A handful of North Shore mayors publicly endorsed incumbent Congressman John Tierney Monday during a conference call Tierney organized to discuss his track record in the district and critique the GOP’s federal budget plan, which he says his Republican opponent Richard Tisei supports.
The issue has been batted back and forth between the two men for months on whether or not Tisei supports the plan, which seeks to dramatically reign in federal spending.
Tierney said Monday there’s a lot at stake in this election, arguing voters have a choice between a candidate with a strong record of supporting local communities and important social programs or a candidate who will help lay waste to everything from Medicare and public education to local police and fire departments.
, saying it makes "huge cuts" that would devastate the middle class as Medicare would become a voucher system, taxes would rise for the middle class and cuts would be deep to Social Security. The proposal would trim millions – billions in some cases – from several areas in an attempt to systemically reduce spending.
He said “education would be eviscerated at all levels,” thousands of Bay State residents would be affected, thousands of jobs would be lost (especially in education) and federal aid cities and towns rely on to provide services to their residents would be sharply cut, affecting even public safety and transportation.
In comparison, Tierney said, is a balanced Democratic budget that helps pay down the nation’s deficit in a responsible way while still supporting those key services and programs.
“I have always made the needs of local cities in the 6th District a priority. The decisions made in Congress have a big impact on the day-to-day lives of the people in our communities," Tierney said, adding his goal is to help build a stronger middle class.
Among the five mayors calling in Monday afternoon were Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and Beverly Mayor Bill Scanlon.
"I am proud to support John Tierney because he has worked hard for his constituents and the city of Peabody,” said Bettencourt. “John’s focus on investing in local communities has helped working families across the North Shore and especially Peabody.”
Bettencourt said he's established a good working relationship with Tierney during both his first eight months as mayor and as a city councilor before that. He said Tierney’s office has always been forthcoming with information and assistance.
“I am committed to making constituent service one of the hallmarks of my administration and I appreciate having someone in Washington who shares this priority,” he said.
Bettencourt said he shared the concerns of his fellow mayors on potential cuts to programs for seniors or families in need, education, jobs, public safety and public infrastructure.
Bettencourt did not mention any specific examples in Peabody, although Tierney is no stranger to Peabody when it comes to supporting the city’s efforts to reduce flooding in the downtown and has earmarked a federal grant or two for that project over the years.
Over in Salem, Driscoll said, the city has had success in recent years because Tierney has come through on important initiatives and federal aid for local projects.
“Congressman Tierney has done great things for Salem. He has helped keep Salem State University on the cutting edge, secured investments for our city’s transportation infrastructure, and made sure our police and firefighters have the tools they need to keep our community safe,” Driscoll said.
She said that partnership also extends to the city’s public schools and other federal aid to help relieve stressed city budgets in challenging economic times. She said that's necessary to keep up with local infrastructure projects, serving seniors and other residents in need.
“The Ryan budget is a step backwards for cities and towns,” Driscoll said.
“The Republican budget would hurt Salem families, because it will mean fewer jobs, fewer investments in our future, and less help for the middle class,” she said, adding that Tierney’s efforts instead are to make communities stronger.
Scanlon, who has spent 15 years as Beverly’s mayor, said he has always known Tierney to be accessible, responsive, work hard, a good listener and compassionate.
“I think the Republican budget being discussed now is really a threat to the middle class,” Scanlon said, adding he sees it as just dumping the country’s fiscal problems on the middle class. He said cutting back on education aid under the plan is “a mistake,” which devalues one of the nation’s key resources.
Scanlon said Tierney has helped bring $5 million to Beverly for a parking garage and $9 million in federal stimulus funds.
“He’s been a guy who’s always delivered the goods and I hope he sticks around,” Scanlon said.
Driscoll said she wouldn’t support Tisei because she doesn’t know him like she knows and trusts Tierney.
“He’s proven that he’s done a good job and has a good record,” she said.
The other two mayors on Monday's call were Donna Holladay of Newburyport and Thatcher Kezer of Amesbury -- both made similar remarks.
Much of the talk Monday was about Tierney’s record and 16 years as a congressman and merely Tisei's support of the Ryan plan, according to Tierney. None of the commentary addressed Tisei’s record over 26 consecutive years in the state legislature.
Responding to questions on his continued sharp criticism of a plan Tisei says he doesn’t necessarily support, Tierney argues his opponent is just “backtracking” now.
Tierney again noted Tisei received a personal briefing from Ryan on his budget plan in Washington D.C., is being financially backed by Ryan’s Super PAC and had said he was “comfortable” with the GOP’s approach to the budget. Tierney said Tisei’s campaign was “connected at the hip” to Ryan.
“It’s a good start on what, destroying Social Security?” Tierney said. “[He] backtracks an awful lot on what he would or would not support when it comes to the budget.”