Item Live: Moulton on a mission

‘I want to serve my country again’
Moulton on a mission

LYNN — He will range across the North Shore this weekend as he campaigns for votes ahead of next Tuesday’s election, but Democrat Seth Moulton said Lynn and its residents are crucial to his bid to win the Sixth Congressional District.

The city “is the gateway to the district from Boston,” said Moulton, and he said a Nov. 4 win at the polls will allow him to use his transportation development skills to work on bringing Blue Line rapid transit into Lynn.

Moulton said experience assembling a transit project in Denver in 2010 and another in Texas helped him learn how to bring public agencies at the local, state and federal level and private developers and investors together to build costly high-speed rail projects.

Pinning down federal dollars for a Blue Line extension will be one of his congressional goals, but Moulton said successful transit projects around the world prove that contractors building a transit line can work with developers interested in building projects along a line convenient to commuters.

“This could be very much part of the future of Lynn,” he told Item editors and reporters on Friday.

An Iraq War veteran who served four tours with fellow Marines, Moulton said he decided to run for Congress “to serve my country again.” He credited political mentor and former Lynn Mayor Thomas P. Costin Jr. with reminding him, “Always have your heart in what you do — it’s all about service.”

Moulton faces Republican Richard Tisei and Independent Chris Stockwell in Tuesday’s election. He differs with Tisei over the former state legislator’s contention that he will be more effective in Congress than Moulton.

“Being effective is not just about what party you are in, it’s about being a leader,” he said.

Moulton said leading Marines taught him how to motivate people from many different backgrounds to set and achieve a common goal. He worked with Iraqi tribal leaders in 2007 and 2008 to find common ground on problems facing their people.

“These were people who were literally looking to kill us the week before,” Moulton said.

Veterans Administration reform will be a top goal if Moulton wins a congressional seat.

He said the VA “bureaucracy” must be revamped to reduce lengthy claim processing waits. If the Internal Revenue Service can process millions of tax forms, the VA can apply the same efficiency to veteran’s requests, Moulton said.

“Nobody in Congress has dealt with this,” he said.

Moulton said jobs and economic growth are top concerns for voters he has met on the campaign trail, but district residents are also worried about the threat posed by ISIS — the group a coalition of nations, including the United States, is fighting in Syria and Iraq.

Now is not the time to return U.S. troops to Iraq to fight ISIS, said Moulton.

“We should be getting Iraq’s military to do its job,” he said.

He said Congress’ role “is to ask questions” — especially about America’s future military involvement overseas.

“I will never give anyone the benefit of the doubt,” he said.

Immigration reform that includes doing a better job to secure the nation’s borders can help reduce the potential for domestic terrorism, Moulton said.

Providing immigrants living in the country illegally with a pathway to citizenship that includes paying taxes is an idea that can draw Republican support and reduce the federal deficit by $1 trillion — if Republican leadership allows it to be debated — Moulton said.

“Most people here want to be part of this country,” he said.

He said corporate tax reform aimed at creating “a level playing field” and increasing the minimum wage are ways to help workers and small businesses. Like Tisei, he favors repealing a medical device excise tax both candidates said hurts companies on the North Shore.

“It’s not the Democrat position, but it needs to be done,” he said.

Tisei and Moulton part ways over the need for Affordable Care Act reforms. Tisei wants Massachusetts to seek a waiver from the federal law; Moulton said a waiver is unrealistic and thinks elements of the law need fixing in part to expand the ranks of primary care doctors.

“There are some disincentives in the law. Let’s fix it, let’s make it work,” he said.

Moulton said voters mention setting term limits on how long elected officials can serve when he talks to them on the campaign trail.

“If I get stale,” he said, “I will leave.”