The Enterprise: “Perpetual Problem-Solver: Representative Randy Hunt Keeps Cape Front And Center”

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017 @ 2:36PM

Last week, Enterprise Newspapers’ Steve Withrow stopped by Rep. Hunt’s State House office to interview him for a day-in-the-life feature. The resulting article was included in both The Mashpee Enterprise and The Sandwich Enterprise.

The discussion touched on the Representative’s top priorities, which include improving the Commonwealth’s mental health and substance use-related policies; replacing the Cape Cod Canal bridges and updating regional transportation infrastructure; and stimulating economic development in part by promoting competition in the residential high-speed internet sector.

Randy even shared some of his personal insights as to how he handles being an elected Republican in deep-blue Massachusetts, in the overwhelmingly Democratic House of Representatives.

The entire article is a worthwhile read (thanks Steve!). Here are some excerpts:

  • On Randy’s motto: “On the wall of his first-floor office in the Massachusetts State House on Boston’s Beacon Hill, Representative Randy Hunt has posted his office mantra: ‘Solving all of the world’s problems, one day at a time.’ The subhead: ‘It’s a lofty goal, but at a pace we can manage.’…”
  • On his priorities: “Since he was elected to the House of Representatives in 2011, Rep. Hunt’s primary issue has remained addressing substance use and mental health issues in the two counties in his district: Plymouth and Barnstable. He is also focused on ensuring economic development for the region, including improved transportation and infrastructure. ‘I represent two county commissions, two sheriff’s offices and two district attorneys,”’ he said during an interview at the State House Tuesday, November 14. ‘I bring to this job my credentials as a CPA [certified public accountant] and having been around for 60-plus years and having lived these issues.’…”
  • On his mental health and substance use bill“On the intersection of substance use and mental health, Rep. Hunt said he has been pushing for legislation that would allow incarcerated individuals who are having a mental health crisis to get psychiatric help more quickly. ‘Many sheriffs don’t have the budget to hire a staff psychiatrist or physician,’ he said. ‘Since the individual in crisis can’t stay in the general population, isolation—often using restraints—is the only option until a mental health assessment is possible. This can take hours to a day. I want a broader scope of people working under the auspices of a psychiatrist or physician who can make that decision more quickly and possibly more affordably.’ Rep. Hunt said he feels strongly that there are great opportunities to expand the pre-addiction and after-care stages of the substance use continuum. …”
  • On high speed internet and economic development: Bringing new jobs to Cape Cod remains essential, Rep. Hunt said. As part of the infrastructure needed to start and expand businesses on Cape Cod, he said businesses are looking at their options for high-speed Internet access. Today they have two options: Comcast broadband and the OpenCape fiber optic network… On the residential side, Rep. Hunt said, Comcast remains the only widely available option. Expanding OpenCape service to all residences in Barnstable County might cost between $100 million and $150 million, he said. ‘OpenCape won’t pay for this; can the towns pay for this?’ he said. ‘It doesn’t appear to me that towns are going to prioritize $1 million to $25 million to expand OpenCape residentially. They’ll spend the money on wastewater and other priorities.’ Comcast is introducing a technology called DOCSIS 3.1, a protocol to push gigabytes of data through coaxial cable at high speeds, he said. The average monthly cost across the state would be $105. ‘If you look at the monopoly problems with Comcast,’ he said, ‘you’re looking at pricing and service. If Comcast offers the same price across Massachusetts, the price problem takes care of itself. So we’ve decided to focus on the service problems.’ Rep. Hunt has suggested adding a feature to the state’s Commonwealth Connect mobile app that would allow residents to write about service problems with Comcast so that the complaints go straight to the town governments. ‘If you give the town the info, they can maybe hold Comcast’s feet to the fire,’ he said. DOCSIS 3.1, he said, might be a temporary bridge to emerging 5G wireless technology.
  • On partisan dynamics: “As a Republican in a largely Democratic Legislature, Rep. Hunt said he and his fellow GOP members’ options for advancement to chair a committee or become a majority leader are limited to nonexistent. ‘The power chain goes from the Senate President [Stanley C. Rosenberg] to the House Speaker [Robert A. DeLeo] to the governor [Charles D. Baker Jr.], so I need to work within that,’ he said. ‘Battling the Democrats is a losing strategy. They drive the bus and can pass and veto anything they want.’ Rep. Hunt said representing constituents as part of a superminority party can be both a plus and a minus for a Republican. ‘Democrats who come here aspiring to leadership positions have a dual track: they have to represent their constituents in the districts and do things that will make them stand out to climb the ladder,’ he said. ‘If you don’t do that, you become a backbencher.’ Because he does not have the same advancement opportunities as Democrats, even with a Republican governor, he said he feels ’empowered to vote as my constituents want and my moral code suggests.’ ‘I would rather be in the position I’m in,’ he said. ‘I never have to report to a minority leader as a Democrat might have to do when voting against the speaker.’ [Rep. Hunt’s aide] said his boss has the ‘rare ability to speak to liberals and to Trumpians, to straddle the line and collaborate.’ ‘I am not a hyper-partisan person,’ Rep. Hunt said. ‘I try to deal in facts. I don’t run off into ideological stuff.’…”

(Photo credit: Steven Withrow/Enterprise)


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