ANDOVER — Former state Rep. Barbara L’Italien, D-Andover, said she worked across the aisle with Republicans to get issues resolved during her eight years on Beacon Hill before losing her re-election bid two years ago.
L’Italien, who is seeking to regain the 18th Essex House district seat currently held by state Rep. Jim Lyons, R-Andover, said, “I’ve been an independent voice and I believe that is in sharp contrast with my opponent, who has made his priorities clear. He has decided to sponsor a bill to get rid of school-based nurses, to get rid of family planning, teen pregnancy prevention, to limit counseling access for gay children and to drop insurance for counseling for rape victims.”
But Lyons fired back at L’Italien’s “working together” campaign slogan at a forum last night sponsored by the Andover/North Andover League of Women Voters.
“My opponent as she had pointed out wants to say that she works together,” he said. “And she is right. The Democrats have worked together to raise our taxes, they have worked together to cut local aid to our cities and towns and they have worked together to restrict the budget process and to close it up.”
L’Italien said she hasn’t been afraid to stand up against her party when she thinks they are wrong, saying Lyons “has a very narrow ideological based agenda.”
Lyons said he will continue to fight to end the “tax and spend” mentality of Beacon Hill and railed at L’Italien for voting to raise the sales tax from 5 percent to 6.25 percent while in office.
Along with Lyons and L’Italien, the candidates for the 17th Essex House district and 2nd Essex and Middlesex Senate seat also squared off at the forum.
State Rep. Paul Adams, who is running for state Senate, sparred with state Sen. Barry Finegold for voting to cut millions in local aid while responding to a question about what the two candidates will do to support senior citizens.
“I made difficult votes during difficult times,” Finegold said. “When it comes to local aid, these four communities had probably had the largest increase in local aid this past budget, but you voted against it … So how can you say you are for local aid when you voted against this budget?”
Adams said “the budget was loaded with budget items I disagree with,” noting the budget process needs reform. He said the increase would not have been approved without the Republican caucus.
“Without balance, without somebody making decisions that I think are in the best interest of the communities and not what the Beacon Hill ‘go along to get along’ culture wants, we are not going to see the best results that are in the best interest of the communities,” Adams said.
Kevin Cuff of Andover, running for state representative in the 17th Essex District as an independent, said he was unhappy with the “political culture” of the newly redrawn district, particularly Lawrence.
“I want the ability to go to a place and say there are certain things that are appropriate in the way business is done, and there are certain ways things are not done,” Cuff said. “We got to get ourselves back behind the eight-ball in that sort of political culture and the crisis going on in the city of Lawrence.”
Democratic opponent, Lawrence City Council President Frank Moran, pointed to his political and business experience in running for the seat.
“I have the experience, I have the local level experience, I am going to put it to work for the 17th Essex district,” Moran said. “I have the business owner experience … I am going to work hard to bring more local aid to all the communities, they all deserve it. We deserve a better quality of life.”