A VOTER’S GUIDE To Democratic State Rep. Candidate Mark Kratman

WILMINGTON, MA — Mark Kratman (D-Tewksbury) is one of the five Democratic candidates competing in the September 4 primary election for the 19th Middlesex State Representative seat.

Below are Mark’s Q&A’s with Wilmington Apple, along with links to his supporters’ letters to the editor; his campaign endorsements; the full video of the WCTV debate he participated in; his interviews with WCTV (video), Your Tewksbury Today (audio) and the Town Crier (written); coverage of his campaign rally; a copy of his campaign finance report; and his website and social media.

On The Issues (Q&A’s with Wilmington Apple)

Why do you want to be our State Representative? 

In 2015 after years of volunteering on many local committees I decided to run for the Tewksbury Board of Selectman. I served as Clerk, Vice Chair and last year as Chairman for the Board of Selectman and was recently re-elected in April. Prior to his passing Representative Miceli wrote a wonderful endorsement letter for my re-election to the Board of Selectman as I believe we both shared a number of the same ideas of how to work to make our communities a better place for all who live here and keep working to make them even better.

I was approached by many residents who requested that I think about running for Jim’s seat. As we all know there is no one who can replace Jim but after discussing with my family, friends and supporters I decided that we need someone at the State House who will continue to care and listen to the residents in our communities. Most people that know me as a hard working person and I always make myself available to constituents. I’m not someone who just shows up on Election Day as I am constantly meeting with community groups, attending town or local meetings or volunteering at events such as the annual Police Bicycle Rodeo, National Night Out, The Intergenerational cookout at the senior center, the 911 Ceremony or Safe Halloween Event.

If elected I would focus on continuing my work promoting economic development in our communities which I believed is tied to much needed roadway improvements on Route 38. This is a major problem for both Tewksbury & Wilmington as everyone knows the problems we have during the morning and evening commute as well as on the weekends. We also need more elderly and family affordable housing. The people who helped build and shape our communities as well as our children are having a hard time staying in the Town that they love with the rising price of home values and taxes. I also work on and support legislation to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for the opioid crisis that all community are facing. Prescription drugs have led to addiction throughout our commonwealth and resources police, fire and treatment centers have struggled keeping up with this epidemic. Town resources have been drained and will continue to grow if we do not hold the people responsible for creating this addiction. Tewksbury and a number of other Massachusetts City and Towns have joined a national movement suing pharmaceutical companies and distributors for municipal costs resulting in the opioid abuse epidemic.

My wife, Denise, and I moved to the community almost 20 years ago and knew immediately that this is where we wanted raise our family. I am proud to say that we have three children who are currently attending or have graduated from the Tewksbury school system. Our son Mark attended school in Tewksbury, graduated from Shawsheen Technical High School and Rivier University with a degree in criminal justice, and works for a local police department. He recently married and his wife Bianca is a nurse in a local hospital. Our daughter Nora is a sophomore at Tewksbury High Memorial School and our youngest daughter Burke is in the 8th grade at the Wynn Middle School.

Do you consider yourself a liberal, conservative or moderate? Please describe your political ideology.

I am a member of the Tewksbury Democratic Committee and consider myself a moderate democrat. I believe there is no such thing as a bad idea and would be willing to work with both Democrats and Republicans to do what is best for the residents of Tewksbury and Wilmington.

What is your interpretation of the 2nd Amendment? When, if ever, should a citizen’s 2nd Amendment rights be curtailed? Do you consider yourself a pro 2ndAmendment candidate?

My interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is that it was written to protect the right of the people to keep and bear arms as part of the first 10 amendments and was adopted on December 15, 1791. I strongly believe in the 2nd amendment the same way I believe in the freedom of speech.  Residents have every right to bear arms for their own personnel protection and for use for hunting or recreational purposes. With that said I do believe in the local legislation that was passed to keep arms away from individuals that have been deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.

Do you support capital punishment? When, if ever, should a person convicted of a crime be put to death by its government? Would you support reinstating the death penalty in Massachusetts?

I believe in capital punishment for anyone who kills a police officer in the line of duty.

