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Special GoLocal Debate: State Rep. Candidates Face Off

Monday, October 15, 2012


Democratic incumbent Jim O'Day will square off against Republican challenger Bill McCarthy and Independent Winthrop Handy in the 14th Worcester District State Representative debate streaming live on GoLocalTV today at 5:30p.m.

This year marks the first time O'Day has been challenged for the seat after winning a 2007 special election in the district composed of the town of West Boylston and part of the city of Worcester. All three candidates are Worcester natives with years of involvement in the district's communities under their belts.

Much like the presidential and Senate races this year, jobs and the economy have been the top issues in the fight for Worcester's 14th District.

Handy, McCarthy and O'Day sparred over the topics during a debate in West Boylston last week, and the discussion and disagreement are likely to rage on again this evening.

From Social Worker to State Rep.

O'Day spent 24 years as a social worker with the state's Department of Children and families prior to heading to the State House, and he said his role as a State Representative has been an extension of that work.

"One of the greatest honors of my job is ensuring that individuals who can't speak for themselves are represented and afforded the dignity they deserve," O'Day said in a campaign announcement.

His resume also includes time as Regional Vice President of the local 509 union chapter for the former Department of Social Services, and O'Day still sits on the Central Massachusetts Labor Council.

While serving on Beacon Hill, O'Day has advocated for one-stop career centers to help grow the state's workforce, efforts by the Department of Conservation and Recreation to combat the Asian long-horned beetle infestation that took a toll on many of the 14th District's trees in recent years. During this year's legislative session, he played a key role in securing more than $11 million for municipalities and students battling homelessness as they try to pursue their education.

Currently, O'Day serves as Interim Chairman of the House Committee on Bills in Third Reading, and he is a member of the Joint Committees on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, and Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. The Representative is also a member of the Parks and Facilities Committee in West Boylston and the Early Learning Leadership Advisory Board.

In addition, O'Day serves on the West Boylston Little League’s Board of Directors, the Board of Governors for the Central Branch YMCA and the Board of Directors for the United Way of Central Massachusetts.

The Republican Challenger

McCarthy is a familiar face among Worcester Republicans, having run for Worcester County Sheriff in 2004 and twice for a City Council seat.

The former state trooper previously served as the Executive Assistant for the Louisiana Department of Revenue's Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, and he is currently a Criminal Justice professor at Quinsigamond Community College and teaches coures at Becker College and Assumption College as well.

Since returning to the Worcester area 10 years ago, McCarthy has spent time volunteering with the Boy Scouts of America, the Burncoat Babe Ruth Baseball League, and the Joe Schwartz Little League for Girls Softball.

The Republican's core campaign issues are lowering taxes, reforming the EBT and welfare systems, and developing job opportunities in the region.

Earlier this year, McCarthy railed against O'Day for a bill the Democrat proposed in 2011, the Act to Invest in Our Communities, which would have increased the state income tax rate from 5.3 to 5.95 percent.

O'Day defended the measure, arguing that the Commonwealth's tax code warrants revisiting.

An Independent Business Owner

Handy is an artist, photographer and, for the past 36 years, a small business owner. He has also spent 15 years as an elected member of the West Boylston Light Board where he continues to serve today.

The Independent has been an active volunteer for 30 years with National Education for Assistance Dog Services (NEADS), a non-profit that provides canine assistance to deaf and disabled Americans, where he sits on the organization's Board of Directors.

Like his Republican opponent, Handy believes taxes in the Commonwealth are too high and are particularly burdensome for small business owners like himself.

His experience in the the West Boylston Light Department has led him to advocate for alternative energy sources, which he argues will reduce costs for municipalities and ratepayers alike.

"If we want to stop the exodus of Massachusetts residents and business owners to other state with less expensive energy, we need to lower the cost of our electric power." 


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