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14th District Candidates Clash in GoLocal Debate

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

 

Democratic Rep. James O'Day

The candidates in the three-way State Representative race for Worcester's 14th District sparred on jobs, taxes and state programs during a GoLocal debate on Monday.

Democratic incumbent James O'Day is competing with Republican William McCarthy and Independent Winthrop Handy for the chance to represent the district comprised of the town of West Boylston and parts of the City of Worcester.

Three Visions for Job Creation

O'Day pointed to his record on Beacon Hill supporting jobs and economic development bills, most recently in July of this year, that allocate funds for assisting small businesses and developing workforce training programs.

But when it comes to attracting businesses and jobs, taxes are not the only factor, and the Representative said public safety, education and infrastructure play an equally important role.

"We have to make sure that we have the infrastructure in place and that we have a community that businesses want to come to," O'Day said, arguing that if the state continues to invest in education and communities, economic growth will follow.

"One thing doesn't happen without the other."

McCarthy advocated for a different approach, focused on working with executives and business owners to identify what the state can do to help them.

"What can we do to keep them here?" he said. "They are the lifeblood for the state of Massachusetts."

Republican William McCarthy

The Republican said he would not vote to raise taxes on businesses or residents in the Commonwealth and would work in streamlining the permitting process for businesses as a first step to encouraging their growth.

"I don't want to create any jobs myself, I want to attract the people who create jobs."

Handy, a small business owner of 36 years, said the Bay State is currently a hostile environment for small business, with companies relocating to New Hampshire or other states with a lower cost of doing business.

"In Worcester, it's starting to look like a ghost town."

The Independent said there are local resources available from the various colleges and universities in the area and local consortiums that could be leveraged to develop the workforce necessary for the future.

"We need to tap into what we have here and use it," Handy said. "Technology is always a factor. You've got to be thinking way ahead."

Handy also presented his idea to bring one or two casinos to the Worcester Regional Airport as a way to create jobs right off the bat.

State Programs and Initiatives

When asked about state programs, McCarthy said he was very concerned about the state's EBT program, which he argued was a source of fraud and abuse.

"We need to have somebody who is a good steward of the taxpayers' money," said McCarthy, alleging that O'Day did not take a hard enough line when it came to reforming the EBT system.

However, O'Day pointed out that many of the abuses his opponent cited were addressed two years ago when the legislature passed EBT reforms.

"I thought that the bill that came out of the House of Representatives was far too harsh," said O'Day referring to legislation introduced earlier this year.

The Democrat said the restrictions would have unduly punished people relying on the benefits while in between jobs and trying to make ends meet, using the example of a woman not being allowed to use the EBT card to buy shampoo before a job interview.

O'Day voted for the final EBT reform bill that acme out of committee this legislative session.

Handy opted to take aim at banks and financial institutions instead, criticizing them for lowering the bond ratings of municipalities while charging them more interest.

"There's no accountability," he said. "They make the EBT cards look very insignificant."

Making a Case for the 14th District

Independent Winthrop Handy

In his closing statements, McCarthy laid out his case that in the current tough economic times, it is important to have someone go in and work with business leaders to figure out a way to sustain their operations and expand.

Raising taxes during a recession, he argued, would be like "putting gasoline on a fire."

The Democratic incumbent expressed his thanks to constituents for the honor of representing the 14th Worcester District for the past five years and said he was proud of his record and the solutions and benefits he has already delivered to West Boylston and Worcester.

"I am not afraid to make a difficult decision, and I'm not afraid to face criticism," said O'Day, if the decision will make things better for the people of the community and improve the overall quality of life.

With more than 50 percent of Worcester County voters unenrolled in either of the two major political parties, Handy said he would represent the majority if elected.

The Independent argued that his more than three decades as a small business owner have given him the knowledge and experience necessary to create jobs.

"There's a lot of money to be spent," Handy said, "but we have to be smart about it and we have to be sure that generations to come are going to benefit from the decisions we make now."  

 

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