Laugenour predicts win

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Thursday October 21, 2010

PITTSFIELD -- State representative candidate Lee Scott Laugenour wants to be a ground-breaking lawmaker in Massachusetts who'll put the fear into the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

"I do want to become the first Green-Rainbow Party candidate elected to Beacon Hill," he said.

Laugenour is battling fellow Lenox resident, state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, who seeks a fifth two-year term. Pignatelli represents 17 towns in Berkshire and Hampden counties and Pittsfield's Ward 5B in the 4th Berkshire District.

Laugenour said when he arrives at the Statehouse in January, his victory will have the entrenched Democrats trembling for their political futures.

"It'll be time for the speaker of the House and legislative leaders to be afraid," he said. "When I beat Smitty Pignatelli, they should be afraid the same thing could happen to them."

Laugenour's bold prediction of winning on Nov. 2 came as he outlined his campaign platform during an editorial board meeting with The Eagle on Wednesday.

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Laugenour, 53, was a language teacher in Tokyo and later worked in various capacities for the Marriott Hotel chain. The California native who moved to Berkshire County in 1994 and to Lenox in 1998 is currently campaigning full time. He is the Lenox representative to the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority and is a member of the Lenox Environmental Committee. He ran unsuccessfully for selectman in 2009.

Laugenour's top priority, if elected, is tax fairness, especially for low- and middle-income households hit the hardest by regressive taxes such as property taxes.

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"It doesn't take a whole lot to explain to people the need for tax fairness," he said. "They can smell a rat with the current tax structure."

Laugenour called for a progressive income tax as one way to achieve tax fairness, which also includes tax value.

"The value we get from our tax dollars we also have to change," he said. "If we don't spend it wisely and it results in more tax breaks for the wealthy -- it's more money for the beast."

While Laugenour opposes Question 3 on the ballot to roll back the state sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent, he said the referendum gets voters talking about tax fairness. Laugenour said he would have supported returning to a 5 percent sales tax, before the Legislature voted to increase to the current rate last year.

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The Green-Rainbow Party candidate vows to push for so-called "single-payer" health care coverage, a term he's found is confusing to the voters.

"There will be no stronger advocate for public health insurance than myself," he said. "Let's call it what it is -- public health insurance."

Laugenour is also a big advocate of expanding BRTA bus service to nights and Sundays and educating people that public transportation is a cheaper and envrionmentally friendly alternative to driving a car.

"When people move into town, give them a bus schedule and get them to try [the BRTA]," he said.

Laugenour lives at 205 Housatonic St. in Lenox with his partner, Mark Woodward, a full-time paralegal in New York City.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.


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