The Same – Yesterday and Today? Ward 3 School Committee Candidates Clash over Content of Advertising

There hasn’t been a big battle in a School Committee election for years, but in Ward 3 the current battle couldn’t be more connected to the distant past.

That’s precisely because one candidate has pulled advertisements – some parts of them word for word – from a Ward 3 campaign in 1981, and it has an opponent crying plagiarism.

Robert Santacroce, a first-time candidate, has mounted a campaign against long-time School Committeeman Frank Parker. Both are uniquely qualified, and the campaign meandered accordingly early on. But recently, a series of advertisements has raised the ire of Parker – who recalled that he had seen them before.

The series of ads is based on ‘Mr. Future’ and ‘Mr. Past,’ and was a well-known ad campaign used in the 1981 race between Walter Cardillo Jr. – known as Mr. Future – and Arthur Covelle – known as Mr. Past.

Parker said he was working on a mayoral campaign at the time, and was still in high school. However, he was a close follower of local politics and remembered the campaign vividly – especially a part of them referring to Covelle being a bus driver. When the same ads came out by Santacroce against him, he said he knew exactly where they came from.

“The part about the candidate being a bus driver and talking about flying a jet plane stuck out to me when I was younger – as well as the Mr. Past and Mr. Future,” Parker said. “When I saw he called me Mr. Past, I knew exactly where it came from. Plagiarism in the public schools is unacceptable so why would it be acceptable for a candidate to plagiarize when you’re supposed to be a model for students…It baffles me that someone born in 1986 was able to find material from 1981. Whose advising him?”

Santacroce said he didn’t plagiarize, but he did research the past races from Ward 3. He said he went to the library and looked in the archives and came across the 1981 ads, and they stuck out to him.

He said he decided to use them in his own campaign.

“I started doing some research on the Everett School Committee in Ward 3,” he said. “When I was going through all the campaigns, I came across the Arthur Covelle vs. Walter Cardillo matchup in 1981. I saw similarities between what Arthur Covelle was doing and what Frank Parker is doing…My ads aren’t 100 percent the same thing, but what Covelle was standing for is what Frank Parker is standing for. Like I say, it’s time for a change. The headlines were very eye-catching when I read them. I felt they would be a good fit for my campaign.”

But some of them are more than a little similar.

In a recent ad entitled ‘Everett needs a change on the School Committee,’ one part is word for word with an ad by Cardillo in 1981.

“Asking ‘Mr. Past’ to deal with a modern school department is like asking a bus driver to operate a jet plane,” reads Santacroce’s ad. “Robert A. Santacroce has the education to be your School Committee member.”

That wording is exactly identical to a paragraph in a 1981 ad from Cardillo, entitled ‘Should a School Committee candidate know anything about education? It couldn’t hurt.’ The only difference is Santacroce has substituted his name for Walter Cardillo Jr.

There are also other similarities, including the same title of ‘Some jobs require more than good intentions.’

Santacroce said he doesn’t consider using the ads plagiarism and wouldn’t have a conflict holding a student accountable for plagiarism in the future.

“I would say it wasn’t word for word,” he said. “It was a play on words a little bit. You change a verb and a subject around and it’s not exactly the same. If you change those things around, it can change the whole meaning completely.”

Using the advertisements has also raised some eyebrows because the 1981 ads were associated with former Supt. Fred Foresteire, leading some to believe that Foresteire might be backing Santacroce.

The candidate said it couldn’t be further from the truth.

“That is not true,” he said. “I was going to run at-large and was called by School Committeeman Bernie D’Onofrio. He asked me to run in Ward 3 against Parker so that he wouldn’t be able to run unopposed. I agreed.”

For Parker – who has also taken some personal shots from Santacroce’s ads regarding his son’s employment and his elderly mother’s former employment – it rings of a bad scene.

“It’s ironic a person who should have Albert Parlin’s character attributes attacks my 82-year-old mother, who spent a career in housekeeping scrubbing toilets at the school,” he said. “I don’t think that’s what Mr. Parlin had in mind when he wrote about character. He says he stands against bullying, but all he has done is attack my family and call me names. He asks us to believe in him. My question is, can we?”

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