Fairhaven businessman Rick Trapilo cites his management experience at 10th Bristol Race

Questions and answers
Rick Trapilo

Why are you running? And how would your background and experience guide your work as a legislator?

Why I run is because I have so much to be grateful for in the south coast community.

I built my business career here on the south coast with my wife, Margaret. My professional career, I was executive vice president, general manager of a large global company in the industrial park for more than 20 years. Left there, had a wonderful career at Xerox. I came back from a career in high tech and believe it or not you opened Pub 6T5 in New Bedford on Ashley Boulevard. My wife Margaret has been involved in the New Bedford community for 30 years, running a beautiful women’s clothing boutique called Margaret’s Boutique, also located on Ashley Boulevard.

Still very active in politics since growing up in a family of three in Dorchester, I have continued to watch political news – a dearth of news – coming from the south coast of our current leadership. And what I found striking was that the gentleman I’m running against, no one knew. So, Bill, I felt like an absent, phantom leader.

So I spoke with my wife. I said, “Margaret, I can’t just sit back and let things go on in the state of Massachusetts the way they are.” So I started researching Rep Straus and saw how different we were two people. And I realized that I could make a difference with my business experience, my passion, my love of this country, my love of this community.

What are the top three things you want to accomplish if elected?

First, infrastructure. I want to work to finally get the Fairhaven Bridge started. For 30 years, politicians have been talking about it. This is an economic problem for our south coast community. I’m a gentleman who’s managed manufacturing facilities in the US and the Far East – I know how to get the job done. So I would target a real strategic plan to bring in the engineers, the designers, work with Mayor Mitchell in New Bedford, work with the board in Fairhaven and the other communities to get a bridge built.

Second, as a legislator, I would go back to taxes and try to be the fly in the oil on Beacon Hill to say, “We can’t be called Taxachusetts all the time; we need to make constructive reforms to our taxes to put money back in people’s pockets. So, I would fight for tax reforms and ways to reduce our taxable income to the poorest and to help the most needy families.

So what [I would] look across the board for business. I’m a businessman and people can always say, “Let’s tax corporations more; let’s hit them; let’s get even more profit for them. When you do that, it’s really a counterbalance to their ability to hire more people, to make capital investments. We should do everything we can to attract businesses to the south coast community, to entice them to open businesses here for high-paying union jobs, for high-paying normal manufacturing opportunities that are not there.

The third thing I would do is really look at our transportation policies. We were promised a high-speed rail system for the south coast community. This high-speed rail system is basically a slow-speed diesel train built on the old tracks. Instead of innovating, looking at what the rest of the world has done like the TGV in Europe, like the high-speed train in Japan, they’ve started with old technology that only attracts about 2-3% of all those who travel to get people on the train. People don’t use the train because it is considered dangerous and slow. So I would be looking to really create an innovative strategy to say, “How do we fix the failing MBTA system?”

How should state lawmakers help Massachusetts families deal with high inflation?

First and foremost, we should eliminate the gas tax. It’s not a game; it’s not a gimmick. The gas tax triggers inflation, because the gas tax is paid to everyone who drives to work, for every delivery made, et cetera. So the first thing they should do is short-term gas tax relief, period.

Then they should look at an economic package to tell the poorest in our society and our seniors, how are we going to help them? My idea with the elderly is that no elderly person should pay for their health care. We must take care of the people who helped build this state with their blood, sweat and tears.

Then I would look at working class families to see how we can increase the points that are on food stamps because they can’t keep up with the cost of inflation or look for ways to get a reduction in short-term tax for families that are in our lower per capita income.

How would you solve the housing affordability crisis in greater New Bedford?

It is a serious problem. The sad thing about housing in New Bedford is that Mayor Mitchell just announced a great program with ARPA [American Rescue Plan Act] funding, and he designated some key areas for vacant buildings in the city. I haven’t seen, being in commercial real estate and looking at it, no outside developer comes in to say, “I want to put 20, 30 units; I want to put 50 units; I want to build beautiful townhouses.

So I think we, as legislators, as political leaders, really need to get New Bedford out to business people. We are a welcoming city, we are a city where you can come and make a great capital investment.

How do you see your role in the realization of the South Coast Rail project?

The South Coast Rail must be completed. There has been so much money invested in this rail system that it needs to be terminated.

My opponent said he was already looking at the process of having electric trains in place in 2030. I would start that process now. Because if we really want to go green, going green means you need capacity on the grid, you need plans to generate electricity, you need charging stations for your buses. There is a whole series of infrastructures that must be built in advance before having an electric train. So I would start these discussions right away because, as we know, the state doesn’t move as fast as the corporations. But you need someone who has the innovation to say, “Hey, we’re doing this wrong,” and that comes from my personal experience. And I think we did this train wrong.

But the project has to end, just to get something built. You can’t throw this away after all these years of investing.

What is your position on the right to abortion?

This is perhaps the most divisive personal issue we face as a country, absolutely without a doubt. Where I stand, to paraphrase President Clinton, his three words were, “It has to be legal; it must be safe; and it should be rare.

I don’t understand why the Supreme Court did what it did at this time. I hope it wasn’t political. I hope their views were more fundamentally about the Constitution from what they said while reading the documents, but I believe that a woman has the right to have an abortion, in case of rape, incest, health, and I believe that is a fundamental right as the former president said.

With the right to abortion, we must also discuss, as a father of four children and grandchildren, [about] sex education and understanding that contraception should be used first and foremost. When a man and a woman agree to have a sexual relationship, they must understand that this relationship can create life. So I am a full-fledged promoter who in high school, in colleges, makes contraception available to every man and every woman so that this issue does not become a drama for a woman’s life as a young teenager. So I think contraceptives should be free and distributed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We certainly have those funds available, so that’s something I would absolutely push for.

What’s the last book you read?

It would be a Tom Clancy novel – I reread “The Sum of All Fears”. I love Tom Clancy.

What’s the last TV show you binged?

It was during the pandemic, because I hadn’t eaten anything, and it was Breaking Bad. I had heard about it, I experienced it and I must say that I was anxious. My wife and I watched it. I think we did it in four, five days after we finished our work. It was not a comfortable series. I felt very tense during all of this!

What is your favorite place in the South Coast region and why?

My back patio at my beautiful home in Fairhaven, because of the sunsets over New Bedford Harbor. Of all the places in the world, when I want peace and serenity, I go home. We have a beautiful western exposure, my wife Margaret and I have worked so hard to live in this house. Sit on the back deck, entertain family and friends, have a nice glass of cabernet—I’m a red wine drinker—and watch the beautiful water, see the fishing boats come in and out, and watch the sunset. It’s a beautiful day.

Email Grace Ferguson at [email protected].

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