Local Government and Politics, News

9th Essex Candidate profile: Rep. Donald Wong wants to focus on Constituents

Rep. Donald Wong with challengers democrat Matthew Crescenzo and independent Michael Coller

SAUGUS — State Rep. Donald Wong (R-Saugus) wants more time to help his constituents.

“Even before I got into politics I was always working with the community,” said Wong. “I have a passion for giving back and working with the community.”

Wong, who has held the 9th Essex District seat since 2011, was a Saugus Town Meeting member from 2005 to 2007, then chairman of the Saugus Board of Selectmen until 2011. In addition to his work at the State House, Wong owns and helps operate Kowloon Restaurant on Route 1. Founded by his grandparents in 1950, the restaurant was passed down to his parents in 1960 and later to himself and his siblings.

Wong said his mother worked at the restaurant on top of her job selling life insurance for John Hancock. She led in sales for a long time and was one of the only woman agents.

“I’m very proud of that,” said Wong, who added that he tries to take a page from her book in his everyday life.

Wong wants to be re-elected to focus on helping people young and old, and to help push bills that affect little things in everyday life.

In 2015, Wong supported and put into action a relief fund for veterans. The legislation added an option to donate to the relief fund when residents paid their property and excise taxes, he said.

In its first year in Wakefield, the money raised in the town replaced a broken oil burner used to heat the home of a veteran, he said.

“The people who donate the money, they know the money stays in their community,” he said.

Earlier this year, Wong proposed a bill that allows Gold Star families, who have had a family member killed in action in the U.S. military, to affix a gold star license plate to their commercial vehicle, as long as the vehicle is not advertising a business, said Wong.

“We had a resident in Saugus who had a gold star plate on their business car and they had it for 10 years,” said Wong. “This particular family had their son pass away in the war, he was a U.S. Marine.”

When the family tried to renew the license plate, the clerk at the registry said they could not because it was illegal to have it on the business car.

Wong said he would focus on transportation if re-elected. If he can help secure the Blue Line in Lynn, more people might use public transportation, he said.

Wong also believes changing the jughandle intersection of Route 1 in Peabody could stop cars from backing up during rush hour. He also wants to examine toll incentives for compact cars and carpool lanes.

He wants to crack down on texting and driving by passing a bill for hand-free phone use while driving. He thinks money should be put towards police training for cracking down on things like texting and driving, jaywalking, and bicyclists who don’t follow the rules of the road.

“Once they start getting tickets, it will hurt their insurance rates,” said Wong. “If they hurt from the pocket, they’re going to start doing the right thing.”

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.

Click here to read about his opponent, Matthew Crescenzo

Click here to read about his opponent, Michael Coller

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