STATE REP RACE Q&A: Erika Johnson Discusses Taxes, Being Responsive To Constituents

WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington Apple is asking weekly questions to the seven candidates running in contested primaries for the Wilmington/Tewksbury State Representative seat (19th Middlesex).

Below, in her own words, are the responses to this week’s questions from candidate Erika Johnson (D-Wilmington).

#11) Do you feel Massachusetts residents are over-taxed? How will you balance the need to provide government services to the taxpayers & fund the government with most taxpayers’ desire for no tax increases? Can you point to anywhere in the state budget where you believe there is waste, fraud or abuse? What will you do about it?

The state budget (funded by taxpayers) is a reflection of our values, therefore what we choose to fund and how much money is appropriated, shows what we view as important. Massachusetts has some of the best schools and hospitals in the country, something we, as residents take for granted yet people come from all over the world come to utilize. We must invest to reap the benefits of being “the best”.

With that said, it is up to our elected officials to fight for higher appropriations to the things we value most. As your State Representative, I will fight for higher appropriations to our public education systems, towards healthcare and also, want to hear from taxpayers in the district about what is most important to them. I will fight to be sure our values are truly reflected in our budget, year after year.

As I am speaking with residents, a common thread seems to be a general concern about being priced out of Wilmington and Tewksbury and their children, who were raised here, not being able to afford living in their hometown. It is imperative that whoever is in the State Representative position for this district is fighting tooth and nail for more local aid so that other streams of revenue such as property taxes can stay stagnant.

It is shameful when we turn on the news and hear vast abuse of our hard-earned money such as the State Police taking advantage of overtime benefits and our Governor has no idea. We must have true transparency including public audits of any agency or organization that relies on taxpayer funds.

#12) Former State Representative Jim Miceli was known through the district for his extraordinary constituent services. Do you pledge to provide a similar level of constituent services if elected? How will you be responsive to requests for help from residents of Wilmington and Tewksbury?

When I interned for Representative Miceli in college, I had a firsthand look at how responsive and accessible he was and how hard he worked to help the families of Wilmington and Tewksbury. As an intern, I worked closely with him on day-to-day responsibilities, but the constituent services aspect of the position was the one that stuck with me. Seeing how the weight of the office of State Representative can be used to make a difference in the lives of others, I knew then that one day I wanted to run for this office to be able to help others in a similar capacity that Representative Miceli did.

As I am talking to Wilmington and Tewksbury residents, everyone has a story of how Representative Miceli helped them, a family member, a friend etc. and how they worry that whoever is next in line for this office won’t be as accessible or helpful. If elected, I will work tirelessly for all of my constituents, be accessible, approachable and advocate on your behalf.

Personally, I have always been motivated by making a difference, contributing to the greater good and helping others. Values that were instilled in me from a very young age and that continue to drive me to this day and make me the best choice in this race.

I chose to study Political Science in college because I saw politics as a way to use my voice and passion for helping others to advocate and make a real difference in our communities. I’ve had the opportunity to intern on Beacon Hill as well as Capitol Hill, seeing firsthand how our state and federal government operates. “All Politics is Local” to quote Tip O’Neill and the state government is much more efficient in getting things done while being accessible to the people, two components I take very seriously.

I want to hear from the residents of Wilmington and Tewksbury when in office but also on the campaign trail, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at any time. My email is erikaforthe19th@gmail.com, I’m on Facebook (www.facebook.com/erikaforthe19th), Twitter (@erikaforthe19th) and Instagram (@erikaforthe19th); all accounts I will continue to maintain if I am elected. I plan to hold office hours frequently in both towns where I, myself (not a staff member or intern), will be available to talk about anything on constituents’ minds whether it be an issue, a policy stance or even just to chat. I will also be public with my office and personal phone number. This position is unique in that it’s not 9-5 Monday through Friday, as a public servant, I am always on the clock. If you see me around town, come say hi or tell me what’s going on.

Transparency is also something I value, and I will borrow U.S. Representative Mike Capuano’s biweekly newsletter idea where he summarizes every bill that was up for a vote, how he voted and why, that will be emailed, available on my website and I will also work with local media organizations (Wilmington Apple, Town Crier, Your Tewksbury Today, etc.) to be sure it is accessible for all. You, the residents of Wilmington and Tewksbury, are my boss and I am accountable to represent you.

(NOTE: Do you have a question for the candidates? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com and it may be asked in a future Q&A or in a debate.)

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