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Lebeau Takes on Binienda in 17th Worcester House race

Thursday, July 12, 2012


William LeBeau

William LeBeau’s candidacy marks the first time Democrat John Binienda of Worcester, has faced a challenger in the past 12 years. Binienda, a 26-year incumbent in the 17th Worcester state representative district is pitted against LeBeau, a first time candidate for statewide office.

Both men expressed confidence in their chances in the general election.

“All one has to do is look at the record I have,” Binienda said. “I’m going to run on my record of accomplishment.”

LeBeau, a truck driver from Leicester, does not see his opponent’s incumbency as an obstacle for him.

“I’m not sure in this environment that being an incumbent is as advantageous as usual,” LeBeau said, citing voters’ frustration. “There’s an understanding that at some point it is time for change.”

Differing Outlooks

While LeBeau discussed constraints the district is facing, saying that residents are feeling the effects of cuts and local aid budgets that have risen by only one percent, Binienda highlighted additional funds of $70,000 for education and $100,000 for local aid for the town of Leicester. He also said that he secured $2.5 million for education and $9.2 million in local aid for Worcester this year.

“I’ve brought in millions and millions of dollars to the district for the past 26 years. The only time things were bad was in 2008 when the recession, which was almost a depression, hit,” Binienda said.

But LeBeau reports conversations with anxious voters. “People are upset about the economy and jobs. We haven’t had any job creation in the last several years.” He blames the economic stagnation on high taxes, increasing fees and government waste, pointing to Massachusetts’ population decline and subsequent loss of a congressional seat as a consequence. 

Strong Criticism

When asked to respond to LeBeau’s criticism Binienda dismissed it. “I’ve never seen my opponent and I don’t know who he is.” Binienda also seemed to question his opponent’s credentials, saying, “He hasn’t done anything besides join the Tea Party Republicans.” 

LeBeau said that while he does not have elected experience his experience serving the community is more important. “We need more people like myself in the State House rather than career politicians.” He also said that he is not a member of the Tea Party but supports its values. 

John Binienda

Need for Reform

Despite differences the candidates are in agreement on the issue of EBT reform. The electronic benefit transfer cards came under fire after widespread misuse of the cards at nail salons, liquor stores, adult venues, and on cruise ships were uncovered.

“People are furious and I agree with them 100 percent,” Binienda said. “EBT cards should be used by mothers and fathers to put food in their hungry children.”

LeBeau called the abuses and Governor Deval Patrick’s veto “outrageous,” but questioned how they were allowed to occur. “It should never have gotten to this point.”

Voter Outreach

Both candidates are working to connect with as many voters as possible. LeBeau said that his goal is to speak with every voter in the district no matter what neighborhood they live in or their party affiliation. 

Binienda said that he holds office hours and socials all the time in order to keep in touch with the needs of the district. When asked about his strategy he stressed the perpetual nature of the campaign.

“You never stop campaigning from the time you get elected.”


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