Crean challenging Fattman in Worcester and Norfolk District

Crean challenging Fattman in Worcester and Norfolk District

Democrat Christine Crean, left, challenges Massachusetts State Sen. Ryan Fattman.

BLACKSTONE – Massachusetts State Sen. Ryan Fattman will face a challenge from Democrat Christine Crean when voters in the Worcester and Norfolk District head to the polls on Nov. 3.

Fattman is a Republican who served two terms in the state House of Representatives before he was elected to the state Senate in 2014. A resident of Sutton, he was the first Republican since 1938 elected to represent the district, which includes Blackstone, Bellingham and Millville, along with other towns in southern Massachusetts.

Crean is a Democrat and Milford resident who previously served as chairwoman of the Milford Democratic Town Committee. She is a former regional vice president of Service Employees International Union Local 509 and runs a private practice as a social worker.

Though she initially opted not to run, Crean later had her name added to the general election ballot by successfully getting more than 300 write-in votes during the state primary. Crean said she decided to launch a campaign because no other candidates were stepping forward and she doesn’t think Fattman’s views align with the those held by the voters of the district.

“I didn’t feel as though Fattman supported policies that support women’s issues, working people, LGBT concerns,” she said. “His policy decisions and leanings I didn’t feel aligned with the rank and file of the people of the district.”

Fattman, on the other hand, said his votes are heavily influenced by what he hears from voters. He said voters in the Worcester and Norfolk District are hardworking, community-oriented individuals who appreciate the country’s founding principals of freedom, opportunity and working hard to get ahead.

“I think it’s the same criticism that happened two years ago and four years before that, and I’ve been re-elected each time by a landslide,” he said.

Fattman, who serves as assistant minority leader, recently made headlines for his efforts to delay a vote on a proposed police reform bill. Fattman defended the move, pointing out the bill was released to legislators just a few days prior to the vote and still has not been made into law due partly to concerns about its implications for public employees.

“There’s no one on god’s good earth that would believe that this is good process except those who are part of that majority power,” he said.

Crean, who described herself as progressive in social issues and fiscally more moderate, said she supports improving the healthcare system and raising the minimum wage. She also said the state should revisit its tax breaks for large companies, particularly with the COVID-19 crisis impacting the state budget.

Fattman also listed taxes as a priority and said he would not support raising taxes or fees on gas or income at this time. He criticized the Baker administration’s handling of school reopenings during the COVID-19 crisis and said local districts could have been given more guidance on how to reopen safely.

With regard to education funding, Crean criticized the current charter school system, saying it spreads resources too thin.

“It seems to have morphed into a parallel system that’s going to be hard to sustain, especially with limited budgets now,” she said.

Fattman said he supports competition in education and believes that recent changes to the funding formula will alleviate some of those concerns. He also supported changing the education funding formula last year with the Student Opportunity Act, but warned those changes may be difficult to sustain in the COVID-19 economy, and said living up to those promises will be a priority for him.

Both candidates have kept up active campaigns both online and in person as COVID-19 changes the dynamics of this year’s election. Crean said she’s hoping to reach swing voters and believes some of the mistrust and anger directed at Washington will help her in her campaign.