As state Sen. Steven Tolman resigned last month to head up the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, four Democratic candidates will vie for his seat representing the Second Suffolk and Middlesex Senate District, which includes Watertown, Belmont and parts of Cambridge, Allston-Brighton, the Fenway and the Back Bay. The primary election will take place Dec. 13, while the general election is slated for Jan. 10.
Meet one candidate, Robert McCarthy:
Q. What two major issues are facing state legislators? What would you do as a state Senator to help resolve them?
A. The 2 major issues facing not only legislators but, our government and the business and labor communities are - jobs and jobs.
We need to get our economy going again with good paying jobs that people can afford to live on. Jobs with health benefits and protections for our workers. Not PART-TIME and LOW WAGE jobs that don’t pay enough to cover housing AND food not to mention health care etc.
At the end of the day, we – government, business, labor, and not for profits – are all in this together. For all of us to succeed, we need to create partnerships by and between government and business where each does what it is best at and supports the other, not with onerous regulation, but with necessary protections.
While we all know that jobs and economic stimulation is #1 and is the focus of everyone’s attention, what is flying under the radar, yet having a tremendous impact on people and their wallets are 3 things that need to be addressed forthwith:
1. The cost of health care – the need to bring prices under control,
2. Home ownership including foreclosures and mortgages, and
3. The need to diminish the powerful impact of special interests - and return our government and its decisions to the people – to look out for the people’s interests.
Q. Did you support the proposed casino bill?
A. Yes with the necessary safeguards and protections, which, I believe this law has. In this economy and at this time, casinos mean - jobs.
Q. Would you support a casino in or near your district?
A. Yes, but clearly it has to be properly located with minimal residential impact (or those impacts must be mitigated to the satisfaction of the local community) and of sufficient magnitude that is appropriate for a destination casino including infrastructure etc.
In fact, I strongly support the construction of a casino in East Boston – because of its proximity to downtown Boston, to the airport, and as an enhancement and addition to the other attractions Boston offers visitors. It is my belief that the addition of a destination casino in Boston will further enhance Boston’s attractiveness and prominence in the travel and tourism industry thus creating greater tax revenues for our city and state.
Q. What would you do to increase state revenue?
A. Get our economy going again. The best remedy for our revenue issue is getting people back to work.
In addition, I believe that we should consider a gas tax dedicated exclusively to pay for years of neglect to our tired and dilapidated infrastructure. For every 1 penny addition to the gas tax, we could raise $25 million dollars to ‘fix’ our roads and bridges and create untold numbers of good paying jobs.
The other way to increase revenue in general is to tax the wealthy and to eliminate corporate tax loopholes – oil companies/big banks.
Q. If necessary, what programs would you cut first and foremost?
A. Our country has been thru 4 years of a recession – the voters I am speaking with each and every day feel, in most cases, that we are still mired in one. During this time, every level of government has been cut and cut drastically. No branch of government including public safety has been exempt. Not only have we cut the fat, in most cases, we have cut into bone.
That said, a top to bottom autopsy of our state budget is definitely in order – and should be a routine occurrence. We must go thru the budget and if we are to cut at this time, it should be to cut waste and redundancy – not programs that would hurt people in need (for example, our government should not be paying someone $360,000 to run a public housing agency and we should review the public salaries of all agency heads etc.).
I would also suggest that we look at this differently; that we ask the question differently. The question should be, how can the government spend what it spends to get our state’s economy going again while continuing to do the things that government must do.
Q. Did you support legislation that raises the age required before full pensions kick in?
A. NO, the use of age as the sole determinant of retirement is discriminatory. I have served on pension and retirement boards for decades and I believe that a pension is earned based on years of service (not how old you are) with percentage payouts structured to adjust for your age at the time of your retirement. Your pension is a benefit you have earned and contributed to over your career - which you are entitled to. To suggest that everyone has to wait until they die or are close to that time is wrong.
Far too often, companies (i.e. Polaroid, Eastern Airlines) are closing up shop and low and behold, the pensions that those employees worked a lifetime for are wiped out. That is so wrong. That is an area that we need to focus our energies on – protecting the pensions of workers in the private sector who have been abused by banks, airlines, and car companies.
Q. How would you seek to make improvements to public schools, both elementary/secondary and higher education?
A. Our state per capita tax rate devoted to education is one of the lowest in the country. I would not be opposed to an increase in taxes dedicated to our public schools (we have seen virtually every override for school related purposes across the Commonwealth pass in the past year). I think everyone understands and appreciates the value of a good education for our children and the savings realized from that education not to mention the positive benefits to our society over the long term.
Q. What professional experience do you have that you feel would be helpful if elected?
A. I am not wealthy. I am not a career politician. I am not a lawyer. I do not have an Ivy League pedigree.
What I am is you - a recent retiree with an abundance of real life experience not the least of which is: a veteran, a firefighter, a CEO, a negotiator, an arbitrator, a legislative agent – with a record of results unmatched by all of my opponents combined. My record is one of results, of getting things done collaboratively. I have a reputation for initiating and implementing innovative ideas. Like Steve Tolman before me, my life has been spent fighting for working people to ensure that they are paid a fair and livable wage with health benefits and protections – something every one of us deserves!
To read more on Robert McCarthy, click here.
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