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Voter Guide: James O’Day (14th District)

Monday, November 05, 2012

 

Candidate Profile: James O'Day (Democrat - West Boylston)

Birth Date: May 23, 1954

Education: BS Urban Studies and Management from Worcester State University

Bio: Elected in 2007, Rep. James O’Day currently serves as the interim Chairman of Bills in Third Reading and is a member of the Joint Committee on Children and Families and Persons with Disabilities and the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. O’Day is married to Marybeth Murphy O’Day and is the proud father of four sons. Born and raised in Worcester, the O’Day’s now live in West Boylston. Prior to his election to the legislature Rep. O’Day was a small business owner and a social worker with the Department of Children and Families for over twenty five years. Rep. O’Day is a board member of the Central Mass United Way, a member of the Board of Governors for the Central Branch YMCA, a member of the West Boylston Parks and Facilities Committee, Co-Chair of the Worcester Tree Initiative and a baseball coach for North End Babe Ruth.

On the Issues

How can you create jobs in Massachusetts?

I believe that a partnership between the private and public sector is important in fostering economic growth and creating jobs. Some of the legislation that I have passed as a State Legislator over the past five years includes the Green Jobs Act of 2008 and the Economic Development Act (The Jobs Bill) in 2012. Both of these pieces of legislation invest state money into sectors and businesses that are already making waves here in our City and in our State, sectors like Bio-Technology and Green Energy.

I also believe that part of the formula for job creation is to foster an environment that makes communities livable and attractive to businesses. In order to attract both big and small business, we at the local and state level must invest in proper and up-to-date infrastructure that makes doing business easier. We must invest in quality education to train residents for quality, high paying jobs in various sectors. This includes investing in trade and technical schools as well as traditional schools.

State Services:

I was a social worker for 25 years prior to being elected as a State Representative. In that position, I saw firsthand the necessity of state services and the importance of implementing quality and reliable services for our most vulnerable citizens.

Mental Health:

As a State Representative for the past five years I have been a staunch advocate for Mental Health services across the Commonwealth. It is important to provide our citizens with quality and comprehensive care for when they or a family member are in need. I helped secure and implement funding for the brand new, state of the art Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital, a $300 million dollar facility right here in Worcester that provides our residents with top-notch mental health services and care. I have proudly served on both the Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities and the Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse in my time as a legislator, passing and implementing legislation to aide those with mental illness and provide some relief to their family members.

Safety:

I have always fought hard at the state level to bring back as much local aid to Worcester and West Boylston for our public safety personnel. Public Safety personnel are vital to our community’s well being, and as a State Representative I have always worked to best of my ability to make sure that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has adequately funded our fire and police departments.

Infrastructure:

Investments in infrastructure are vital in attracting and retaining business and maintaining a healthy quality of life for our residents. I have worked closely with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to ensure that the City of Worcester and the Town of West Boylston are provided the funding they need to maintain our roads, bridges, and public buildings. I worked with the entirety of the Worcester Delegation and our colleagues in Washington to secure nearly $89 million dollars in federal and state funds for the reconstruction of the Kenneth Burns Memorial Bridge that spans Route 9 between Worcester and Shrewsbury. The bridge was nearly 100 years old and practically falling apart. The new bridge is already under construction.

Taxes:

I believe that the tax-code is outdated and working against middle class families. Middle and working class families are in some cases paying more taxes than higher earning millionaires. My opponents would have you believe that I am a proponent of raising your taxes, blanket and across the board, without any consideration of how hard you have worked for your money or your income level. Let me be the first to say that this is simply not true. My proposal actually builds in an exemption to protect working and middle class families from any tax increase. In some instances those in lower and middle income tax brackets may actually see a decrease in the amount of taxes they pay. Taxation is vital when it comes to creating communities with an excellent quality of life, quality education, and reliable infrastructure; essentially communities that we all want to live in.

My Republican opponent, William McCarthy, in his desperation has conveyed through many avenues some clear and known lies, in addition to the usual misleading information. He says that I support a new gas tax and I don’t pay federal income tax, neither of which is true. It has been documented in the Banner, GoLocal Worcester, and the Telegram and Gazette that I have stated during this race that I oppose a gas tax and my campaign manager told the Telegram & Gazette that I do pay federal taxes, which my accountant will attest to. People say plenty of nasty things in politics when you stand up for working families as I have, even when it isn't popular. I am getting used to negative campaigning and misleading statements from my opponent. But outright lies are a whole different ball game. Voters deserve to hear the truth. They should reject a candidate that goes out of their way to lie to them.

