Printed in the Sentinel & Enterprise.
The Sentinel & Enterprise asked the four candidates seeking the state Senate seat in the Worcester and Middlesex district a series of 10 questions on regional and state issues. The newspaper is publishing their replies over the next five days.
The special election is scheduled on Tuesday, Dec. 5.
Question: Healthcare now consumes 42 percent of the state's $40 billion budget, taking away funding for other discretionary needs like education. Is a single-payer system a possible solution or would it make things worse?
Sue Chalifoux Zephir, Democrat -- I believe access to quality affordable health care is a basic right, and we need to get big profits out of our healthcare system. A single-payer "Medicare for All" system would save families money by reducing administrative and advertising costs. We also need to take on the pharmaceutical industry and get control of the absurd, rising cost of prescription drugs.
Question: Should communities that place a ban on the sale of marijuana within their borders be allowed to share in state government tax proceeds derived from the industry?
Sue Chalifoux Zephir, Democrat -- Smaller towns like Lancaster, Lunenberg, and Sterling may not have a retail area that makes sense for the sale of marijuana, and marijuana retailers may decide not to locate in towns with less foot traffic. Those communities shouldn't be penalized for that. Every community should have a share in state tax revenues from the new marijuana industry.
COMING SUNDAY: Questions on increasing the minimum wage and placing a 4 percent surcharge on those earning $1 million and more.