Representative Carlo Basile and Celeste Myers squared off last Tuesday at East Boston High School during their final public debate before the election on Tuesday, November 4. The debate was hosted by the High School’s debate team, who did a fantastic job with the questions, tempo and spirit of the forum.
The first question asked each candidate what quality do they most admire in the other. Myers, a former political supporter of Basile, said she admired his commitment to his family and said he is a tremendous father.
Basile said that he admired Myers her love and passion for what she believes in and that he respects that.
Myers was asked why she decided to run against Basile after being an early supporter of his when he first ran for office in 2007. She said it was a difficult decision and they had been friends for several years. She said he represented an independent voice but the two parted ways during the casino issue in Eastie. Myers, a co-founder of No Eastie Casino said she felt he did not represent the opposition to the casino.
In response Basile said he believes in democracy and everyone has the right to put their name on the ballot and to have different views and positions. He said he has nothing but respect for those who put their name on the ballot. While he said he respects her decision he did not agree with the reason why she ran.
On the issue of charter schools in Eastie and statewide Basile and Myers had vastly different opinions on the issue. Eastie has two of the top performing charter school in the state where most children are English as a Second Language speakers and qualify for free or reduced lunch programs.
Basile said there is a place for all types of schools in Eastie and he is supporter of the neighborhood’s two charter schools and charter schools statewide. Basile said he was proud in Eastie’s charter schools. He said he believes the more options you give parents the better off kids and education are. He said he is big supporter of charter school and giving parents the options.
Myers said while she did support charter schools she felt they needed tweaking. She said the charter schools should not be funded with the same money as public schools. She also felt the test scores at the charter schools give a “false reading” because they only keep the “cream of the crop”.
However, with a majority of the children being from low-income backgrounds at Eastie’s two charter schools, Basile disagreed and said in his experience with both Excel and the Brooke Charter Schools he found them to be very inclusive and open to everyone and another choice for parents through the open lottery system.
On allowing in state tuition for the sons and daughters of illegal immigrants Myers seemed to dance around the issue and did not give a definitive answer on whether or not she supports in state tuition for students of illegal immigrants but wanted to have a plan to help people work towards legal status.
Basile on the other hand came right out and said he supports in state tuition. He said he doesn’t know how anyone can look any child in the eyes that has gone from 1st grade to 12th grade in our public schools and then tell them you don’t belong here. He said students should not wear the scars of their parents and they deserve the same tuition rates for college as other Massachusetts students.
In addition to the State Representative contest voters will also decide on choosing all major statewide office holders as well as four questions including one on allowing casinos in Massachusetts.