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EDITORIAL

Rodney Elliott for 1st Middlesex Senate

Democrat voters in the First Middlesex State Senate District have a chance to make a political breakthrough: elect a candidate who’ll be a full-time senator on Beacon Hill.

That person is Rodney Elliott, the most experienced candidate in the five-member field who can lay claim to municipal and state legislative experience.

Elliott has been a respected Lowell city councilor for 21 years. But he’s ready to step down from the office, give up his state Department of Conservation and Recreation post, and devote his energies 24/7 to serving the constituents of Dunstable, Groton, Pepperell, Tyngsboro, Westford and Lowell at the Statehouse.

Only one other candidate — Westford’s Terry Ryan — said he will follow Elliott’s lead if elected In November.

The others — AFL-CIO leader John Drinkwater, attorney William Martin, and real estate appraiser and Lowell City Councilor Ed Kennedy — said they won’t give up their day jobs or, in Kennedy’s case, his elected post on Lowell’s City Council.

Kennedy says he will retain his $25,000 a year council post for as long as it takes until a loan order for the new Lowell High School is approved. It could take up to a year or longer for that to happen. But here’s the kicker: The council already has a majority to push this project forward, with or without Kennedy’s vote.

If elected to the Senate, Kennedy will be a double-dipper, collecting his Lowell pay and Statehouse salary of $62,500 salary, plus $10,000 in office expenses.

Whose priorities would get Kennedy’s ear — the city’s or the 1st Middlesex?

Voters want to hold their elected officials accountable. What better way to do it than send someone to Beacon Hill who will give his undivided attention to taxpayers and residents.

Rodney Elliott has been pounding the pavement in 1st Middlesex communities since the day he announced his candidacy in February. His message is simple: “I will be dedicated to the people I serve, and focused on my main and only job at the Statehouse, from day one,” Elliott told The Sun. “The towns feel left out of the process. They won’t feel that way any more if they give me the chance.”

Over his more than two decades of work as a public servant, including a long stint as a budget analyst for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Elliott’s built a reputation as a fiscal watchdog and independent thinker. Funding of public schools, rising health-care costs, public safety, and the opioid crisis are key issues he wants to address if elected.

“Some things can be done effectively and cost efficiently with policy changes. Others like the schools might need funding. But I will be seeking to drive out the waste first, so we can use that money without placing more burdens on taxpayers. That’s the balance I seek,” said Elliott.

That’s music to our ears, and it should be to the 167,000 voters and 60,355 homeowners in the 1st Middlesex.

Free the Senate seat from potential conflicts of interest for a candidate sworn to serve one constituency — the people of the 1st Middlesex.

The Sun endorses Rodney Elliott in the September 4 Democrat primary for State Senate.

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