SAUGUS — Matthew Crescenzo wants to be a state representative to continue his service to others.
“I’ve never taken a job for the paycheck,” said Crescenzo. “I’ve always cared about helping others.”
Crescenzo, 25, is a U.S. Army veteran who served overseas in Afghanistan and South Korea as a communications specialist security officer. After returning home, he secured a job at the Lynn Community Health Center working in information technology.
Each experience gave him a different insight, but reinforced the same reason he wanted to run for state representative of the 9th Essex District. The 9th Essex District encompasses precincts 1, 2, 4-9 in Saugus; precincts 1, 2, 3 and 7 in Wakefield; and Ward 1 precincts 1 and 2 in Lynn.
“I’ve always cared about helping people,” he said in an interview at the Hammersmith Family Restaurant Wednesday. “It’s about how I can have an impact on other people’s lives. The skill set I have gives me a unique perspective.”
If elected, Crescenzo said he would focus his efforts on healthcare for veterans and the treatment of mental health and addiction.
Not enough is being done to confront the opioid crisis head on, and the longer it takes to address the problem, the more loved ones will die each day, he said.
More people in office need to advocate for funding to combat the problem, he said. Programs need to be available to educate people and prevent the issue, he said.
“It’s about ending the stigma around addiction,” he said. “Addiction doesn’t discriminate. People from my fourth grade class are no longer here, people that I served with are no longer here, because of addiction.”
He said changes need to be made in the healthcare system for veterans. It can be difficult to learn what benefits exist for veterans, he said, and it’s often difficult for older veterans to use technology to navigate the system.
If elected, Crescenzo said it would be imperative to address the growing problem of Route 1 traffic.
Because of his background in technology, he said the best way he can think of helping the problem is with ramp metering. Stop lights would be installed at ramp entrances to let groups of cars onto the highway at a time, rather than a constant stop and go, he said.
He said he would also advocate for funding to clean up the road, including the trash and potholes.
“For a lot of people, that’s their only impression of Saugus,” said Crescenzo. “That’s all they see and it’s disgusting.”
When knocking on doors, Crescenzo said he was invited into many homes and told personal stories.
“I learned a lot about myself and about other people,” he said. “People want to be heard. They don’t just want to be listened to. I don’t think anyone should agree on things 100 percent but we need to change the culture. People are sick of the divisive politics.”