By Douglas Moser
---- — METHUEN — Congressman Stephen Lynch yesterday afternoon made his first campaign stop in the area since announcing his candidacy to succeed former U.S. Sen. John Kerry.
Lynch, a South Boston Democrat, gathered signatures and shook hands with a group of about 50 people at Park Garden Apartments on Burnham Street yesterday at lunchtime.
Before the audience of mostly older residents, Lynch affirmed his support for Medicare and Social Security, saying that privatizing the programs, either fully or partly, would shift more of the costs from taxpayers onto seniors.
Speaking about his elderly parents, Lynch said, “I learned first hand how important health care is and how important Medicare is.”
A failed proposal by former President George W. Bush in 2005 to shift part of Social Security into private investment accounts would have jeopardized the program during the financial crisis, he said.
“If we had not stopped that, when the market went into the toilet in 2007 your Social Security would have been at risk,” he said.
Lynch highlighted his blue collar childhood, the son of Irish Catholic parents in South Boston, and his father’s job as an ironworker. Eventually, the younger Lynch, one of six children and the only boy, picked up the trade.
He said his experiences growing up in public housing and “in the unemployment line” showed him first hand the importance government can have to people and the struggles of working class families.
“Public housing isn’t just a program, it was my life,” he said.
Former Mayor William Manzi introduced Lynch with an enthusiastic endorsement. Current Mayor Stephen Zanni welcomed Lynch as well, but has not decided whether to endorse him or Congressman Ed Markey, D-Malden, for the Democratic nomination.
Michael Gagliardi, president of the Laborers local 175, said his union endorsed him as well. “We believe he understands the values of working families,” he said.
Lynch needs 10,000 signatures by Feb. 27 to qualify for the party primary ballot. The primary will be Tuesday, April 30, and the special election will be June 25.
Markey and Lynch are vying for the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat vacated last month when Kerry was confirmed as Secretary of State.
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