By Chris Maza
WILBRAHAM – For the McCarthys, being active in the town’s political landscape is a family affair.
School Committee member D. John McCarthy and his wife Mary McCarthy both recently formally announced their candidacies for the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School Committee and the Board of Selectmen, respectively.
Both were selected as the Republican Town Committee’s nominees at its April 3 caucus.
Mary will face off in the May 17 Annual Town Election against current Finance Committee Chair Susan Bunnell, Broadband Committee Chair Will Caruana and resident Stephen Bacon for the position to be vacated by Board of Selectmen Chair James Thompson who announced that he would not run for re-election.
John joins School Committee Chair Peter Salerno, also nominated by the Republican caucus, in bids for re-election against Patricia Gordon.
“I have been a town resident for almost 18 years. During this period I have traveled the country always anxious to come back to Wilbraham because of its excellent schools, great town amenities, unspoiled natural surroundings and friendly neighbors,” she said. “Wilbraham is truly a very special place to live and work and, I want to be able to help it continue to responsibly grow in the future.”
In addition to serving as a water commissioner, Mary was previously an elected trustee for the Wilbraham Public Library.
“During my term as trustee I was part of a team that developed the currently effective strategic plan for the library,” she said. “In both of these positions I have worked with town employees and committee colleagues to make decisions to effectively utilize budgeted funds, grants and donations to complete necessary town projects. I know how local government operates and what restrictions, mandates and programs need to be followed.”
Mary has a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) and currently oversees marketing and business development initiatives for Andrew Associates, an Enfield, Conn., based marketing firm. Previously, she was a marketing consultant while teaching at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. In addition, she is a member of the boards of the Asnuntuck Community College Foundation and The Ronald McDonald House.
She touted her successes in the private sector, which she said included aiding in the growth of Fortune 100 companies as well as smaller businesses owned by venture capitalists.
She is also a member of two chambers of commerce in the Pioneer Valley as well as the Greater Metro Hartford Alliance.
“These connections could serve well in bringing targeted businesses to Wilbraham,” she said.
John, a retired member of the Marine Corps and Naval Reserves, has a master’s degree in education and an MBA.
“Many members of school committees have a background in either education or business, but I am uniquely qualified because I have an educational and professional background in both,” he said.
He currently owns a pet photography business and serves as director of the Valley Photo Center in Springfield. He has hosted classes and workshops stateside, as well as in Canada and throughout Europe.
John said he felt he brought important technical expertise to the School Committee, which he used previously as the head of the technology subcommittee for the new Minnechaug Regional High School and member of the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District’s technology subcommittee.
He also stated his belief that the schools have been successful while being fiscally responsible and must continue to do so.
“As a parent of a Minnechaug Regional High School senior I know the needs of our students and as a taxpayer I know we need to hold down taxes and balance both. Throwing money at education doesn’t necessarily mean better results,” he said. “Our district spends less than the Massachusetts average per pupil, but we have better than average results. This creates a yearly struggle to balance the budget. We long ago cut out all of the fat, so we have to continuously find new ways to make ends meet and still offer a quality education.”
McCarthy also serves as chair of the policy subcommittee, while also sitting on the development and negotiations subcommittees.
“This year we are in the middle of negotiating a new three-year contract. Our teachers are our biggest assets, but they are also our biggest expense so we have to work together to control that,” he said.
“Increasing income is the other way of balancing budgets, but all too often government agencies raise taxes to do it. I advocated setting up a development office similar to the ones in private prep schools and colleges, private and public. We now have a development sub committee that is exploring ways to raise money to pay for projects we can’t afford in the regular budget,” he continued.
He added that he put forth a motion passed by the School Committee to file an application with the Department of Homeland Security, which, if accepted, would allow HWRSD to host foreign high school students with a benefit of approximately $15,000 per student.
He also recently headed a petition drive to remove Common Core State Standards from the Massachusetts education frameworks and has been advocating for the state to give the district relief for the $1.5 million he said was spent on unfunded mandates for the district.