Editors Note: With days to go until the Tuesday, April 12 special primary election, Patch recently sat down with Sean Durkee, a Democratic candidate for the 10th Middlesex District state representative seat, for an hour-long question-and-answer session. Check out our conversation below. The general election will be held Tuesday, May 10 and its winner will replace former State Rep. Peter Koutoujian, who was appointed Middlesex County Sheriff earlier this year.
Patch is planning to post stories on all five candidates, pending submission of information by each candidate.
Look for tomorrow's candidate candidate Q & A at 6 a.m.
Sean Durkee (To view of video of Durkee, click on the video box to the right.)
Job: Durkee is a business manager at Lincoln Laboratory, in Lexington, which conducts national defense technology research. Durkee joined the U.S. Army National Guard in 2002 and is now a Warrant Officer candidate in an intelligence unit. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2005-2006. He has never held an elected political post.
Family: Durkee is not married and has no children, although he says he would like both. He lives on Hammond Street in Waltham.
Durkee grew up in Waltham until he moved to New York at age 10 when his father got a new job there. Durkee graduated from Lewiston-Porter High School in Youngstown, New York.
Education: Durkee graduated from Waltham-based Bentley University in 1996 with a graduate degree in finance. He graduated from SUNY-Buffalo with a Bachelor’s business administration degree.
Why is Durkee running for state representative? “I think we can do better that what we have,” Durkee said. More specifically, Durkee said he wants to improve the district’s schools, hospitals and boost wages.
What issues would Durkee work on if elected as state representative? Durkee said his first priority would be creating high-tech jobs. Waltham-based medical device manufacturer Biogen-Idec is one example of the type of jobs Durkee would push for.
“We don’t want to focus on the low-skill, no-skill jobs,” Durkee said.
Additionally, Durkee said he wants to have private companies partner with schools to teach students job skills. That, he said, would not only provide students with job skills, but also create an employment pool for the companies.
“That’s exactly the kind of stuff I would like to bring,” Durkee said.
Education is also a big priority for Durkee. He said he would push for more state financial aid for students in secondary school or higher. The high price tag of college creates huge debts for students, he said.
“$15,000 a year [to attend college] is not affordable,” Durkee said.
What steps would Durkee take to balance the state's budget? He said he would review the budget and ask district residents what budget changes they want to see. Durkee said he would also try to find ways to eliminate fraud and waste.
“I would look at the entire budget," Durkee said.
What steps would Durkee take to control health care costs? “I agree with the single payer health care system,” Durkee said of the system where one agency pays each person owed money. He said he would also push for public employee unions to join the state's Group Insurance Commission, which has saved many communities money.
What does Durkee do for fun? “I like to run,” he said. Durkee said he often runs or hikes in Waltham.
“Does that make me tick? I guess so,” he said.
What are Durkee’s strengths? Durkee said he would excel at helping district constituents.
What are Durkee’s weaknesses? “I haven’t been polished on public speaking. I need to improve on that,” Durkee said.
Why did Durkee join the National Guard? “It was crazy,” Durkee said of his 2002 decision to join the Guard.
Durkee said he joined partly because he was unemployed. “It was something I always wanted to do."
Overall, he said his deployment to Iraq had a profound effect on him.
“I recognized the things I take for granted. It changed me for the better,” Durkee said.
For more information on Durkee's campaign, visit his Web site