In an unusually active election season for the SouthCoast delegation to the State House, Rick Trapilo, a former international business executive and local restauranteur, has mounted a Democratic primary challenge in the 10th Bristol District.

The 10th Bristol has always included the towns of Fairhaven, Marion, Mattapoisett, and Rochester, but redistricting has now included a sliver of Acushnet and most of Ward 1 in New Bedford. The district has been represented by Bill Straus since 1993.

"I am a blue collar working-class Democrat," Trapilo said when he joined me on air recently. "Versus Bill Straus, who is an elite Beacon Hill career politician who has been in office for decades."

Before establishing roots on the SouthCoast, Trapilo grew up the son of two Polish Immigrants in Dorchester. After earning his MBA in Chicago, Trapilo took a management position at an international manufacturing distribution company located in New Bedford's industrial park. He then served as the company's President for Far East Operations in Japan. Trapilo then worked for Xerox before leaving to engage in multiple entrepreneurial endeavors.

Trapilo's small business successes include: opening a chain of gyms with his late brother, helping his wife with the management of Margaret's Boutique in New Bedford, and opening Pub 6T5, a staple in dining and entertainment in the city's North End.

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Though this is his first time running for elected office, Trapilo said he has always aligned himself with the Democratic Party.

"I have always been a Democrat," he said. "If I ever changed party, I think my father, Wallace Trapilo, would come out of the grave and kick me in the butt."

Trapilo said his platform is centered on three key areas: public safety, education, and jobs.

"How do we fight crime? A key area, jobs," Trapilo said. "I don't think a young kid today wakes up in the morning and says, 'I want go out and rob a bank. I want to sell drugs.' The system has failed them. Perhaps it's their parental upbringing, perhaps it's education. Most importantly, maybe it's the political people that have not provided the jobs for that young man to be able to afford a good living, to be able to afford a good income for their family, for their children. But to fight crime, I think you need to do it with education and providing the community with good paying jobs."

Trapilo said he supports the Work and Family Mobility Act, landmark legislation that would allow for undocumented immigrants to legally obtain a driver's license. Rep. Straus, as Chairman of the House Transportation Committee. had a key role crafting the legislation and in its expected passage.

However, Trapilo expressed concern that the driver's license could give undocumented immigrants the ability to vote, and thinks that safeguards should be in place to prevent that.

"This country is terribly divided with the voter issue," he said. "We just saw something in our last election that I hope we never see again. That was January 6th, when we had so many people that were so upset over voter integrity, and they were concerned with is our voting process tight, that we are sure that every vote is counted, that every person's vote means something? People were also concerned that we had people who were not citizens voting."

Trapilo clarified that he does not believe that there was voter fraud, nor does he think undocumented immigrants voted in the 2020 election.

When asked why voters in the 10th Bristol District should send a freshman representative to Beacon Hill in lieu of someone with decades of experience who holds a chairmanship on an influential committee, Trapilo said he thinks Straus has been an "absentee political leader" and that he would be a better advocate for the district on Beacon Hill.

"We're two different types of people," Trapilo said. "He's a good man, Mr. Straus. He's a litigator and a lawyer. I'm a businessperson and a builder. I look to take my enthusiasm to work full time. I will give people in this community 110 percent of my efforts. Political leadership is not just sitting on the board. It's actually being out in the community, finding out what the issues are. A state representative needs to support the communities in which we are overseeing."

You can listen to Trapilo's full interview on The Marcus Ferro Show below.

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