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February 27, 2014

Governor hopeful Baker visits Lawrence, touting local aid proposal


Baker, who at 6-foot-6 is impossible to miss in a crowd, was accompanied by his running mate, former state Rep. Karyn Polito, in his visit to Lawrence. She ran a strong but unsuccessful race for state treasurer in 2010 and said she’s confident she’ll be a winner this time.

“I got a million votes,” she said of her effort four years ago. Also joining Baker were Alex Vispoli, the chairman of the Andover Board of Selectmen who is running for state senator in the 2nd Essex and Middlesex District (Lawrence, Andover, Tewksbury and Dracut) and former Lawrence Mayor Michael Sullivan.

Vispoli, who lost to former Rep. Paul Adams in the GOP primary two years ago, said this time he’s going to work a lot harder — and win. Sullivan, now working in his family’s real estate business, said he’s solidly behind Baker.

“We’re going to work hard for him,” he said.

Baker visited NxStage Medical, a company that designs and manufactures home hemodialysis machines. Jeffrey Burbank, an entrepreneur with an industrial engineering degree, started the company in 1998.

NxStage employs 300 to 350 people at its Lawrence corporate headquarters, in what used to be the American Woolen Co. mill. Kristen Sheppard, vice president of investor relations and corporate counsel, said these employees include engineers, marketing people and administrators.

While NxStage’s products are designed in Lawrence, the machines are manufactured in Mexico, Italy and Germany, she said. NxStage’s machines allow dialysis patients, whose kidneys no longer function, to receive their treatments at home rather than going to a clinic three times a week, Sheppard pointed out.

Patients using NxStage machines typically undergo dialysis five or six times a week in their homes rather than going to a clinic, she said. This is healthier for the patient because toxins are removed from his or her body more often, she explained.

Burbank, 51, said be and Baker became friends when the candidate was CEO of Harvard Pilgrim.

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