Meet the CandidatesSep 28, 2020 11:28AM ● By Grace Allen
State Representative Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk, will face Democratic challenger Brian Hamlin in next month’s election. Dooley has served the 9th Norfolk District since 2014. Both candidates agreed to answer some questions for our readers.
Background Information: I am a Norfolk resident, married to CiCi, and we have four children: Caroline (23) who is a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, Emma (15), Jack (14), and William (10).
My father was a career Naval Officer and he and my mom live outside of D.C. but spend a lot of timehere helping with the grandkids. My in-laws live on a 300-year old farm in Millis and are a huge help to our busy lives as well.
I have been active in public service since the 1980s, working for President Bush, Senator Denton, and many others. I have been focused on the local community as I feel it is important to give back. I served 4 years as Chair of the Norfolk School Committee, 4 years on the Zoning Board of Appeals, as well as the Norfolk School Building Committee and the Plainville Municipal/Public Safety Building Committee. I also had the pleasure of serving as Norfolk Town Clerk for 3 years and this spring stepped in as the Medfield Town Clerk as a volunteer to help run the Presidential Primary and aid in transitioning to a new clerk after the previous one retired.
My volunteer work includes the Norfolk Lions, coaching KP Youth Football, KP/Walpole Youth Hockey, Norfolk Lions Youth Soccer, Wrentham Recreation Flag Football, and Wrentham Youth Soccer. I have served on the Board of Advisors of the SAFE Coalition (fighting the opiate epidemic), and Chief Justice Appointee of the child support task force (both in 2018 and 2020).
Professionally, I was in finance for 16 years and then owned a small construction/home remodeling company. Presently, I work full-time as a State Representative and serve as an on-call Firefighter/EMT on the Plainville Fire Department.
I have a B.A. in Political Science and Communications from Auburn University; MPA (Masters of Public Administration) from Anna Maria College; CFP (Certified Financial Planner) from American College; CMC (Certified Municipal Clerk), and numerous other certifications and degrees mostly based in the world of finance.
Why are you running for re-election and what makes you uniquely qualified? It has been my honor to serve the people of the 9th Norfolk District. I have built many close relationships with members of our community as well as with officials throughout the state.
I have been engaged politically on a state and national level (in one form or another) my entire life, mostly in a volunteer capacity. Through this involvement, I have gotten to know a lot of people whose sphere of influence cuts a broad swath throughout both the corporate and government worlds.
Relationships matter: whether it is helping someone get their unemployment straightened out, getting power restored after a storm, or even securing masks for folks during a pandemic; the key is knowing the right people to call and (more importantly) having them take your call. The fact that I have developed these friendships over my lifetime is an intangible that allows me to do much more for our towns than I could otherwise.
As corny as it sounds, I am running for re-election because I really love helping people and I can’t express how truly rewarding that is. When I was first elected I was excited to go onto the House floor and debate some exciting piece of legislation like something out of a movie. But I have learned that making a difference in people’s daily lives, being there for them at an incredibly difficult time, or simply going to bat for them to get past all of the government bureaucracy, has a much greater impact and is what really drives me.
What differentiates you from your opponent? I believe that one of my greatest strengths is that I am a full time legislator and dedicate all of my energy to serving the community. Being a State Rep is never the same from one day to the next. There is no set schedule to build around because emergencies rarely happen when it is convenient.
In contrast, my opponent owns and operates a small business and he has stated that if he wins he would split time between running his company and serving as a representative. I admire anyone that runs a small business--they are the lifeblood of our economy--but as a former small business owner myself, I know how all encompassing it can be. While I commend him for stepping forward and planning to do both, I honestly cannot fathom how either of these jobs could be done on a part-time basis without both of them suffering for it.
What do you think are the biggest issues facing the district, both short and long-term, and how will you work to resolve them? If I was asked this question 6 months ago I might have had a very different answer, but our entire world view is now colored by COVID-19 and unfortunately the fallout from this crisis will affect our district both in the short- and long-term. Small businesses are suffering and if relief isn’t forthcoming, there will be a ripple effect that will leave few unscathed. We need to get creative and work with our state and federal partners to make sure that they have the resources and the flexibility to come out of this without crippling debt. None of this will be easy and, as much as I hate to say it, not every business will survive. Therefore we need to plan for this reality and have programs in place for these people as well.
Another very real concern is that all of this will have a dramatic effect on our local budgets and ability to provide necessary services. If our local receipts are down and the state has to cut expenses to stay solvent, this will have a devastating impact on our operational resources, including our schools, public safety, and critical infrastructure projects.
We need to be proactive and apply for federal and state grants, work with business owners to create tax incentive programs to keep them afloat, and fine-tune every department to see what can be cut and where we can stretch our dollars a little further. People pay a ton in taxes and fixing these shortfalls with an override will not work, so we need to be creative, by looking at shared services with other towns, combining resources for better bargaining power in our purchasing, and working with the community to maximize our volunteerism. This all needs to be supported at the state level and I am working with the administration to make sure our “rainy day” funds are focused on keeping our towns whole. While there is no magic pill that can cure it all, if we work collaboratively and think creatively we will come out of this crisis better and stronger than ever.
The pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges for everyone. What do you think the state has done well in response to those challenges, and what do you think it could improve upon? I feel that the state has done an excellent job in taking this crisis seriously since the beginning. Massachusetts was one of the first states to see rapid spread so we had to mobilize quickly and come up with plans without having the luxury of seeing what had and hadn’t worked in other states. I believe the people of Massachusetts embraced the spirit of working together to “flatten the curve,” took that challenge to heart, and have since been one of the most successful states at controlling this epidemic.
But as this crisis continues to evolve, I would like to see a plan with better benchmarks and goal-based reporting. We are very smart and resilient people so if the government gave us more concrete steps to work toward with very deliberate outcomes, more people would rise to the challenge and we would be better off. I think the vagueness of many of the orders and moving the “goalposts” has added to the frustration and in the end will cause people to not trust that our government has their best interest at heart. Simply having certainty as to when each new phase will open up would do a great deal to help with our collective psyche, not to mention alleviate a bunch of stress for employers and employees alike.
I also believe that the state picked winners and losers early on by allowing mega-stores like Target and Walmart to remain open, whereas small town Main Street shops were forced to close without the ability to compete--even though many could provide better safety standards than the national chains. This was maddening and I can’t tell you how many business owners I spoke with who were on the verge of tears at the thought of losing their life’s work, not to mention their savings, their home, theircar, etc. It was a very scary time and we have to remember that this is still a reality for many folks. Fortunately we have gotten back on track, but we need to remain vigilant to ensure their continued success while planning for the “new normal” - whatever that may be.
Background Information: I graduated from KP High School in 1980, and since then have been working at Hamlin Cabinet Corporation in Norfolk. I became its President in 1999. I live in Plainville.
I met my wife Robin at KP High School, and we were married in 1981. Our oldest son Brian Jr. passed away at age 32 on June 11, 2014. He was a KPHS and Curry College graduate. Our daughter Brandi is 35 and engaged to Darin. She attended KPHS, St. Joseph’s College in Maine, and Columbia University. Our son Timothy is 32 and married to Katie and we now have our first granddaughter, Harper Brinn, age 3. Tim went to KPHS, Oakton Community College, and Lamar University. I also have a pet dog named Gracie, a 5-year-old Shitzu.
I serve as Vice-President of the Brian Hamlin Jr. Memorial Fund. I am on the Board of Directors of the SAFE Coalition, and the Board of Governors of Charles River Bank. I have coached baseball in Norfolk and Plainville, and worked with my daughter Brandi for ice skating.
Why are you running for office and what makes you uniquely qualified? I am running for State Representative because I believe that we need to restore transparency, accountability and communication back to our district. For too long we have had representation that is more interested in grandstanding and putting politics before people. I got in this race because I know I can provide that. COVID-19 has shown us how close many of our local businesses, working families, and residents are to financial ruin. As a small business owner myself, I know that in addition to the federal programs, we can be doing more for our small businesses, and I plan to do that through increased direct relief and working with the other representatives on Beacon Hill, as opposed to working against them. I also know that as a representative, I need to be available and accountable to my constituents. That is why I would immediately implement office hours both in person and via video conference, at times and in places that work for working families. Perhaps most importantly, I want to be transparent. Every vote I take, either on the floor or in committee, I will post on my website. I want to hear every voice as your next state representative, and I am fully dedicated to representing the people of the 9th Norfolk District.
What differentiates you from your opponent? I think that the biggest difference is in style. Our current representative spends lots of his time on Beacon Hill frivolously suing the governor, taking protest votes against bills his own party supports, and grandstanding about issues like the Janus bill, that only serve to strengthen workers and working people. I would go to work every day looking for solutions that work for our small businesses. I will work in the budget process to secure money for our towns. If I am elected, I almost certainly won't get the media hits my opponent does, but what I will get is sensible solutions that work for working families, and that is what my campaign is about.
What do you think are the biggest issues facing the district, both short and long-term, and how will you work to resolve them? It has to be dealing with the short- and long-term effects of COVID-19 on our businesses, working families, and residents. We could be looking at the greatest state and local budget shortfall in the history of our towns and state. This will require hands-on collaboration and hard work with both the state executive offices and the legislature. As a 20+ year business owner, I know that it takes collaboration, a strong work ethic, and dedication to the people you serve to get any project done. The COVID-19 response will be the biggest "project" that I will face in my first term, and I know that I will need to work with everyone in the legislature--Democrat, Republican or otherwise--to make sure we have a strong, sensible, and thorough response to this pandemic.
The pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges for everyone. What do you think the state has done well in response to those challenges, and what do you think it could improve upon? The state has had a strong response to COVID-19 thus far. I believe our governor has provided us with a very well thought out and measured plan. I have not agreed with everything he has done, but I think holistically speaking, he has done a good job. The legislature has also taken strong action to make sure our elections are safe and can be conducted in the safest way possible. I support these measures wholeheartedly and know that we need to take whatever steps needed to make sure voting is safe and accessible. Also, as a state, I believe that we could have, and should be doing more to defray the economic impact on working families.