My campaign kick–off event was held at a local farm in Rehoboth, the Rosasharn Farm, in fact. It was held there to represent the understanding that we are realizing more and more the importance of the quality and type of food we consume. I've been promoting local food as part of our economic reformation. But these elements that I have been sharing with you in my blogs—the economy, education, quality of life and services for our veterans—are all connected to our environment and our health as well.
Bill Gates summarizes the importance of these interrelated issues we all face today the best when he said, “Innovations that are guided by smallholder farmers, adapted to local circumstances, and sustainable for the economy and environment will be necessary to ensure food security in the future.”
Here, the former chief executive and current chairman of Microsoft, the world’s largest personal computer software corporation, understands the critical importance and value of supporting local, independent farmers (and small businesses) in innovative ways. Everything surrounding us is based on a very basic rule: our survival, health and wellbeing depend on our natural environment.
Most of us take our health for granted; and, many take our environment for granted, too. Some politicians, like my opponent, tell us that government is the problem, and the solutions we must have are based upon a twofold idea that we need less taxes and less government. Unfortunately, through this pair of political glasses, the environment is reframed from being an invaluable and fragile resource to that of a commodity that can be exploited through economic manipulation and short–term mercantile gain only.
Yet, if such remedies to the challenges we confront only reside in these two points, how can our environment withstand the onslaught against it from unregulated, or minimally regulated, corporate forces with no outlay of capital to help protect it from such economic erosion?
I can think of one example when the free market has protected the environment, and it originated just over a century ago from a very unique Republican statesman who did it through the bully pulpit of the American presidency. “Teddy” Roosevelt, nationally, not only almost single handedly started the American conservation movement, he believed in the square deal as well.
Roosevelt initiated a program of reforms to keep the superrich and powerful from overwhelming small business owners, the middle class and the poor. These are some of the reforms that I support today— conservation of natural resources, control of mega corporations, and consumer protection.
I believe that government must act wisely, with sound economic policies and judicious investment in the middle class for the benefit of all sectors of our society.
What government program has most extended the quality of life and life expectancy for everyone? The answer is public drinking water. I believe this is an excellent example of good government protecting an important environmental issue and resource. But why don't we see it that way for air and food?
Massachusetts imports 85% of our food. Most of this food travels 1,500 miles before it arrives in our local supermarkets. However, having more local food means more local wealth and healthier eating; these three elements are mutually connected with one another.
Taking advantage of federal, regional and state grants and initiatives, we could promote state funded contracts with nursing homes or schools that mandate procurement policies purchasing more local food. Such farm to fork food strategies will help make our economy wealthier, our people more prosperous and our citizens healthier because such measures represent locally based investment.
Whether it is the food we eat, the water we drink, or the air we breathe, we must protect nature and respect it because we are a fundamental part of it. Whether it is business or government institutions, non–profits or individual homes, the energy and resources we consume have an impact on the environment and our pocket book. My message is that they are connected and that we can create win–win scenarios for the betterment of everyone throughout our communities.
The more energy being saved, the more money not leaving our local economy: showing resilience and creativity in our use of energy, food and natural resources help us become more independent. We become stronger, more hopeful and less bound to desperate measures of survival, especially those that pit everyone against one another. We can become a vibrant economic force in southern New England.
If you elect me, let me share just one idea here below that I'd like to propose.
I would like to bring local businesses and government together in the district and invest in building a cellulose insulation plant. This facility can be built at a fairly low cost. The supply of insulation materials would come from our paper waste stream in our garbage. A greater incentive program to insulate more homes and buildings will save over 25% on heating and cooling bills.
Also, if solar panels can be used to help offset the use of oil to heat the demand for hot water, even more savings can be realized.
HOUSE HEATING FUEL: Norton Rehoboth Seekonk Swansea
Fuel oil, kerosene, etc.: 1,893 3,124 2,901 1,738
% of homes using fuel: 30.0% 78.3% 60.9% 28.2%
Based on the 2010 US Census, the chart above shows the number and percentage of households in the district that use fuel oil and/or kerosene for heat.
As one can see from this chart, there are a lot of folks in this area using heating oil that could benefit from a one–fourth reduction in their heating bills. More money at home, less demand on ever rising fuel costs and less pollution on our environment all lead us toward restoring strength in our communities.
I've run my campaign by stating that I will be an independent voice with vision in the State House. There are legitimate arguments that must be debated about inefficient or ineffective government regulation and bureaucracy hindering business growth or creation.
Let's have that discussion, bring people together, have an honest collaboration recognizing that government and our Commonwealth can be an important partner with the rest of the major stakeholders in our economic, cultural and societal sectors, and create new models. I'm running to serve you: I know we can revitalize our economy, reform education, giver greater honor to our veterans and protect our environment. I cannot do one without the other: that’s why the environment is one of four main issues in my campaign.
I am asking for your support and your vote on Election Day.
A. Keith Carreiro is a candidate to be the Massachusetts State Representative from Rehoboth, Seekonk, Precincts 4 and 5 of Swansea, and Precincts 1 and 2 of Norton. Keith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.