This is not something that I take lightly. I believe in rehabilitation but too often killers in our commonwealth have been set free by the courts only to commit or try to commit murder once again. There was a case where a Boston Police Officer and father of three children was killed in 1993 by a murderer during an attempted escape. Prior to that he was convicted of manslaughter for killing a mother who was a store clerk in 1986 during a robbery for less than 30 dollars. He served only 7 years for killing the clerk and was released and once free murdered the Boston Police Officer. He was released from a Massachusetts prison in 2009, only to be locked up again in 2010 for trying to run over Cranston Police Officers during a chase. He was once again released in May of this year. How can you tell the children of the mother and father that he killed that this is justice?

How big a problem is illegal immigration in Massachusetts? What, if anything, should the legislature be doing to curb illegal immigration? Do you support or oppose Massachusetts becoming a sanctuary state?

I believe that everyone deserves the chance to live the American dream. My family and almost everyone who lives in Massachusetts have relatives that came to America to find a better life. I believe it should not take 5 to 10 years to become an American citizen. Most immigrants that come to Massachusetts are wonderful hard working people but in some cases we have Illegal immigrants that are violent offenders who are not documented and even when caught and deported return with ease across our boarders. I do not believe that we should become a sanctuary state but rather make it easier for hard working families that believe in the dream of becoming a proud American and raise their families here looking for a better life.

Do you consider yourself a pro-choice candidate or a pro-life candidate? Under what circumstances, if any, should abortion be legal?

I have a very large family as I am one of six including 4 sisters.I also have a wife and 2 daughters, I attended catholic schools and am a proud member of the Knights of Columbus. I always believe in life first but with that said I am a man and I do not believe we should ever pass legislation that tells a woman what she should do with her own body and would support a woman’s right to choose.

What will you do as State Representative to help individuals and families in Tewksbury, Wilmington and beyond who are struggling as a result of the opioid epidemic? 

The opioid epidemic is not only affecting just our communities but all communities across Massachusetts and our nation. In 2010, there were 560 confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts and the numbers continues to rise at an alarming rate. In 2016 & 2017, the number of confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths was well over 2000. In just the first 3 months of 2018, there are 201 confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths and unless we take real action this epidemic will continue to take the lives of our children and loved ones.

The current rehab facilities are not working and we lack affordable and quality long-term recovery centers in our area. I have been on the Board of Directors to the East Boston Community Development Corporation for over 30 years. Not only do we help build and maintain senior housing so that people can afford to stay in the community that they grew up in but we also funded the opening of the Meridian House in East Boston which is a 30 bed, coed therapeutic community serving an adult population 18 and over. Meridian House is considered to be a High Intensity Residential Service. The program provides behavior modification treatment for individuals diagnosed with substance use disorder and co-occurring disorders.

There is a local non-profit organization called Into Action Recovery, Inc. It was founded in Tewksbury in 2015 by a group of concerned parents, family members, citizens, and recovering addicts, motivated to stop the vicious cycle of recovery and relapse. They want people to have a place to go when they are out of rehab but still recovering from the addiction. They envision purchasing a large home with many bedrooms and bathrooms, where they could offer those in recovery a highly structured program of support and participant responsibilities. The group’s approach is modeled on the widespread success of other similar programs, as well as interface and input from many sources. I attend each meeting that I can and totally support their efforts.

The stigma surrounding this disease must change. I know way too many good families who have their children to this horrendous disease and we must work together as a community to win this battle. Our police, fire and other emergency workers are stretching their budgets to the limits and putting their lives at risk as well not knowing what types of drugs they are coming in contact with.

The pharmaceuticals companies must be held liable for their actions. Massachusetts filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma LP, accusing the OxyContin maker of illegally promoting the use of opioids, and became the first state to sue the drugmaker’s executives and directors to hold them responsible as well. The lawsuit, brought by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, alleges that Purdue deceived doctors and patients by misrepresenting the risks of addiction and death associated with the prolonged use of its prescription opioids. In 2007, Purdue and three executives pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the misbranding of OxyContin and agreed to pay a total of $634.5 million in penalties. That year, Purdue also reached a $19.5 million settlement with 26 states, including Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. But Healey’s office alleges Purdue continued deceptively marketing opioids after 2007. Tewksbury has signed on to the list of City And Towns to join this lawsuit and I encourage Wilmington to do the same. The much needed funds that have been spent by our communities fighting this epidemic should be returned to our Towns and go to the programs that they we meant for.

