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Where are they now? Carron is still a man of the people

Life after politics has changed little for fomer state rep.

Mark Carron talks candidly about what he has planned for the future inside 12 Crane St. during a recent interview. Shawn Kelley. (click for larger version)
August 09, 2009
SOUTHBRIDGE In 2006, then newly elected State Rep. Geraldo Alicea, D-Charlton, moved into a Sate House office previously occupied by a Southbridge native who decided not to seek re-election as a Representative.

After three terms in office, Rep. Mark Carron, D-Southbridge, bowed out of the political scene to pursue endeavors in the private sector. Still deeply entrenched in Southbridge affairs, Carron may no longer be in the spotlight as a state decision maker, but is no less involved with the constituents of the 6th Worcester District than he was when his daily commute brought him to Beacon Hill.

Walking along a trail carved from the rail bed of the defunct Providence Worcester Railroad, Carron reflected on his time as an elected official, and looked toward future efforts contributing to Worcester County.

"It's funny, it's an intoxicating thing," Carron said of the political game, which for him, began in the Council Chamber of Southbridge Town Hall.

Carron explained that as a town councilor, he was encouraged by supporters to run the candidate's race to Boston, an idea he wasn't totally keen on in the beginning. But once elected to a state position, Carron said he went into every session with the needs of the 6th Worcester District in mind, and although he was not always welcomed with open arms during return trips to Southbridge, he was able to walk away with a sense of accomplishment.

A few bills Carron helped pen include one that mandated sex offender registration for convicted individuals moving into towns from other states or countries where it was previously not required.

"We got that loophole closed," he said, crediting efforts from the Southbridge Police Department and the Worcester County District Attorney's office with passage of that particular bill.

Another bill Carron had a hand in was the computer take-back bill, which sought tighter regulations for the disposal of electronic equipment containing harmful metals and other elements.

"It's about user responsibility of electronic waste," Carron said.

No matter what the topic, Carron said healthy debate is just as important as the final outcome of a bill.

The bill he had in mind regarded the restrictions on beaver trapping. Beavers are heavily protected because of their ability to naturally create wetland habitat. That protection however, can prove to be very costly for homeowners whose well water is in danger of contamination by encroaching beavers — as they must pay a properly licensed trapper to catch and remove the animals.

Carron, a center-leaning Democrat, supported relaxation of those trapping restrictions. Although the issue is still hotly debated three years after Carron's departure from the State House, he said brining attention to the concerns of residents was a step in the right direction.

"It's not about if you won or lost," he said, "Did we move in that direction?"

Despite some mild protest from one of his three daughters politically minded in her own right, having since emerged as a classroom leader over the idea of no longer being Bay State celebrities, Carron opted out of a fourth term in office.

"Politics is just a distraction from what's really going on," Carron joked. "But there was a real purpose for me being in that position."

After his time as a representative, Carron took a position with Payer Technologies, specializing in healthcare record keeping.

In the meantime, maintaining an eye for business, Carron acquired Inquiry Systems, a direct mail marketing firm, which he still operates.

Even during his time in office, Carron always had one eye on how to make Southbridge more appealing to businesses.

In his freshman term, Carron secured $1.3 million from a transportation bond bill for development of the rail-trail the extends from the crossing on Hook Street to virtually the doorstep of the 12 Crane building, an endeavor he said, made the now bustling building first attractive to investors.

Over the summer, Carron said teams of workers from the Nichols College Upward Bound program as well as those appointed to summer jobs through the Worcester County Action Council spent hours clearing brush from the trail.

In the 12 Crane building, Carron is co-tenant of the ever-evolving commercial space next to the Dark Horse Tavern. Although the bakery turned Trailside Diner does not currently have a product to offer the general public though still supplying muffins and Danish to a commercial outfit in Shrewsbury Carron said he is by no means out of ideas for uses of the space.

"This thing's a work in progress," he said.

It was upon reemerging as a face about town in Southbridge that Carron said he received one of the most profound offers of his professional life, when the Center of Hope, which provides support and employment opportunities for people with disabilities, asked him to work as a business developer.

"I've always had a deep affection for the people at the Center of Hope," Carron said. "It's one of the most respected requests that I've had. A lot of it's because of the work they do and how they wish to go about it."

At their Central Street facility, Center of Hope workers help with Inquiry Systems' productivity: 120,000-150,000 pieces of mail per day for commercial entities and political candidates, as well as signs for the same basic clientele.

"They're the best people in the world," Carron said of the Center of Hopers. "They're so sincere."

Surveying options for the future, Carron chuckled at the idea of returning to politics — though not discrediting it either.

With his own ideas about the aggression with which Southbridge should be positioning itself to be more attractive to businesses, Carron said that on both the municipal and state levels, "I think there's a real disconnect between the public and the people who serve them."

Whether he is to remain a member of the constituency or is destined to, again, try his hand at representing the populous is anybody's guess. What is certain, is that whatever Mark Carron does decide to do, will be done with 100 percent effort and conviction.

"You are nobody because of who you are," he said. "It's what you are."

News staff writer Christopher Tanguay may be reached at (508) 909-4132, or by e-mail at ctanguay@stonebridgepress.com.

See Tuesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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