Candidate profile: Susan Williams Gifford
For the past 14 years, Susan Williams Gifford has served the 2nd Plymouth District as state representative and is up for re-election this coming November.
When asked why voters should re-elect her, she answered, “My numbers speak for themselves.”
The Wareham legislator participated in all 559 roll call votes cast in the House of Representatives between January of 2015 and July of 2016, achieving a 100 percent voting record.
Throughout her tenure, Gifford has made it her mission to know the residents of Wareham, Carver, and Middleboro.
“I know the people that I represent. I know the things that are important to them,” she said.
A native of Michigan, Gifford moved to Wareham in 1996 for a job opportunity in insurance. After a conversation with a friend, she decided to run for the Board of Selectmen in Wareham where she served for one term. During her term, she decided to run for state representative, and did so in 2000.
Though she was unsuccessful, she tried again two years later and has been in the office ever since. She’s represented Wareham and Carver for 14 years, and two precincts in Middleboro for four years.
She travels to Beacon Hill to meet with legislators and the governor often, but “most of [my] work is here meeting with people.”
She holds regular office hours in all three locations, attends events and meetings, and holds relationships with the town administrators in all three towns.
“People know where to find me if they need me,” she said. “I’m very happy that I’ve been able to help many people as their liaison to state government. In knowing what’s important to the district that I can deliver.”
Two things she’s very proud of is securing funding earmarks for Turning Point and the Wareham Council on Aging. With her help, the council was able to get $55,000 in funding for a new director.
This year, Gifford voted in favor of a 4.3 percent increase in general local aid. She also voted in favor of a bill that increased Chapter 70 aid (a program to aid elementary and secondary schools). This resulted in over $150,000 being awarded to Wareham, representing an increase in spending per student from $25 to $55.
Taking action against the opioid crisis, Gifford was also instrumental in the state's increase of opioid abuse program funding. Titled "An Act relative to substance use, treatment, education and prevention," the law includes prevention education for students, which has brought speakers and programs to Wareham schools.
Having taken a poll in July to see what residents care about the most, Gifford found out the first thing residents want to see is an increase in jobs in the economy. Following that are taxes and spending, and in third place was the opioid crisis.
“One thing that is important in order to stimulate the local economy is making sure we have good regional transportation,” said Gifford. “Another thing I have been trying to do is to pursue extending commuter rail from Middleboro/Lakeville to Wareham.”
Gifford currently serves as a member of the Cranberry Revitalization Task Force to improve the industry and help growers be more competitive with growers nationwide, and has served as a member of the Tourism Funding Formula Commission to provide funding to regional tourism councils, and is involved in substance abuse prevention programs.
If re-elected, Gifford plans to continue providing the service she has for the past 14 years, and focus on four things: keeping taxes low, caring for seniors, ensuring affordable housing, and protecting the environment.