EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 13, 2012

Candidates for legislature clash over issues at breakfast

By Paul Tennant ptennant@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — ANDOVER — Clashing candidates highlighted the menu at the Service Club of Andover breakfast yesterday morning.

“I’m not a go-along, get-along person,” state Rep. James Lyons, R-Andover, said. “When you want to change things, you ruffle feathers.”

“I pride myself on working with everyone,” said former state Rep. Barbara L’Italien, D-Andover, who served four terms in the House before being defeated by Lyons two years ago. Lyons and L’Italien are running in the 18th Essex District, which includes six out of nine precincts in Andover, three in North Andover, two in Tewksbury and one in Boxford.

“You have a very clear choice,” said state Rep. Paul Adams, R-Andover, who is running for state senator. The incumbent, state Sen. Barry Finegold, is “someone who’s been raising taxes” during his tenure in the Legislature, Adams said.

Adams promised to work to lower taxes and increase aid to cities and towns. Finegold, first elected as senator from a district that takes in Lawrence and Andover, said he has been working to promote job training.

“I think one of the most important things we can do is listen,” Finegold said.

Kevin Cuff of Andover, running for state representative in the 17th Essex District as an independent, said he would help Lawrence overcome its economic difficulties by applying the “teach a man to fish” philosophy.

“I resent that,” countered his Democratic opponent, Lawrence City Council President Frank Moran. “We know how to fish.”

Moran said 95 percent of the small business owners in Lawrence are Latinos. They are hard workers and are not seeking “a handout,” he said.

Lyons, who owns a business that sells ice cream and flowers, said, “We need to fundamentally change the direction of Beacon Hill.” He mentioned three times that the last three former speakers of the Massachusetts House – Salvatore DiMasi, Thomas Finneran and Charles Flaherty – have been indicted. Three state senators have gone to jail, he said.

Lyons took L’Italien to task for taking a $100,000-a-year job in the state treasurer’s office a few days after she was defeated for re-election in 2010. He also said L’Italien “sat by” when the Legislature raised the sales tax from 5 percent to 6.25 percent.

L’Italien said the tax hike was necessary because the state faced a multi-billion-dollar deficit. As for the job in the treasurer’s office, she said she helped a “green staff” learn how to work with the Legislature.

L’Italien also said the small business/banking partnership she started in the treasurer’s office has lent $362 million to people starting businesses. Five Andover banks received $27 million of that lending capital, she said.

Taking a swipe at Lyons, she said some people find it “more fun to throw rocks and poke people in the eye.”

“I don’t poke anyone in the eye,” Lyons shot back. Countering L’Italien’s assertion that she believes in “working together,” Lyons said, “the Democrats work together to raise taxes.”

The candidates for register of deeds, Republican Jack Wilson, Democrat Paul Iannuccillo and independent Brian Corrigan, did not criticize each other. All three promised to improve the Northern Essex Registry of Deeds website and streamline the operation.

They also said they will do the job full time. Robert Kelley, the incumbent register whom Iannuccillo knocked off in the Sept. 6 primary, was criticized for not showing up at his office.