|[thank you to the sponsors and general introduction]
I'm the guy ....
...whom you've seen talking and connecting with people in every town in the district, who is concerned that Beacon Hill is not seriously and openly debating solutions to our problems, and that the future growth and health of our communities are being short-changed by current policy-makers, while political debts are paid off.
The problems of our communities are not simply a result of bad economic times. The over-reliance on property taxes to fund essential services has been building for at least the same ten years during which local aid from Beacon Hill has been reduced by over 45% in real terms. Our town managers have been warning about these trends for a long time. Our municipal services - libraries, police departments, schools, public works - are feeling the pinch. The band-aids that are being tossed to towns by Beacon Hill - provisions for more regressive taxation for the most part - are not a systemic solution.
I'm the guy ...
...who graduated from a good public university receiving a bachelors degree that cost less in four years than the annual salary of my first job out of school as a language teacher.
...who worked for over twenty years for Marriott Hotels, beginning at the front desk and night clerk position in Minneapolis then was promoted to department head and regional executive positions in Hartford, Hong Kong, and New York City. I led a team of strategists who managed up to $1 billion in annual sales in the northeast, attaining and holding the highest regional market share premiums in the company. Our job was to analyze market and customer trends to devise pricing and selling strategies that maximize top line revenue opportunities.
...whose executive position gave him insight into what was really discussed at the cocktail parties where the political power brokers were invited and lavished. The parsed text of the corporate press releases or the market-tested speeches of the ruling parties never revealed what really went on behind that curtain of corruption and secrecy.
...who moved to the Berkshires in 1997, living first in Sandisfield and since 1999 in Lenox, where my husband and I have a home on the bus line, just a short walk or ride to town.
I'm the concerned citizen and candidate ...
... who calls for real and sustainable tax fairness by promoting a progressive state income tax that ranges from 0% to 8.5%, provides $1 billion in new public revenue and calls for radically different spending priorities to deliver greater value to all taxpayers at all levels of income. It's time to boldly reverse the regressive nature of our tax and benefits system: lower and middle income taxpayers shouldering a larger burden while having its services disproportionately cut.
...who has observed first-hand how a variety of countries under a variety of ideologies have arrived at a public provision for health insurance that covers everyone, costs less, and produces people who live longer in better health than we, who are free to be entrepreneurial and productive, and who are more upwardly mobile than we are. It's time we join the rest of the world in adopting a model that is proven to work.
... who believes that jobs policies should be driven by local small businesses whose only debts are the investments they make to their enterprise. I believe that education and health care access is the key to economic development - a more effective booster for the jobs of the future than the tax favors that the big business insiders of the present pay Republican and Democratic Party leaders for. It's time to recognize that we are less upwardly mobile than people in countries who make these investments directly into infrastructure - including our human infrastructure, which is the most important. It's time to hold our government accountable for that infrastructure, and to use our voting power to do so. Let our well-directed investments into health care and education - two leading causes of indebtedness that saps freedom and entrepreneurial spirit - launch a bubbling up of the enterprises and jobs of the future. Trick down investments - especially when they are politically driven repayments of insider contributions - do much less for real secure jobs creation. A strong public sector directed at our infrastructure, focussed on future needs rather than present favors, is a friend of private enterprise.
I look forward to explaining my positions on these and other issues this evening. It's regrettable that voters are not seeing two candidates tonight, but I understand that a debate may occur next Monday. I hope so. I'm glad the sponsors are working to sort out what my opponent three days ago called a misunderstanding of the dates. Voters deserve to see all candidates on the same stage being asked the same questions.
I am glad to be here and I ask for your vote on November 2. The democracy deficit we have in Massachusetts means that solutions such as the ones I propose are not openly debated in Beacon Hill. We can start the change that is needed here in the 4th Berkshire District. It's time to make room for more parties, for there to be representation inside Beacon Hill from power that does not affiliate with corporate or lobbyist financial influence. This story has just begun. It's not a work of fiction or fancy; it's just a real-life story of hard work, persistence, clarity, and example that is the start of a new kind of politics at the state house. It's time for this; we can win.