re there to help the vulnerable people,’’ Trapilo said. “I think Bill has failed us. A true Democrat cares about the people, and the people today are hurting,’’ he said.
He advocates for more funding for police and for area schools. Money is available for these issues, he said, “if you go after it.”
The South Coast area often lacks funding that other parts of the state receive, he said.
“We don’t ever seem to share in the economic benefits,” he said. “We're always a stepchild.”
He vowed to work full-time as a state representative.
“I’m personally dismayed by the politicians we have in Washington and politicians like Bill Straus,” he said.
He described Straus as a “career politician” who has “lost sight of the fact that you’re there to represent the people, not support the political interests of Beacon Hill or yourself.”
“If I win this job, it’s seven days a week, people deserve that,” he said.
He questioned how Straus can work as both a state representative and an attorney.
Straus responded that he is not working as an attorney now. But he said he subscribes to the viewpoint - “call it old-fashioned’’ - that the legislature includes working people who are in their communities and “not just people on Beacon Hill.’’
“It’s helpful to run that business, meet that payroll and be a part of the general business community in the region.’’