What will you do as State Representative to help attract and maintain small and large businesses in Wilmington and Tewksbury? Do you consider yourself a business-friendly candidate? Why?

Currently not only am I a Selectman in the Town of Tewksbury, but I am also Chair of our Economic Development Committee in Tewksbury. I am constantly meeting with business owners in my town to get their input and help them prosper in our communities. I also serve on the Board of Directors for the Wilmington/Tewksbury Chamber of Commerce. Tewksbury and Wilmington have many of the same problems. Traffic flow is at a standstill on Route 38 and without infrastructure improvements it makes it very difficult for residents and visitors to get to the local businesses to buy their goods. We pay a lot of taxes in this State and it is about time that funding is returned to our community to in the way significant transportation improvements. There are many bottlenecks that could easily be taken care of by either widening the intersections or adding additions turning lanes. As a State Representative I would fight to bring the much needed funding back to our communities and continue to work with local leaders to promote smart growth in our towns. We cannot continue to build without a plan on how it is going to affect the daily lives of the residents who have lived here and made this their home. I am all in favor of business but there must be a plan on how we all can work and live in harmony.

Last year, there was a controversial bill in which members of the state legislature voted to give themselves large raises (up to to 45% in some cases), and included judicial raises in the bill so that the voters couldn’t potentially override the bill in a ballot question. The salary increases for elected officials came at a time where taxes were increasing and certain services were being cut. As state representative, how would you vote on such a matter? (Mind you, members of the New Hampshire state legislature earn only $200 per year.) Additionally, if elected, do you intend on working a second job or will you focus fully on your legislator position?

No Response.

The late Representative Miceli fought hard on environmental issues. Even though the Olin Superfund site, the Maple Meadow Landfill, and the New England Transrail project were not in his district, he went to bat for the Wilmington residents to help in the detrimental impacts from these sites. Do you have a clear knowledge of the threats from these sites and even though not in your district, will you fight for the residents of Wilmington like Jim Miceli did?

No Response.

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?

Yes. There has to be a balance of taxes and spending. Massachusetts unemployment rate is at 3.5% lower than the National rate of 4.1%. The building across Massachusetts continues to grow but yet we hear that the tax revenues did not come in as high as expected? If most people are working and construction continues to grow than we need someone at the State House to do a better job with tax projections. We all want services in our communities but there is a lot of waste that needs to be addressed. Welfare and Snap benefits were put in place to help people during difficult times but was not intended to be a lifetime benefit. I am all in favor of helping people in their time of need but there has to be a cutoff point. With unemployment at an all-time low there are plenty of jobs that are available but we hear of abuse and even statements of some abusers stating why should I work when I get things for free. There have even been times when someone has been arrested only to find that the person has numerous snap cards under different names. For the seventh year in a row, the State Auditor’s office uncovered a record amount of public assistance benefit fraud, identifying nearly $ 17 million that was improperly spent in the fiscal year 2017. You would think that after 7 years in a row that changes would be made or a change in the Administration who is overseeing the program. You cannot open a paper or watch the news without hearing of waste, fraud or abuse but I believe that most people are take pride in their work and are hardworking people trying to support their families. If I was lucky enough to receive your vote I would question and demand an explanation of why this type of abuse is allowed to continue.

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?

Jim was the best. There is no one who is going to replace him. Most people that know me will tell you that I have the same commitment and dedication to help people when needed. I am out almost every night attending meetings, volunteering in the community, attending fundraisers for those in need and continue to make myself available to everyone at all time. My email MarkKratman@gmail.com or my phone (978) 726-2912 rings all the time. I receive a call or email almost every day and I will always respond and help in any way that I can. That is what the job is all about. To be a responsive Representative who listens and cares about our community.

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? What else will you do as State Representative to help our public schools?

