TRI-TOWN TRANSCRIPT: Rep. Brad Hill looks to funding, housing in 2016

The Tri-Town Transcript covers Rep. Hill's priorities for 2016 and beyond.

Rep. Brad Hill looks to funding, housing in 2016
By Tim McCarthy

Eighteen years, nine terms, and two re-districtings later, 4th Essex District State Rep. Brad Hill, R- Ipswich, is still chomping at the bit to pull papers for his reelection bid in 2016.

Hill, who was named the assistant minority leader for state’s House of Representatives in 2015, says he’s discovered a rather conventional formula to successfully serve the district’s towns of Hamilton, Wenham, Ipswich, Topsfield, Rowley, and Manchester.

“Things haven’t really changed since I was elected,” he said during a recent visit to the Hamilton Senior Center. “It’s still the same recipe: Making sure our citizens are taken care of through constituent services, full-time representation, and continuing to work with our local leaders. I hope to continue that moving forward.”

The formula appears to have worked for Hill, as his last contested election was in 2008.

For 2016, Hill said he’ll continue to work across the political aisle at the Statehouse to secure greater state funding and aide for his communities, combat the ever-growing opioid crisis, and balance the state’s budget.

“I’m a firm believer that once you’re elected, you work together to the good of the Commonwealth,” he said. “I’ve always worked in that spirit. We work with everyone no matter what political stripe they are.”

The aforementioned balanced budget means a strong fight for Hill to maintain local aid funding for the fairly affluent communities he represents, especially when supporting regional school districts, infrastructure improvements, and maintaining local resources.

“It’s going to be a juggling act,” he said. “Any cut to (local aid) is going to hurt the services back home... I’ve always felt the funding formula has not been equal to communities like mine.”

Examples of infrastructure projects include securing funding to fix a culvert on Grapevine Road in Wenham, along with associated sewer line fixes, and securing close to $1 million from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to improve Route 97 through Topsfield last year.

“One of the biggest jobs we have (as legislators) is to advocate for our communities for those funds,” he said. “We’ve been pretty successful I might argue.”

Hill said increasing affordable housing for his communities would also be a priority in 2016.

In Hamilton, Hill plans to join district Senator Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, and Hamilton Board of Selectmen Chairman Scott Maddern for a public forum later this month discussing the opportunities and options of Chapter 40B, the state’s affordable housing law.

“A lot of people hear Chapter 40B and don’t think they have a lot of input. That’s not true,” he said. “Citizens have a lot of input. It’s arguably a very different program now and we want (the public) to be educated.”

Specifically, Hill said he wants to encourage a more diverse housing stock allowing government or school employees, as well as those in the private sector, to live where they work.

“We need to ensure that those who work in the communities can live there,” he said.

He also aims to increase affordable housing availability for local veterans restructuring the application process and pool of availability.

As Hill looks to secure almost two decades in the statehouse, he noted prior and ongoing efforts in the statehouse will continue to be his greatest selling point for voters.

“When I run for reelection, I run on my own merit and my own record,” he said. “When push has come to shove, I do what’s best for this district.”