STATE REP RACE Q&A: Mike McCoy Discusses Education Issues, Negative Campaigning

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 his own words, are the responses to this week’s questions from candidate Mike McCoy (D-Wilmington).

#13a) The Massachusetts education funding formula hasn’t been updated in 25 years. This Chapter 70 formula fails to provide the funding needed for school districts to fund core expenses. The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center published a report last week (“Building An Education System That Works For Everyone: Funding Reforms To Help All Our Children Thrive“) detailing the problem. The Wilmington & Tewksbury School Committees have long advocated for the State House to update the Chapter 70 formula. Do you commit to fighting for an updated formula?

Yes.

#13b) What else will you do as State Representative to help our public schools?

Our children are our most precious resource and investing in their education today is truly an investment in our future. I am a Dad to grown children who are no longer in the public school system but I promise you, I am fully committed to providing your children and grandchildren a high quality education that will better enable our youth to compete, succeed and contribute to a strong vibrant America. If you don’t believe me, just check my voting record over the past 28 years as a member of the Wilmington Board of Selectmen and see for yourself that I’ve always voted to fully support the school budgets. There were some years when the town put in upwards of an additional $1 million above and beyond what was to be appropriated for that particular year. Not only do I support our public schools, I also fully support our vocational schools. Additionally, I have a 25 year old son who is autistic. Chris went through our special ed department and I will be eternally grateful for everything they taught him. I will always hold kids with special needs near and dear to my heart and I promise to not only help you get your kids into programs, I will fight my hardest to give these programs all the tools they need to succeed because I know they need it more today than ever before. Like almost everything else in life, money is the fuel that drives the educational system throughout the world. Massachusetts ranks high (8th) in terms of both nominal per-pupil spending and cost-adjusted spending. The state’s cost-adjusted per-pupil spending level of $13,454.00 exceeds the national average by $2,607.00 but we still need to do better.

The Chapter 70 program is the major program of state aid to public elementary and secondary schools. In addition to providing state aid to support school operations, it also establishes minimum spending requirements for each school district in the Commonwealth. The outdated formula fails to provide adequate funding for “Core expenses” to include teachers, materials, technology and building maintenance. The impact of this is less in wealthy communities where local taxes can fill the funding void. Unfortunately the true burden of the outdated formula is felt by middle class and poor municipalities in Massachusetts.

We need more input from the educators and less input from politicians. Let the teachers teach the kids in their classrooms. After having conversations with local teachers, I believe we need to reevaluate the MCAS testing system. The overall sentiment of the educators with whom I spoke is that they are teaching kids to take a test rather than actually teaching the subjects they were hired to teach. They feel this puts undue stress on both teachers and students and I feel this is definitely something we need to take a look at. Think about how things have changed over the past 25 years in the world of public education in Massachusetts to include demographics, special education, advances in technology and last, but certainly not least, providing a safe and secure environment for our children. We must review and update Chapter 70 with special emphasis on the allocation formula. If I am elected, this will be a priority. Our future depends on it!

“Education is more than a luxury; it is a responsibility that society owes to itself.” — Robin Cook

#14) Define “negative campaigning.” Do you pledge not to engage in any negative campaigning during this election? Why or why not? When responding to an attack, will you follow the “when they go low, we go high” Michelle Obama mantra or the “when someone attacks me, I always attack back… except 100x more” Donald Trump mantra?

“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” We learned about the “Golden Rule” as children. It is a core value in our country and a common sense guideline for decent people worldwide. However, once these same decent people enter the political arena, it seems as if they have put one foot into the “Twilight Zone!” In that “Bizarro World”, the “Golden Rule” sometimes morphs into “Do unto others before they do unto you!” This trend has been evident forever and sadly, it’s made its way into this race as well via social media–not necessarily from candidates, but rather their supporters. It’s bothersome to me that some of my fellow candidates not only see what their supporters write but condone it with their silence. Being a public official for 31 years, 28 of those years as a still elected selectman, I am a HUGE target! Reason I am a target number one–I have self-funded all of my elections and I’m doing the same for this state representative election. Therefore, I do not have any I.O.U.’s to financial backers unlike my opponents. Reason I am a target number two: I do not have, nor do I want, the backing of other politicians, board members, the big developers (you know who you are in Tewksbury and Wilmington), the realtors and the “who’s who” of Wilmington and Tewksbury politics. My sole interest lies with the residents. Period. These reasons are why I’m still here after 31 years and why I’m a huge target for negativity to my opponents and their cronies.

Will I engage in any negative campaigning during this election? Let me just say I won’t be the one to cast the first mudball, but I will NEVER back down if my integrity or reputation is attacked and I WILL defend myself. Once again, this is a reason I am still here after 31 years.

It would be nice if this election could be a departure from the disturbing trend of attacking each other or worse yet, allowing supporters to sling the mud while the candidate goes unscathed in the background. I say let’s bring civility and honest dialogue back into the election process. We are all capable to campaign on our platforms, opinions, accomplishments and experience without resorting to personal attacks and underhanded tactics. This field of candidates is capable of avoiding negative campaigning; whether or not they choose to do so remains to be seen. More importantly, the public deserves to have an ethical, above board contest for selecting their next State Representative.

Mr. Hayes asked for my definition of negative campaigning. After doing some online research, I found the Wikipedia definition and it is: “Negative campaigning or mudslinging is the process of deliberate spreading of negative information about someone or something to worsen the public image of the described. Deliberate spreading of such information can be motivated either by honest desire of the campaigner to warn others against real dangers or deficiencies of the described or by the campaigner’s dishonest ideas on methods of winning in political, business or other spheres of competition against an honest rival.” I can’t top that definition. Thank you Wikipedia.

I am proud to stand on my track record of 31 years of public service as the cornerstone of my campaign. I challenge my fellow candidates and their supporters to do the same.

(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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