Studies suggest that most children will learn half of everything they will ever learn before they reach the age of 6. Joe was a strong supporter of the expansion of pre-kindergarten in Winthrop and has heard first hand from many of his friends and neighbors as to the benefits of having this valuable resource and the positive impact it has had on children. Joe supports universal pre-kindergarten programs throughout the state.
Chapter 70 Funding
Chapter 70 is the law that pertains to state funding of schools in the Commonwealth. This law was written in 1993 and needs an overhaul. Joe would propose reforms that increase the portion of state aid that goes to the schools in need.
Special Needs Students and English Language Learners
It is absolutely correct that we provide all students regardless of cost or ability with a quality education. However it does place a significant burden on municipalities to provide the services that Special Needs students and ELL students require. Joe wants to move those additional costs to the State budget so that local school boards and officials are not forced to make tragic choices between the needs of these students vs. the needs of rest of the student population.
Joe is opposed to the further expansion of the Charter School system and believes that further reliance on Charter Schools are the wrong direction for the Commonwealth. We should instead place our resources and trust in our public schools and do everything possible to create great education opportunities for all children. Joe would also require existing Charter Schools to accept ESL and special needs students in order to make certain that they are accurate laboratories of education as provided for in their creation.
Restoring Economic Opportunity
Joe supports investing in the expansion of our public transportation infrastructure. He understands its importance for the future of the district and providing reliable, affordable opportunities for people living in the district to commute to work and around the region. Moreover, with a dependable public transportation system, we can encourage less reliance on automobile ownership, further reducing traffic and congestion in our neighborhoods.
Joe is the chair of the Winthrop Housing Authority and understands the need to balance development with the creation of affordable housing. The increase in rents throughout the greater Boston area highlights the need for the creation of affordable housing opportunities as well as ensuring that the supply of market rate housing keeps rents stable.
Joe will push for smart growth strategies that welcome the development of our neighborhoods while preserving the community. This is done by ensuring that there is adequate funding for programs that encourage affordable housing, preservation of landmarks and tax credit programs that help long time residents stay in their homes.
Joe believes that working families deserve to earn a fair wage and supports an increase in the minimum to $15.00.
Sick Leave and Parental Leave
Stability is key to being able to start a family and put down roots in a community. As someone who has benefited so much from his community, Joe believes that the Commonwealth should ensure that families have access to the stability and jobs that they need to build that community.
When Joe’s immigrant grandparents came to the United States, becoming members of a union ensured that they had the opportunity to create a better life for their families. Joe is a strong supporter of labor rights and especially the right to collectively bargain. He has received the endorsement of the Painter's Union and the Insulators Union.
Public Safety, the Opioid Crisis and Criminal Justice Reform
As a public defender in the Massachusetts Courts, Joe is on the front lines in the battle against drug dependency and the problems created as a result of addiction. Joe understands that addiction is a disease not a crime. Incarceration has failed to end this crisis.
As a society, we must start treating addiction as a disease if there is any hope of having a meaningful impact with those who struggle with addiction. Joe is a strong supporter of investing in programs that provide support and paths to recovery for those seeking help with addiction. Joe wants to see more programs like the Angel Initiative, which is located in Gloucester. The Angel Initiative has had a proven track record of reducing drug related crime and helping addicts into recovery.
Narcan is a drug that saves lives in the case of an overdose. All of our first responders should be trained and equipped with Narcan. Joe would support funding for this and legal reforms to have the state assume the liability of Narcan treatment from police and EMTs so that our first responders can feel confident in trying to save lives.
Education and Prevention
The best long term solution to the drug crisis is teaching our youth about the dangers of drugs and where they can seek help in the event that they begin to develop a dependency prescribed painkillers.
Summer and after-school programs for at risk youths are a great use of money for the community. Many if not most of these jobs provide a service to the community, the jobs provide the youth with job experience and skills, and they have a proven record of keeping youths off the streets.
As a public defender, Joe believes that the vast majority of clients he has defended suffer from some type of mental illness. Unfortunately, these individuals are never properly diagnosed and remain untreated due to a combination of stigma and lack of resources. Many of the undiagnosed turn to drugs or otherwise find themselves in the criminal courts and are a drain on law enforcement, a danger to themselves and the community by no fault of their own.
Adequate funding for mental health programs and facilities and appropriate criminal justice reforms are needed in order to address this challenge. Providing a chance for those to overcome or treat their illness means we spend more on treatment and less on incarceration.