When the formula was first enacted in 1993, it was supposed to be evaluated each year by a Foundation Budget Review Commission. That commission did not have its first meeting until early October of 2014, 21 years later. It’s been a struggle for districts, particularly Tewksbury and Wilmington, to fund education at the level the residents want for their children when health insurance costs have risen, typically, far beyond the rate of inflation accounted for in the foundation budget. Increases in special education in-district costs are also rising and those rates of increase are not reflected in the foundation budget. The foundation budget formula is a generation old and does not take into account changes in educational cohorts, real-life increases in health insurance, as well as increases in English Language Learner instruction.

Tewksbury and Wilmington, with the strong financial leadership provided by Town Managers Richard Montuori and Jeff Hull, and School Superintendents and Business Managers, have worked extremely hard to keep rising costs for health insurance down and manage other required spending. Both towns strongly value education – with investments in school buildings, teachers, curricula, fields, arts, and more. However, rising costs in health care of other required spending, and the lack of a foundation budget formula that actually funds at the levels the state wants to see – combined with the underfunding of the Special Education Circuit Breaker, means that education costs crowd out other expenditures at the local level. Particularly concerning is that even when the economy is booming, state reimbursements in real dollars (accounting for inflation) are still too low. These shortfalls undermine the goals of education in Massachusetts and are a disservice to middle income districts as well as low income districts.

The School Committees in both towns work exceptionally hard with the Superintendents to present budgets to Town Meeting that balance the needs of students, families, and the resources the community can provide. Vigorously supporting their work on Beacon Hill to improve the Foundation Budget Formula makes fiscal sense for our communities. Striking the right balance at the state level to manage other contributing costs – like keeping health insurance affordable – can create a formula that lifts districts across the state, including our own at home.

A well-educated workforce is the best way to keep Massachusetts growing and ensure a secure future for our kids. Failing our students leads to increased unemployment, substance use, and poor outcomes that affect whole communities. Our children cannot afford further delays in tackling the foundation budget.

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?

Negative campaigning or mudslinging is when a candidate or a political committee supporting a candidate deliberately spreads negative or false information about another candidate. There is no place for such actions in this campaign where this should take place. Voter turnout in both town’s has been very low during the last few elections and I know the voters want to hear what are you going to do to make our communities better place rather than listen to attacks about your opponent . I have been working hard to meet and talk to as many people as I can about why I am running and how I want to make changes for the better. It is my hope that each and every candidate is running for the same reason. I believe they should be congratulated for having the guts for taking the time and put themselves out there. Each and every one running including their friends and family and supporters took time and energy and money and applied it toward the democratic process. I for one applaud their efforts and consider a number of the other candidates as friends.

What you will do at the State House to ensure that our local police and fire departments have what they need to adequately protect us? Do you support a fire substation in North Wilmington? Did you/do you support the construction of the new center fire station in Tewksbury that was approved last year?

No Response.

The Vietnam War Moving Wall recently visited Wilmington. It was a sobering reminder of what the men and women in our armed forces are willing to sacrifice to preserve our freedom. What will you do at the State House to support our local veterans and veterans statewide? What, if anything, have you done as a private citizen and/or locally elected official that shows a commitment to veterans? Do you personally have any family that serves/served?

No Response.

What are some of the major infrastructure needs in the district? Can you point to specific streets/areas within both towns that “need work?” What will you do as State Rep to ensure certain roadway projects, sidewalk projects, etc. finally get addressed?

No Response.

As State Rep, what will you do to increase affordable housing opportunities for seniors, veterans and young adults right out of school? Also, what are your thoughts on the Governor’s proposal to promote more dense housing developments by changing the 2/3 majority vote to a simple majority vote for rezonings at Town Meetings? (Background: https://www.massachusettslandusemonitor.com/zoning/governor-baker-proposes-zoning-changes-to-promote-more-housing/) Finally, do you feel the state’s 40B laws need to be updated? Why?

No Response.

(Editor’s Note: The above questions were submitted by readers. Each candidate was given the same amount of time each week to answer. These answers were previously published on Wilmington Apple over the past 3 months.)

Letters To The Editor

Endorsements

Watch The Debate

Candidate Conversation with WCTV

Audio Interview with ‘Your Tewksbury Today’

Wilmington Town Crier Candidate Profile

Campaign Rally Coverage

Campaign Finance Report

Candidate’s Website & Social Media

Closing Argument

No Response

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