Thank you to DoubleACS for providing the debate live and afterwards for us to view.
Hi team: Wow! My first debate on live television tonight. I prepped hard for the debate, anticipating lots of tough questions on taxes, immigration, jobs, small business, gun control, the $15 proposed minimum wage, definitely the Attleboro schools, sanctuary cities, the environment, marijuana, and Mass Health.
Ellen, Bill, Zach and I met for three hours Sunday afternoon prepping for tonite. We watched Paul Heroux’s 2014 debate in front of the Chamber of Commerce leaders. Afterwards, I spent many hours writing out my answers to all the questions I thought would be asked.
Jan and Jax suggested that I lead with my HEART tonite. So I did. I spoke about being a social worker, not a career politician. I used George Bush Senior’s old phrase “WE NEED A KINDER, GENTLER GOVERNMENT”. described my past as a social worker and that constituent services as my highest priority.
1. No questions asked about small businesses. That really surprised me, coming from the Chamber of Commerce.
2. The big question tonite was about guns, following the horror in Florida. It probably involved mental illness. No sane person would do such a thank as kill 17 innocent students. I was asked what can we do in Massachusetts to prevent this tragedy from occurring?
3. Improved mental health, better DCF foster care, more mandated reporters, better treatment for addicts, tougher gun registration laws all went through my head while I tried to answer what I would advocate.
I found myself talking about locked schools in Boston, school police screening anyone who entered the schools, the need for legislation that insured regular lockdown drills in Massachusetts schools.
No one suggested repealing the 2nd amendment. Guns are the biggest issue I have run into on my campaign trail. A number of Attleboro voters have asked me if I would support the right to bear arms. I assured them that I was supportive of the second amendment, strong registrations, banning assault weapons for citizens, but allowing guns to be used in hunting and target practice.
I don’t want to take away the right to own a gun, but I do want to elevate the quality of our mental illness treatment. I want to elevate the precautions that schools must live with during the school day. I want to prevent anyone outside of the student body from entering without being checked by either a security officer or policeman. I want gun registration to include the owner’s social security number, I want background checks similar to CORI’s for new residents at the YMCA I work at.
We have a lot of violence in our American society. There are no simple answer.s… but mental illness is a clue for some of these problems.
4. The rest of the debate was mild in comparison to the discussion about guns. I told the crowd that I support the $15 minimum wage. No one challenged me. I told the crowd that the struggling parents on minimum wage needed this kind of boost.
5. I announced that I support the Millionaire Tax, also a ballot question. No one challenged me. This will provide new money for our public schools.
6. I told the crowd I wanted to be on the state commission overseeing the elderly, mentally ill, DCF children, DDS intellectually disabled people. I tried to say it in a caring way…. and I emphasized that DCF only has 5 nurses in the agency, covering 6 or 7 offices apiece. We can’t allow that to happen.
WE NEED A KINDER, GENTLER GOVERNMENT ….. words we need to take seriously.
7. I applauded Massachusetts for providing one of the best, if not the best, Medicaid systems in the United States. Mass Health/Mass Connector is about 40% of our state budget. 1.8 million children are now covered by Mass Health and other forms of health insurance… only 12,000 children in Mass. live without health insurance. But if we know who those 12,000 children are… we must find a way to get them covered too.
I fully expect Mass Health to be attacked by the federal government this year. Massachusetts might be running a better health care system than our federal government runs! Wow!
Our evening was saddened by the terrible slaughter in Florida. America must protect our innocent children. And we need to offer an improved mental health system here in Massachusetts. We need to widen the net of mandated reporters. We need to have very tight Massachusetts and USA gun registration rules. We need background checks, ban the assault rifle bans, and mandate social security numbers of gun owners. President Trump canceled the rule to provide social security numbers that might have prevented gun violence.
8. We were complimented tonight by the moderator of the debate for our civility with one another. It was a positive debate, sharing of issues, but our national leaders have not succeeded in preventing gun violence.
To sum my position up: I am for common sense gun laws. I am for expanded mental health programs. I am for more protection for schools and children, I want to ban the ownership of assault rifles.. We can have crossing guards… shouldn’t we have security guards inside of schools who can prevent strangers from entering? We hate to think that our schools need police to protect them… but this could prevent future tragedies.
We must do something about gun violence in America.
-Ty for State Representative of Attleboro