Paul Heroux said if he wins the Nov. 6 election for a seat in the state House representing the 2nd Bristol District (which includes most of Attleboro), he would use his travel stipend to purchase monthly MBTA passes that would be distributed to locals in a lottery. After hearing about this plan, Heroux's election opponent, Republican incumbent George Ross, said the Democrat is "quite late to the party" when it comes to making financial contributions to the community, and that he has been making them since 1978.
Heroux wrote in a press release that district residents who could prove they are regular MBTA commuters would submit their names to the lottery.
"At regular intervals, I will purchase monthly roundtrip tickets, and randomly select submitted names, and donate the tickets," he wrote. "Everyone would have an equal opportunity, regardless of political party. I plan to distribute 100 percent of my stipend in this fashion."
He continued, "I believe that one of the obligations of elected officials is to give back to the community they serve. By not taking the stipend, money paid by district taxpayers would be disbursed statewide. Here is an opportunity to give taxpayers their tax dollars back to them."
This campaign promise came one day after The Sun Chronicle reported Ross had received a $2,520 stipend for travel, meals and lodging during 70 days of work in the 2012 legislative session. State law allows legislators to receive a daily stipend based on how far they live from the State House. Ross can receive up to $45 per day on top of his regular salary. Had he taken the full stipend, he would have collected $3,150 this year.
"My stipend is returned to this city many times over, and I've never had to issue a press release to brag about it," Ross wrote in an email to Attleboro Patch in response to Heroux's announcement. "When you can do that, then you will know what it is like to be part of the fabric of our community. Mr. Heroux has barely scratched the surface and I encourage him to give more."
Ross wrote that since 1978, he has "given thousands of dollars to this city for every charitable activity possible." Among the recipients are a 4H club, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, youth activities, baseball teams, Christmas is for Kids, the YMCA, veterans organizations, churches and religious groups.