Republican candidate for Governor Geoff Diehl touched down Thursday on Nantucket for a day of campaigning around the island as part of his statewide tour in his bid to succeed Gov. Charlie Baker.
Diehl, 53, met with voters at Crosswinds restaurant inside Nantucket Memorial Airport in the morning, spoke with town officials including municipal housing director Tucker Holland and Harbormaster Sheila Lucey, as well as island lobsterman Dan Pronk. He finished the day chatting with the members of the Nantucket Republican Town Committee at The Charlie Noble restaurant on South Water Street.
Nantucket Current caught up with Diehl on the back patio of The Charlie Noble and asked the candidate about a handful of local, state, and national political issues.
Nantucket’s so-called housing bank legislation - which would establish a .5 percent transfer fee on all real estate transactions above $2 million to fund affordable housing projects - was approved by island voters against this year by a wide margin and is gaining momentum in Boston after years of stagnation. Should it pass muster with the state legislature, it would head to the Governor’s desk for approval. If Diehl gets elected, would he sign such a bill?
“We have to have a little more discussion before I say whether I would approve it or not,” Diehl said. “Right now our state is bringing in more tax revenue than we ever have before. I feel like the state should try to make up the gap. We have almost $3 billion in excess tax revenue on Beacon Hill, we have a tremendous amount of federal dollars coming in and the state legislature has done very little to put that money back in the hands of small businesses and taxpayers, especially at a time when gas is so expensive. So I’d like the state to become a better partner in providing that revenue before you ask anyone else to part with any additional tax revenue. I understand theoretically it's great to have that recurring revenue. But we’ve already got an affordability issue in the state, and people who’ve invested in Massachusetts with their real estate, why should they be asked to part with any additional money from the sale of their home?”
Diehl, a former state representative from Whitman, Mass., said he’s running on a handful of issues that are important to him, including the state’s energy policy, public transportation, along with education - specifically certain curriculum items that he feels parents should have input on.
“Energy in general is going to be a big problem for us,” Diehl said. “You can put as much renewable sources out there, wind and solar, as you can, but you’ll never generate the amount of power we need to go full electric within the next decade. The transition to a better energy policy that keeps all the options on the table is what’s needed to keep industry here, to keep jobs here, to allow people to pay for home heating oil and get to and from work.”
Diehl repeatedly emphasized that parents should have a say in the curriculum of public schools in Massachusetts. Should he be elected in November, Diehl said he would appoint a Sect. of Education and other officials that would proritize allowing parents to have input in such decisions.
“I think what we’re seeing now is a lot of parents are concerned about some of the curriculum as far as implicit bias being taught to kids and some of the material they’re seeing at a young age on sesxual preference,” Diehl said. “Parents just want to have a say, and school boards seem to be unwilling to let parents have that say. I want to make sure parents do get that dialogue with their local school boards to talk about that curriculum.”
Diehl, a former Democrat who joined the Republican party in the late 2000s, endorsed former President Donald Trump in his successful bid for the White House in 2016 and has since been endorsed by Trump in his own bid for Governor. We asked Diehl why he chose to support Trump and the ramifications of his endorsement in a state that voted for Biden by more than a 2-1 margin.
“Listening to him, he was talking about things that went beyond party,” Diehl said. “Putting American manufacturing interests first, trying to make us energy independent. The fact he was willing to, as a Republican, pull troops out of foreign engagements that weren't serving our interests anymore, I thought that was really interesting.”
Diehl will face Republican businessman Chris Doughty in the statewide Republican primary on Sept. 6. If he wins, he will face the Democratic candidate in the gubernatorial election on Nov. 8.