State senate hopeful draws a distinction on health care

For much of his life Ted Phillips of Sharon has wanted to serve in the State House. Now the candidate for the Bristol & Norfolk state senate seat might get his wish.

An aide to state Rep. Louis Kafka, D-Sharon, Phillips was the first to announce his candidacy for the seat vacated by state Sen. James Timilty, D-Walpole. The 33-year-old is facing off against Paul Feeney, a former Foxboro selectman and Timilty chief of staff, for the Democratic party nomination, scheduled for Sept. 19.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “I’m just really enjoying it.”

Phillips, who holds a degree in political science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, worked for Sen. Stephen Brewer, D-Barre, after graduation. He has been an aide to Kafka since 2006, although he plans to resign to devote himself full-time to campaigning.

Inspired by the television show “The West Wing” while in high school, Phillips always thought he would run for office someday.

“I just had the bug,” he recalled.

Phillips characterized the race between Feeney and himself as amicable and issues-based, with one distinction being their views on health care.

According to Phillips, Feeney (who was state director for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign), believes in single-payer healthcare.

“I am less confident that can be achieved on a state-by-state level,” he said. “I think single payer is a good idea. I just think it has to happen at a national level if it’s going to happen at all.”

At the local level, Phillips strongly opposed a proposed daily commuter rail pilot program to Foxboro.

“The MBTA needs to fix the system that it has before it contemplates expansion of any kind,” said Phillips, noting he wants to redirect funds earmarked for expansion into existing infrastructure.

Should he win the seat, Phillips lists his top three political priorities as increasing funding for education, fixing the MBTA system and tackling the opioid crisis. He also wants to reevaluate the role of charter schools, which he said have morphed into publicly-subsidized private schools.

Phillips had opened a campaign account to run for the 8th Norfolk State House seat, which is currently occupied by Kafka, prior to Timilty’s announcement, but explained it was established with an eye towards running for Timilty’s seat. He stressed he is fully committed to running for the Bristol & Norfolk senate seat.

“This isn’t about floating the name or anything like that,” he said.

Phillips lives in Sharon with his wife Bridget and their rescue dog, Lincoln. He has served on the Sharon Finance Committee for the last decade, and he says his experience in both state and local government gives him the right blend of experience for the state senate job. It is his first bid for elected office.

Kafka has endorsed Phillips, who also drew the support of Foxboro Democratic Town Committee chair Dennis Naughton. Both Phillips and Feeney have pledged to help elect whomever wins the primary.

“One of the priorities has to be keeping the seat blue,” said Phillips.

The special election will take place on Oct. 17. Former Walpole selectman Michael Berry, Walpole Chamber of Commerce Pres. Harry Brousaides, Jacob Ventura, an aide to Rep. Steven Howitt, R-Seekonk; and periodontist Timothy Hempton are seeking the Republican nomination, while former television news anchor Joseph Shortsleeve and Janet Kennedy of Foxboro are running as independents.

Source: The Foxboro Reporter

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