Q & A: Stoughton's State Representative Louis L. Kafka
Running unopposed in this election cycle, State Rep. Louis L. Kafka (D-Stoughton) answered questions reviewing the legislature's last session, previewing the next session, and giving his thoughts on Stoughton's most pressing issues.
Editor's Note: Stoughton is represented at the State House by Rep. Louis Kafka, a Stoughton Democrat (precincts 2, 3, 4 and 6) and Rep. William Galvin, a Canton Democrat (precincts 1, 5, 7 and 8) in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and by Sen. Brian A. Joyce, a Milton Democrat (all precincts), in the State Senate.
Where all three running unopposed in the Nov. 6 election, each is set to be reelected to another two-year term. Stoughton Patch sent Reps. Kafka and Galvin and Sen. Joyce a brief questionnaire; their responses are below.
State Representative Louis L. Kafka (Precincts 2, 3, 4 and 6)
In addition to four precincts in Stoughton, Kafka represents the town of Sharon, precinct 4 in Mansfield and precincts 3 and 4 in Walpole.
After years as a legislative staffer, I was first elected to the House of Representatives in November of 1990. I’ve served on the Transportation, Insurance, and Ways & Means Committees, and was the Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs. I am currently the Chairman of the House Committee on Steering, Policy, & Scheduling, which is charged with setting the House Calendar, and constituents can reach out to me anytime by phone at 617-722-2960 or by email at Louis.Kafka@mahouse.gov.
Q: Why did you choose to run for reelection?
A: I very much enjoy the challenges of being a State Representative, whether it’s constituent services or policymaking. I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish and the people that I’ve been able to help, but there’s always more to do and I’d like to continue doing it.
Q: Much has been written about the lack of competition in legislative races statewide. You are running unopposed. To what would you attribute this lack of competition? Voter satisfaction? Apathy? A feeling it is too difficult and costly to defeat a long-serving incumbent?
A: The easy answer here is to say voter satisfaction, but I think all of those factors come into play at varying levels in different races. The reason I’m unopposed in my district may be entirely different than another Representative’s. I think the voters are clearly satisfied with the job that I’ve done, enough that there is no real support for another candidate.
Q: What do you feel is the legislature's biggest accomplishment(s) in the past session? What do you feel was your biggest accomplishment as an individual legislator?
A: I think we got a lot accomplished in this session - ethics reform, casinos, health care payment reform, foreclosure relief, and balanced budgets that reflect the Commonwealth’s priorities, including EBT card reform. For me personally, it’s hard to pick just one- I had a very successful session. I was able to close a loophole in the drug trafficking laws covering methamphetamines, passed a law mandating health insurance coverage for children with cleft palate and cleft lip, allowed for people with Crohn’s disease or similar conditions to access private restrooms if they’re having an emergency, and designated Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week in October to make people aware of the existence of this disease in men. I’m proud of each of these accomplishments.
Q: What are some of the goals you hope the legislature can achieve this upcoming session?
A: Transportation reform is going to be a big challenge for us heading into next session. We need to find a way to improve our infrastructure and reform the transportation system so that they’re solvent and providing the service that commuters have the right to expect. I look forward to working with Chairman Straus (Joint Committee on Transportation) and Speaker DeLeo to tackle this problem. And as usual, crafting a budget given the continuing economic difficulty.
Q: Heading into this next legislative session, what are some of the biggest issues Stoughton faces (specific to the town) and what can Stoughton's State House delegation on Beacon Hill do to help?
A: I think that South Coast Rail is going to be back in the headlines, and I think that Bill, Brian, and I will be working hard to make sure that Stoughton is being treated fairly as we go through the process. Towns like Stoughton, along with Canton and Easton, will all be asked to make sacrifices for this project and we intend to see that Stoughton is compensated accordingly.