Healthcare:

Here in Massachusetts, I am proud to say we are leading the nation when it comes to healthcare coverage amongst our residents. However, I believe we as a legislature must continue to identify ways to contain costs for individuals, families, and small businesses. This past summer we took a step in the right direction by passing the Healthcare Cost Containment Act, which shifts the cost burden from individuals to groups, thus decreasing the individual burden. The bill will allow consumers to gain access to detailed comparative price and quality information. This bill also seeks to reduce miscommunication and fragmented care by establishing patient-centered medical homes, providing a patient with a single point of coordination for all their health care needs. This bill will reduce medical spending by setting a target for health care spending to grow less rapidly than the gross state product.

Furthermore, this bill will help our local hospitals, many of which are struggling to stay afloat. This bill requires high-cost providers to show quality or unique service to justify their higher prices and creates a one-time assessment on payers and providers with more than $1 billion in reserves to protect our community hospitals through a Distressed Hospital Fund. Community hospitals may apply for a competitive grant from this Fund, allowing them to thrive over the next 36 months before anticipated savings from the reform allow them to flourish on their own. This is first in the nation policy reform that will both reduce costs to the consumer and better protect them, and will continue to set the standard for healthcare policy at the national level. 

Education:

Education is one of the most important functions of our local, state and federal Governments. It is of the utmost importance that we invest in our education system to ensure a bright future for our future leaders and residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I have advocated for Chapter 70 (education) funding at the State House, and as a result, the City of Worcester has seen an increase in funding of over $22 million dollars over the past five years. West Boylston has seen an increase of over One-hundred thousand dollars over the past five years. I have also worked to ensure that homeless children are entitled to a continuance of education with budget successes in FY 2013 that fund the previously unfunded federal mandate under the McKinney-Vento Act.

Energy & the Environment:

In my tenure as a State Legislator, I have been a staunch advocate for new and innovative ideas that both protect our environment and invest in new and greener technologies. I helped secure funding for the Wachusett Regional Recycling Center located in West Boylston. I was critical in passing legislation that ensured clean drinking water for residents in West Boylston. As State Representative I am committed to ensuring the preservation of our natural resources and the investment in green and emerging technologies. I have also been a staunch supporter of the Bottle Bill which would help the environment by including many more bottles in cans in the redemption program.

Of particular importance to my district is my work on the Asian Long-horned Beetle infestation. I have been the co-chair of the Worcester Tree Initiative since its founding in 2008 and have worked at the local, state, and federal level to secure funding for relief in the wake of the devastation of the beetle. We are now replanting over 30,000 trees with the goal of restoring the urban canopy that has been devastated by the infestation. In August of this year I went to Washington with our Congressman, Jim McGovern, and successfully secured $1 million dollars secured as recently as this summer to continue our replanting efforts. I also filed and saw to fruition a bill that imposed strict fines on those that moved contaminated wood out of the quarantined zone, thus preventing the further spread of the beetle.

Illegal Immigration:

I believe that our immigration system is broken at the federal level. I believe that the federal government should strengthen our border enforcement and crack down on employers that are knowingly breaking the law and cutting costs by employing undocumented workers. I also support policies that require immigrants that are here illegally to register, pass a background check, pay taxes and apply for U.S. citizenship. At the end of the day, I support a system that is fair and realistic while keeping in mind that America and our success as a nation was built on immigrants.

Quick Hitters

What is the single most important issue you want to tackle in 2013?

If re-elected, I will continue to look for and support solutions for job creation and retention in Worcester, West Boylston and the Commonwealth as a whole. I will continue to advocate for investments in quality jobs for our residents so that more of us are able to support our families more easily.

Who is your favorite member of the opposite party?

Olympia Snowe for her stance on polarization and gridlock in the United States Senate. I thought her decision to not run for re-election based on the continuance of party politics and the resulting gridlock in the United States Senate sent a strong message to members on both sides of the aisle on the importance of working together. As State Representative, I have had to work across the aisle in order to pass important and vital legislation. It is critical to have an open mind in politics and be willing to hear ideas from both parties.

In one paragraph, why should voters support Jim O'Day?

I have a proven record of success in bringing back much needed funding and investments to our district. As a representative I have worked effectively with all levels of government and built collaborative relationships with members of both political parties to get the job done and be the best advocate for the city of Worcester and town of West Boylston. I ran for office after a 25 year career advocating for local families and working to improve our community. I am not afraid to make a difficult decision (and I am not afraid to face criticism) if making that decision makes life better for middle class and working families. I passed the jobs bill which provides assistances to small businesses, invests in infrastructure repair, and helps workers get back on their feet. I have been a champion for our public school system, a balanced solution that increases local aid and reduces fees, and connecting workers with good jobs. I am proud of my record and am excited to continue this service to our community. I hope that I have earned your support and I respectfully ask for your vote for State Representative on tomorrow, November 6th.  

 

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