Gas Tax, Tolls, Illegal Immigration Among Priorities for Jay McMahon in Run for Massachusetts Senate

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Jay McMahon is fed up with excessive taxation in Massachusetts, and he wants to do something about it.

The 66-year-old lawyer from Bourne, who earned the Republican nomination for Attorney General in 2018 but lost to the incumbent, Maura Healey, is running to replace fellow Republican Vinny deMacedo in the Massachusetts Senate.

DeMacedo, of Plymouth, resigned November 20 his seat representing the Plymouth and Barnstable District to take a position as the director of regional partnerships at Bridgewater State University.

The district leans Republican, at least by Massachusetts standards. DeMacedo earned 58.8 percent of the vote in the 2018 election. In 2016, he ran unopposed. And in 2014, he earned 58.9 percent of the vote, according to Ballotpedia.

In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in the district, earning 46,097 votes to his 41,103, a margin of 48 to 43 percent. That’s far closer than the statewide margin, which Clinton won 60 to 33 percent.

The opportunity intrigued McMahon when deMacedo announced he was leaving.

“I’ve always been interested in state government,” he told New Boston Post. “I was disappointed when I lost in 2018, but this opportunity came up. There’s issues in this state and in this district that I’m passionate about.  This is a perfect opportunity for me to exercise the things I know and to go to Beacon Hill and help my district.”

McMahon said he staunchly opposes the Transportation and Climate Initiative which could add up to 17 cents per gallon to the price of gasoline in Massachusetts. Additionally, he opposes open road tolling on Route 3 and Route I-495 — two roads people in his district depend on to commute to work.

“Think about what we’re doing,” he said. “We have a good economy. This is the best I’ve ever seen it. Unemployment is very low. People are traveling to work and I just can’t see why you would punish good, hard-working people with open road tolls and doubling the gas tax, it’s just not right to me.”

McMahon noted that Massachusetts voted against automatic gas tax hikes in 2014, an initiative that would have cost taxpayers a billion dollars over a decade-long span. 

The Plymouth and Barnstable District consists of the towns of Plymouth, Kingston, Pembroke, Bourne, Falmouth, and Sandwich, the latter three of which are one Cape Cod. McMahon noted that many of his constituents have lengthy commutes to Boston or places near the city, and said they would be hit hard by new tolls.

“It’s an abuse of drivers in the commonwealth,” he said. “Let’s think about that for a minute. People are going to work. It’s bad enough that they’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Then we’re going to hit them excessively as they’re trying to go to work?

He also opposes a tax on vehicles based on miles traveled for the same reason.

One existing tax McMahon would like to repeal is the state’s Airbnb tax — which he argues is regressive. The current 5.7 percent rate mirrors the state’s hotel tax.

“This is a summer resort area and it also requires summer employment,” he said. “We usually employ a lot of college students between semesters. They contribute to this economy. They rent out small apartments or a room short-term and what the government wants to do is kill the lowest earners in the society. Listen, what do the people renting these rooms do? They just pass it on to the tenant. Taxes have always been an economic killer.”

Opposing sanctuary state status for Massachusetts is another way McMahon wants to help these low-wage workers. He said that illegal immigration depresses wages of seasonal workers on Cape Cod

McMahon also said there are adverse impacts from illegal immigration throughout the entire state.

“It’s bad enough that we’re already a magnet for illegals coming in here,” he said. “We shouldn’t be harboring them when the first thing they’ve done is violate the law coming in. People say they’re hard workers and taxpayers. How are they paying taxes? They don’t have social security numbers. They’re bringing diseases and other things into the country and pretty soon, we have epidemics popping up over that were never here in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. You can’t do that. No licenses for illegal aliens. You want a license? Go to New York. You want free stuff? Go west. Let New York pay for it.”

On crime, McMahon is not happy with the way some in the state, especially Suffolk County District Attorney Rachel Rollins, operate. Rollins declines to prosecute crimes such as shoplifting, larceny under $250, malicious destruction of property, disturbing the peace and trespassing, and drug possession with intent to distribute, according to her campaign web site.

“It’s called quality-of-life crimes,” he said. “It kills all of the downtown areas because there’s pickpockets and shoplifters. We have a shoplifting problem in Massachusetts because people know they won’t be prosecuted. It’s crazy. There’s a lot of things I’m going to do about that. Remember, the state Legislature has the power of the purse, so when Rachel Rollins’s budget comes up, I’m going to have something to say about that if they’re not doing their jobs. 

“I think it’s absolutely crazy that someone says they want to run for the prosecutorial position in their district and then they don’t do the job,” he added. “Quality-of-life crimes will kill an economy very quickly.”

McMahon is one of two Republicans running. The other is Jared MacDonald, a former Bourne police officer who got shot in the line of duty in 2015.

Democrats running for the seat include Falmouth Selectman Susan Moran, Plymouth Selectman John Mahoney, Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office employee Thomas Moakley of Falmouth, and Pembroke town planning board chairman Becky Coletta.

The primaries for the Barnstable and Plymouth district special election are scheduled for Tuesday, March 3 – the same day as the state’s presidential primaries. The general election is scheduled for Tuesday, March 31.

Jay McMahon, via WGBH