Canning supports lower taxes, aims to improve schools, public safety

By RICHIE DAVIS

For the Gazette

Published: 11-02-2016 12:08 AM

Republican state Senate candidate Christine Canning has described herself as “a pit bull with lipstick” and the political byproduct of “a father who’s a left-wing Democrat and a mother who’s a right-wing Republican.”

The Lanesborough educational consultant, who is seeking the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin, Hampden District seat being vacated after 10 years by Pittsfield Democratic Sen. Benjamin Downing, points to her role as a whistleblower in both the Pittsfield and Holyoke schools, where she had been fired for reporting concerns about discrimination, drug use and violence among students and “illegal” provision of services for Spanish-speaking students.

“Would I do it again?” she asks herself of a four-year court suit after she was fired from her Pittsfield teaching job for reporting actions she says endangered students’ health and welfare. There is also a Holyoke case she says is still pending before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. “It was hell at the time, and I would do it again.”

The Pittsfield native, who owns two educational consulting businesses — Boston Manhattan Group Inc. and New England Global Network LLC — touts her role as instigator of the state’s 2008 Uniform Procurement Act, something she suggested to Downing after her businesses lost state contract awards to an out-of-state business.

A University of Massachusetts doctoral candidate in educational policy, Canning also has a degree and an educational administration certificate from UMass as well as degrees from West Virginia University and the University of Cambridge. She has worked around the world teaching.

The 47-year-old widowed mother of two says she supports single-payer health insurance and favors legalization of marijuana in part as a way of bolstering the region’s agricultural economy. And she says she favors taking steps to see that doctors are required to more carefully monitor prescriptions and that insurance companies reduce delays and allow longer stays for treatment to help the state deal with the opioid crisis.

“I’ve had enough,” she says. “I’m sick and tired of people working three jobs and not being able to choose between buying food and propane. I have a problem when we’re seeing vets not getting services, when I see corruption and nepotism, with favors being given out to some” — she cites the handling of an alleged internal infraction in a Berkshire County police department by one of its members. “We need more transparency and ethics. God gave me an incredible opportunity with my education, my expertise and my life experience. I don’t like greed and nonsense.

“I said, ‘Christine, get in there. If you want a difference, let it begin with you.’ So I am running for state Senate because I really think we need to lower our tax rate, improve our school districts and improve public safety.”

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Next, she says, we need to fix small businesses and attract new businesses.

Canning calls for lowering corporate taxes, for simplifying the tax system and reducing the estate tax.

She adds, “I understand business, I understand the procurement system and I see what we need to do and where we need to change. And I’m not afraid to have those rich and deep discussions with people. I’m so good with ethics, and with my integrity, if in two years I don’t make these improvements, I’d step aside and let somebody else come in.”

About ballot Question 2 to lift the state’s cap on charter schools, Canning has said, “I’m divided,” in part because there are failing public school systems in eastern Massachusetts where more charter schools are needed.

“I wish it was more clear,” she told the audience during a debate in Ashfield. “You can bankrupt a town” by requiring it to pay for a new charter school when there are limited resources. At the current time, I would vote no, because it’s costing municipalities, and it’s not fair to MTA teachers.”

Still, she said, charter schools are needed to help underperforming cities like Lawrence and Taunton.

Canning, who like her Democratic opponent, Adam Hinds, has never held elected office, calls the race “David vs. Goliath” in which Hinds has vastly outspent her, partially on political consultants. “I may not have the money, but my slingshot is my education, my experience and my expertise.”

Pointing to her perceived advantages over her Democratic opponent, Canning says, “I’ve been in a union, I’ve been a widow, I’ve held mortgages, I’ve gone through whistleblower suits, I have changed procurement laws, I’ve worked for foreign governments.

“My deal is, you’ve got to listen to the people.”

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