State Senate Hopefuls Highlight Differences

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: Politics

Early voting in Massachusetts started off heavy on Monday. More than 400 people cast ballots at the Harwich Town Clerk's office, shown here, according to Town Clerk Anita Doucette. There were 128 early voters in Chatham, said Town Clerk Julie Smith. Orleans saw 214 early voters. Registered voters can cast ballots at their local town clerk's office during regular office hours through noon on Nov. 4. Special hours will also be held On Saturday, Oct. 29; in Chatham hours that day are 8 a.m. to noon; in Harwich, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and in Orleans from 8 a.m. to noon. On Election Day, Nov. 8, voting will take place at the usual polling sites from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. WILLIAM F. GALVIN PHOTO

State senate hopefuls Anthony Schiavi, a Republican, and Democrat Julian Cyr agree on the central issues of the campaign. Both are pledging to be strong advocates for the Cape and Islands on Beacon Hill, and both are struggling to build name recognition with voters. So it's not surprising that, with the election less than two weeks away, they're attempting to underscore their differences.

Cyr, who grew up working in his family's restaurant in Truro, went on to study government and public health. He was a White House intern, working on environmental and energy policy initiatives, and was director of policy and regulatory affairs for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Environmental Health division. Under the Patrick administration, he was the DPH's deputy director for government affairs, working with lawmakers on public health policies and legislation. Since 2011, Cyr has served on the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth, chairing the commission in 2013 and 2014. 

“I'm running for state senate because I believe Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket should be a place where people can come and build a life and start a family, just like my parents' generation did,” Cyr said. Like his opponent, Cyr said he would work to support communities' efforts to create affordable housing and jobs, while fighting the opioid epidemic. Cyr said his experience on Beacon Hill makes him the best choice for the key state senate seat.

“Running for state senate isn't about who has the longest résumé,” he said. “We need the right leadership to move us forward.”

Cyr said he's worked on six state budgets, advocating for appropriations for public health programs, and then working to implement those policies and programs. He knows not only the key lawmakers on Beacon Hill, but also their staffers.

“I'm going to be able to tap into a preexisting network of connections,” he said. Cyr said he will also enjoy the benefits of serving in the state's traditionally Democratic legislature.

“I will be a senator who will be chair of a committee in his first term,” he said.

Schiavi describes himself as a strong, experienced leader with 33 years in public service. A retired general with the U.S. Air Force and the Massachusetts Air National Guard, he spent nearly three years as the town manager and police commissioner for the town of Ashland, Mass. 

“I bring a long track record of effective leadership and proven accomplishments,” he said. In his capacity as executive director of the former Massachusetts Military Reservation – now known as Joint Base Cape Cod – Schiavi said he actually created jobs and recruited businesses.

As a town manager, he helped Ashland obtain a $6 million state grant that made it possible for a private developer to build a $100 million rental housing complex that included affordable units. The housing complex, built near the town's MBTA station, is in turn spurring commercial and retail development nearby.

While affordable housing and similar initiatives are best led at the local level, Schiavi said he looks forward to supporting those efforts if he's elected to the state senate. The role of state lawmakers is to help provide resources and to “set the conditions for success,” he said.

Schiavi said he's not daunted by the prospect of being a Republican in a Democrat-dominated legislature. He has worked with many local political leaders from both parties, and is confident he can do so if elected. Schiavi acknowledged the leadership of State Rep. Sarah Peake, a Provincetown Democrat.

“I know she is somebody I can work with,” he said.

In addition to the state senate race, Lower Cape voters will be asked to decide a two-way race for Barnstable County sheriff, and a four-way race for two seats for county commissioner, in addition to four state ballot questions, a race for U.S. Congress, and the presidential election.